McCullough's spat with own lawyer in court leads to delay
Usually the lawyers doing battle in the Allegheny County Courthouse represent different sides in the case.
On Wednesday, a nasty split between attorney Chuck McCullough and the man he hired to represent him at his pending theft trial played out in front of a packed courtroom. It ended with defense attorney Patrick Thomassey pulling out of the case because of irreconcilable differences.
"I couldn't get along with Chuck. He wanted me to file motions that I didn't think I could file," Thomassey said after the contentious hearing in front of Common Pleas Judge Donald E. Machen. "The stuff he filed (about me) was hurtful and nonsense. I have never, ever not been prepared to try a case."
"He's not prepared and has not been prepared," McCullough, 56, of Upper St. Clair told the judge. "(Thomassey) said to me, 'I am not intellectually capable of doing this case.'"
Thomassey denied saying that.
Machen granted Thomassey's request to withdraw and agreed to postpone the case for at least the seventh time. McCullough, a former Republican county councilman who ran for county executive last spring, told the judge that he hoped to hire attorney Jon Pushinsky.
The departure means McCullough's trial, which had been scheduled for Nov. 7, will be postponed until February. Prosecutors accuse him of bilking an elderly client, Shirley Jordan, of $200,000 while working as her attorney.
Because it was Machen's first case of the day, a few dozen lawyers and defendants awaiting their hearings got to witness the spat.
McCullough claimed Thomassey told him during a meeting that he was too busy to interview witnesses before trial, that he did not understand several motions filed in the case and that he usually just handles "shoot-em-ups and murders."
Thomassey denied that.
McCullough resigned his council seat in March to run for county executive, which he said Thomassey encouraged him to do. He lost the Republican primary to D. Raja of Mt. Lebanon.
"At the very least, I had a chance in the primary before all these continuances. I think a lot of people got the perception I was chicken," he said.
McCullough said he did not fire Thomassey, considered him a friend and sends him prayer cards.
"I pray the rosary for him," McCullough said. "I pray that Mr. Thomassey step up and do this case or step out of the way."
Thomassey said McCullough wanted him to file frivolous motions.
"I'm not going to attack the prosecutor or the prosecutor's office. This is not a political vendetta. It's not a political case," Thomassey said. "It's a question of if he committed a crime with Mrs. Jordan's money."
Prosecutors say McCullough tried to abuse his power of attorney to take money from Jordan's $16 million estate, enrich his family and make political donations to build alliances for a 2007 campaign. McCullough has contended that an Orphans' Court judge approved his actions. McCullough faces two dozen counts, including felony theft charges.
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.
- Martin’s homer rescues Pirates in 4-2 victory over Brewers
- Marc USA acquires Boston-based Results:Digital
- City’s plan for Strip flummoxes vendors
- Sears to close store at Century III Mall in West Mifflin
- Local groups hope NFL lends support
- North Versailles restaurant, dance studio damaged in crash
- Beaver footprints found along Allegheny River bank, not gator
- Steelers notebook: Ravens DL fined for hit on Roethlisberger
- Judge lifts order blocking racy state emails
- New Kensington fire remains under investigation
- Harhai campaign emails from 2007 under review, Westmoreland County DA says