Kittanning woman drops state Supreme Court appeal regarding charity restitution
A woman whose appeal was accepted for review by the state Supreme Court on Wednesday has changed her mind and asked her attorney to drop the appeal of her paying restitution to three Armstrong County charities.
Beverly Kaye Steffey, 65, of Kittanning, has “decided that she does not want the case to proceed, and has asked that her appeal be withdrawn, despite the fact that this would expose her to severe sanctions should she become unable to continue to pay back these community groups,” her attorney, Chuck Pascal, of Leechburg, told the Tribune-Review.
Attempts to reach Steffey by phone and Facebook on Wednesday night were unsuccessful.
In 2017, Steffey, a bookkeeper, pleaded guilty to theft and forgery. She was ordered to repay about $129,000 restitution to the Progressive Workshop, about $83,000 to Allegheny Valley Land Trust and about $6,000 to the Armstrong County Conservancy.
In a story published Wednesday by the Tribune-Review, the state Supreme Court announced that it had agreed to hear Steffey’s appeal that she has to pay the restitution.
But at about 7 p.m., Pascal called the newspaper to say Steffey had decided to end her appeal.
“Ms. Steffey has decided that she does not want the case to proceed, and has asked that her appeal be withdrawn, despite the fact that this would expose her to severe sanctions should she become unable to continue to pay back these community groups,” Pascal said.
Steffey has “always intended to do her best to pay back as much of the losses as possible to the Progressive Workshop, Allegheny Valley Land Trust and the Armstrong County Conservancy and would do so even without an order from the court requiring her to do so,” her attorney said.
Pascal said “She wants to do what is right” and has consistently made payments toward restitution since her release from jail.
“The legal issue involved here, however, is that the court’s order of restitution exposes her to criminal penalties should she, at some time, become unable to continue to make payments,” Pascal said.
“This has been misunderstood by many in the community, and the perception that she is attempting to not pay back these groups, although false, but has made it difficult for her to find employment.”
He said the case would have dealt with an important legal question that could have impacted many cases across the state.
But, Pascal concluded, “the important thing to me is that Ms. Steffey be able to overcome this misconception in the community about her intentions, rebuild her reputation and find employment, in this, a community which she loves and which is her home.”
Armstrong County District Attorney Katie Charlton, who expressed concerns about the situation previously, did not return a call for comment made after Steffey changed her mind.
Chuck Biedka is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Chuck at 724-226-4711, firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter .