Several Ohioville Borough Council members chastised Mayor John Szatkiewicz during a public meeting held earlier this month before calling for his resignation, according to several sources familiar with the proceedings. Szatkiewicz remained defiant at the meeting, saying he will not relinquish control over the town’s police department despite accusations by council members that he continues to harass its officers.
Sources tell the Beaver Countian that Ohioville Council members Kenneth Doughty, Richard Decker, and Denise Cox were all outspoken against Mayor Szatkiewicz at the public meeting held on September 3rd. Council scolded Szatkiewicz for calling an officer on his personal cellphone the day domestic violence charges were filed against him, directing the officer to his home and instructing him not to create a police report. Sources say Szatkiewicz didn’t deny the accusations during the public meeting, and purportedly told council members he instructed officers not to create an incident report because he didn’t want to “give the Borough a black eye.” Criminal charges are still pending against Szatkiewicz, although it remains uncertain if prosecutors will proceed with their case against him after the woman he allegedly beat died unexpectedly from an unrelated condition.
Council members also accused Szatkiewicz of continuing to harass Officer Nevin Beatty, the man who initiated a criminal investigation into Ohioville Police Chief Ron Lutton. Chief Lutton was subsequently charged with 64 felonies by the Pennsylvania State Police, who alleged he stole tens of thousands of dollars from Borough taxpayers by forging documents and falsifying records. Lutton waived a preliminary hearing in his case back in July, and has tentatively accepted a plea deal from prosecutors.
Mayor Szatkiewicz had publicly accused Officer Beatty of being on a “witch hunt,” and defended Chief Lutton throughout the criminal investigation against him. Officer Beatty has filed a lawsuit against Ohioville Borough alleging he was retaliated against for exposing public corruption in the town.
A request by the Beaver Countian for draft minutes from the September 3rd public meeting was denied by the Borough, saying they would first have to be approved by council at their next meeting which was to take place on September 17th. But not enough council members attended that meeting to reach a quorum, leaving the minutes unapproved and off-limits to the public.
After receiving a tip from a confidential source that an audio recording of the meeting had been made by Borough Officials, the Beaver Countian submitted an Open Records Request seeking a copy of the tape. The Pennsylvania Office of Open Records has previously ruled that such recordings are public and subject to the state’s Right-to-Know law (Advisory Opinion 2009-003). That request was met by more stall tactics from Borough Officials, who insisted they needed time for a legal review, and also needed time to determine “whether or not documents that would satisfy your request exist.”
Ohioville Borough says they “expect to be able to respond” to requests by the Beaver Countian for public records by October 25th, just days before Mayor Szatkiewicz’s name will appear on a ballot for reelection.