Fayette County DA appoints PR director
Fayette County's district attorney has assigned one of his employees to act as the office's public relations director.
District Attorney Jack Heneks on Thursday advised a Tribune-Review reporter to direct questions to his new public relations director, Ryan Clark.
Clark, a legal secretary who has worked for Heneks for two years, said the district attorney assigned him the new duties last Friday. Clark said it is the first time in recent memory the office has had a public relations director.
Clark said his duties will include acting as a “buffer” between Heneks and the press.
“It does get overwhelming for him at times,” Clark said, adding that another one of his duties will be to distribute press releases. “There are a lot of people coming at him with questions.”
Clark said he studied public relations while attending California University of Pennsylvania and plans to return to school to obtain his degree.
Dominic Carnicella, human relations director, on Thursday said he was unaware of Clark's new duties. Carnicella said Heneks and other elected officials can assign duties to their employees as they see fit.
County employees represented by labor unions sometimes seek reclassifications when their duties are changed, Carnicella said. Carnicella said he had not received any requests to reclassify Clark, whose position pays $11.82 per hour.
Clark's new duties were assigned a day after Heneks appeared on Oct. 24 before a grand jury in Harrisburg. Heneks declined comment to a Tribune-Review reporter that day when he left the building in Strawberry Square where the grand jury meets in secret, and he would not confirm whether he testified.
Through Clark, Heneks on Thursday declined another request for comment on his Harrisburg visit.
Heneks' appearance followed that of at least two assistant district attorneys who were called to testify before the same grand jury in September.
The attorneys, Doug Sepic and Michelle Kelley, would not comment on their testimony.
Four others with connections to a DUI case that originally was dismissed against the nephew of Assistant District Attorney Linda Cordaro, then refiled through the state attorney general's office, were called to testify in September.
They include the district judge who dismissed the original case, the prosecuting trooper and two witnesses who testified at a preliminary hearing once the case was reopened. All have declined to comment.
District Judge Dwight Shaner of Smock repeatedly has asserted he is not permitted to speak about his testimony.
Under state law, jurors and prosecutors are prohibited from publicly discussing grand jury proceedings. But in most instances, witnesses are free to reveal their testimony, if they so choose.
In the first preliminary hearing on the DUI case, Shaner on Dec. 13, 2011, dismissed drunken-driving charges against Robert Lee Rudnik, 30, of Connellsville. Cordaro, who is Rudnik's aunt, was the assistant district attorney assigned to prosecute cases at Shaner's office that day. She told the Tribune-Review earlier this year that she recused herself.
Cordaro is one of two candidates in the November election for two seats on the county bench. She is expected to ascend to the bench in January.
Jeremy Davis, a Uniontown attorney who represented Rudnik at the hearing, said in September that the trooper did not have witnesses available to testify, so his request for dismissal was granted.
Rudnik is accused of fleeing when his Dodge Durango hit a mailbox and guide rail on Sept. 14, 2011, on Monarch Road in Dunbar. According to a criminal complaint, a witness told troopers that Rudnik drove away and parked his sport utility vehicle in front of a nearby residence.
The complaint said troopers found Rudnik at his residence, where he acknowledged striking the mailbox and leaving his truck at a friend's home. A breath test indicated Rudnik's blood-alcohol content was 0.166 percent, twice the legal limit for intoxication in Pennsylvania.
At the direction of state Deputy Attorney General L. Todd Goodwin, Trooper Joseph Ross refiled the charges, and the case was held for trial after a Sept. 9 preliminary hearing before Redstone District Judge Mike Defino.
Defino was assigned to the case when Shaner recused himself for “personal reasons,” according to a letter to President Judge John F. Wagner Jr.
Ross and two witnesses who testified at Rudnik's Sept. 9 preliminary hearing, Thomas Brown and James Glunt, both of Dunbar Township, in September declined to comment about their testimony.
Rudnik, who is free on $2,500 unsecured bond, is scheduled to appear on Feb. 24 before President Judge John F. Wagner Jr. for a pretrial conference.
Liz Zemba is a reporter for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-601-2166 or 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.
- Geibel grad dreams big, lands role in second feature film
- Fayette judge: Man not competent to stand trial for fatal stabbing
- Laurel Highlands teacher ‘humbled’ by St. Vincent award
- Connellsville to host job fair
- Couple hope Connellsville shop will attract trail users
- Uniontown Lady Red Raiders softball players playing with heart
- Official says Connellsville on right path
- 3 oppose incumbent GOP Fayette commissioner
- Houston pipeline firm sues North Union Township over road work
- Park, library upgrades on agenda for Connellsville Redevelopment Authority
- Mill Run woman sentenced in daughter’s death