Criminal charges against the Ohioville Borough Mayor were dismissed before a preliminary hearing scheduled for this morning.
Mayor John Szatkiewicz was arrested by Ohioville Police back on August 7th after they say he attacked Theresa Tice, the adult daughter of his live-in girlfriend Linda Tice. Police allege Szatkiewicz slammed the woman’s head off of a doorjamb several times before placing one of his hands around her throat and another over her mouth and nose while telling her, “This is how I was trained to kill people.” Police also allege Szatkiewicz attempted to stop the woman from calling 911 for help.
Szatkiewicz has denied assaulting the woman.
Theresa Tice died several weeks following the incident after being hospitalized for what law enforcement sources say were medical problems unrelated to the alleged assault. Assistant District Attorney Ashley Elias, who handled the case, said the woman’s death prevented their office from proceeding with a successful prosecution.
“I want to say emphatically that [Teresa Tice's] death had nothing to do with the incident involving Mayor Szatkiewicz,” District Attorney Anthony Berosh told the Beaver Countian. Berosh said he talked with medical professionals who told him they were confident Tice died from unrelated causes, and added the woman had been seriously ill for some time.
Mayor Szatkiewicz’s defense attorney Myron Sainovich was heard joking with Ohioville Borough Assistant Police Chief Mark Smilek about Tice’s death in the courtroom before today’s scheduled hearing. “I feel like a member of the Gambino crime family… I need a continuance.. I need time to take care of the witnesses,” joked attorney Sainovich, imitating a voice from the Godfather movie. Assistant Chief Smilek was laughing along with Sainovich. The defense attorney later joked “That’s why we continued the case, we had to whack the family before we got here to court.”
The pair stopped joking about Tice’s death after being approached by Ohioville Officer Nevin Beatty, who effectuated the arrest of Mayor Szatkiewicz on the night of the alleged assault. Szatkiewicz was not present in the courtroom during the crass banter.
Mayor Szatkiewicz’s legal problems aren’t over after today’s dismissal of the criminal charges against him. Szatkiewicz remains a named defendant in a civil lawsuit brought against him and other Borough officials, including Chief Ronald Lutton and Assistant Chief Mark Smilek, by Officer Beatty. The officer alleges he was retaliated against after sparking a public corruption investigation into Chief Lutton, who is currently facing 64 felony counts filed against him by the Pennsylvania State Police. Defense attorney Sainovich is also representing Chief Lutton in his pending criminal case.
Several members of Ohioville Borough Council have called for Mayor Szatkiewicz’s resignation.