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Washington County commissioners to pay for embattled official

| Thursday, March 20, 2008

Washington County commissioners decided Wednesday to pay $139,000 to former District Attorney John Pettit, who is the subject of a federal public corruption investigation.

Calling Pettit's behavior "reprehensible" and "malicious," a federal jury in 2001 ordered the then-District Attorney to pay convicted drug dealer Fred Brilla punitive damages for failing to return property seized in a 1989 drug arrest. Brilla was murdered in 2003.

The county commissioners and controller Michael Namie rejected Pettit's demands that county taxpayers pay the damages, but Common Pleas Court and later Commonwealth Court ordered the county to pay damages and Pettit's legal fees.

The bill, submitted last month by Pettit's attorney, includes $81,190 for the punitive damages plus interest and $57,305 for Pettit's legal fees.

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