Former federal prosecutor from Butler County hired to prepare last-ditch motion for Sandusky
HARRISBURG — Mention Jerry Sandusky, and you're likely to get an earful of vitriol.The same doesn't apply to the ex-coach's new attorney.
Those who know Al Lindsay Jr. say they have nothing but respect for him.
Lindsay, 68, of Sarver represents the former Penn State University assistant coach in a last-ditch bid for another day in state court.
In one of the most closely watched cases in Pennsylvania history, jurors convicted Sandusky in 2012 of molesting 10 boys over 15 years. He is serving 30 to 60 years in state prison.
Superior Court upheld his conviction. The state Supreme Court rejected Sandusky's request for an appeal.
Lindsay, who practices in Butler County, is preparing a post-conviction motion, a last resort available to state defendants. The measure allows defendants to argue they had ineffective counsel or that new evidence has come to light.
Lindsay said he wouldn't discuss how Sandusky came to hire him. What argument Lindsay will make in the motion is unclear. He said he is “uncomfortable” discussing details of the motion before he files it.
More than two years after Sandusky's conviction, the ex-coach's actions could still affect the prosecution of three former Penn State administrators accused of covering them up.
The case against ex-president Graham Spanier, vice president Gary Schultz and athletic director Tim Curley is awaiting trial.
Prosecutors who have faced Lindsay in court don't expect the attention from the case to rattle him.
“One thing about Al Lindsay is, he treats every case the same,” said Armstrong County District Attorney Scott Andreassi.
Before Lindsay went into private practice in 1980, he built a reputation as a prosecutor with a flair for corruption cases. First as an assistant district attorney in Butler County and then as an assistant U.S. attorney in the Western District of Pennsylvania, Lindsay had a hand in a number of high-profile cases against local officials.
Lindsay started as a federal prosecutor under former U.S. Attorney Dick Thornburgh, who became Pennsylvania governor in 1979.
By 1978, when Robert Cindrich became U.S. attorney in Pittsburgh, Lindsay was leading the district's anti-corruption team.
“Don't forget who you're prosecuting. You're not prosecuting some bank robber; you're taking on a public official, someone with resources,” Cindrich said of the work he did. “It requires a certain fearlessness.”
Lindsay excelled at persuading hesitant witnesses to come forward, colleagues said.
“Cases are not won in the courtroom. They're won in the living room,” Lindsay said.
“I still believe the best way to get someone to testify is to appeal to their idealism about our system, about our country.”
Mail fraud and racketeering cases involving public officials were his team's specialty, Lindsay said.
He personally secured convictions against local heavyweights such as John Torquato, who used his position as chairman of the Cambria County Democratic Party to demand kickbacks in exchange for state contracts.
Lindsay prosecuted Frank Clark, a former U.S. representative who pleaded guilty to charges of mail fraud and tax evasion.
Lindsay grew up on a farm in Sarver, a rural corner of Butler County. Cindrich believes this upbringing gave him a plainspoken manner that helps him connect with juries.
“He has this aspect of kind of a country boy,” Cindrich said.
“In fact, he's a highly educated, highly sophisticated lawyer.”
Years after Lindsay left life as a fed for private practice, that down-to-earth approach is still there.
Butler County District Attorney Richard Goldinger squared off with Lindsay during the 2008 trial of James Borchert, who confessed to the 2007 killing of his wife and her lover.
Goldinger won a conviction against Borchert, but he could tell Lindsay captured the jury's attention.
“It was kind of funny. He went into this southern drawl when he gave his closing argument and refers to himself as a country boy,” Goldinger said.
Gideon Bradshaw is an intern with the Pennsylvania Legislative Correspondents Association. Reach him at email@example.com.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Harmony man facing charges in fatal crash
- Zelienople park board discusses idea of replacing pool
- Butler County task force aims to raise awareness about suicide
- CV Elementary teachers think about math process
- Renewed awareness of ALS gives hope to those with disease in Butler County and beyond
- New police chief position could be in works for Cranberry
- XTO to rework application to drill near Moraine State Park
- Butler motorists can pay for parking with new app
- Skateboarding popularity ramps up concerns in Zelienople
- United Way of Butler County, school districts to prepare students for changing job market
- Government offices, some businesses closed for Labor Day in Butler