Defense Attorney In Death Penalty Case Resigning – Alleges Acts Of Retaliation

A criminal defense attorney is alleging that his wife, who is currently an inmate in the Beaver County Jail, is being retaliated against because he raised serious questions about the propriety of the facility while representing a man who is facing the death penalty. Now sources say the attorney has told a judge he intends to resign from the case.

Gerald Benyo is one of two defense attorneys representing Beau Chermer. Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty against Chermer, and his stepbrother Joseph Arlott, who they say tortured eighty-two year old Daniel Joseph Santia of Hopewell Township during a robbery in April 2012. Santia died three weeks following the attack. Beaver County President Judge John McBride declared a mistrial last week in the capital murder trial for the two men, after determining a county detective in the case had provided false testimony while on the stand. A retrial has been scheduled for March 24th.

Courthouse sources told the Beaver Countian of a previously undisclosed controversy that began on January 27th as jury selection was underway for the capital murder trial. While defendants Chermer and Arlott were in the courtroom, a guard at the Beaver County Jail searched the cells of the two inmates and seized several items. The correctional officer who searched the cells is said to be Sergeant Pete Cipolla, who is related to an officer with the Hopewell Township Police Department which brought charges against the two men; some of the items that were in the inmates’ cells are described as “privileged communications” between the defendants and their attorneys.

On January 28th, attorney Gerald Benyo raised the issue to Judge McBride on behalf of Beau Chermer. Judge McBride subsequently ordered the District Attorney’s Office to contact the jail and have the matter investigated. In response, District Attorney Tony Berosh made arrangements for the defense attorneys to view items seized from their clients’ cells.

It was just hours after attorney Benyo raised the issue about the jail with Judge McBride that the alleged retaliation against his wife began.

Sharon Benyo has been incarcerated in the Beaver County Jail since being convicted of a drunk driving charge from last September. Guards at the facility describe the woman as an inmate who had received no disciplinary actions against her, and who was successfully participating in the facility’s work release program.

As Sharon Benyo was preparing to leave the jail for work on the afternoon of January 28th, the same day her husband raised concerns about the search of his client’s cell, she was stopped by a correctional officer for carrying papers from other inmates who were hoping to apply for a job at Burger King. Sources say Lieutenant Matthews, who oversees the work release program, determined Benyo may have broken an unspecified rule governing inmates and ordered she be placed on lockdown in her cell for one day. But guards at the facility tell the Beaver Countian that Deputy Warden Carol Steele overruled the Lieutenant’s directive, ordering Sharon Benyo be thrown into solitary confinement instead. Lieutenant Matthews objected to the move.

Judge McBride, who was unaware of the issues surrounding Benyo, later directed Deputy Warden Carol Steele to appear before him on January 30th to further address the matter of Chermer and Arlott’s cells being searched and to discuss the possible disclosure of privileged communications.

According to several guards at the facility, it was after Deputy Warden Steele returned to the jail from the courthouse that formal action was taken against Sharon Benyo. Benyo was kicked out of her work release program and ordered to remain in restrictive housing, where she has remained under 23 hour lockdown in solitary confinement. Benyo was ordered to be housed in solitary confinement for at least 30 days, and officials tell the Beaver Countian that she will likely lose her time off for good behavior as a result. While Benyo may have been eligible for release as soon as the end of this month, she now faces the possibility of remaining in jail through August.

Several guards at the jail say Sharon Benyo was never provided with a list of the specific rules she was alleged to have broken, and they say Deputy Warden Steele ordered the punishment before a hearing was held in the matter.

“I have never seen an inmate punished in this way, ever,” said one guard, who spoke on condition they not be quoted by name because they were not authorized to speak to the press. “This entire thing was blown out of proportion by Carol [Steele].”

Sources tell the Beaver Countian that at least one jail guard has spoken to members of the Beaver County Prison Board expressing concerns about Sharon Benyo’s treatment at the facility. Warden Bill Schouppe was also discussing the matter with county officials today.

Other courthouse sources tell the Beaver Countian that Defense Attorney Gerald Benyo has given a letter of resignation to President Judge McBride, saying he can no longer represent Beau Chermer because the alleged retaliatory actions being taken against his wife are creating a conflict of interest for him.

Gerald Benyo declined to provide comment for this article, citing an informal gag order put in place by Judge McBride. Deputy Warden Carol Steele could not be reached in time for publication.

 

38 comments

  1. Can’t blame him for wanting to resign.

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  2. So he could not keep his own wife out of jail. But then I went to look up her rap sheet, wow arrested for public drunkness, assault resisting arrest, disorderly conduct, drugs, on and on, three pages of docket sheets, maybe he wants her locked up where she belongs.

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    • Gringo, she should have been there a long time ago. Rehab might help too.

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      • No rehab, enough with the rehab for these criminals , jail time should be enough to rehab them from their BEHAVIORS not so called diseases.

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      • You may not like it, but this is a disease, a very evil one, and difficult to overcome. Do some research. Btw, you’re own opinion doesn’t count as research.

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  3. Knowing carol Steele all my life , she is a straight arrow and follows all the rules as the are written ! Find it hard to believe she played a role in retaliation against this woman ! She does her job the right way , and doesn’t worry about who likes her or not !

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  4. wow for such a small county, there is some real effed up shit going on around here….

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  5. SpeakTheTruthToo

    WOW! Gerald Benyo sure knows how to pick em’. Guess it would kill him financially to divorce this trainwreck? That’s the only reason I can think of as to why he would remain married to her.

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  6. After this debacle im sure if there was a road to recovery it’s taking a detour.

    Straight back to what got her in this predicament.

    But other note Benyo is a rock star rising defense attorney, Lord knows he got more than a few off with murder, and from what judges say he is really good on trial, with the jury then again opposition from prosecution is hetchy at best the under 50 club just glad they got a pay check, no pride and honor for wins or losses.

    When Tony B and Tesla where trying cases it was about the victims and winning

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  7. I don’t care about her previous record.  Other individuals have spent time in jail. With the DUI laws, anyone can end up in jail.  What bothers me is that Carol Steele pulled the rug out from under Lt. Matthews.  Isn’t work release his program? I appears to me that Ms Steele likes to throw her weight around.  Also, there are just too many people in that jail that are related to people in other law enforcement areas.  Besides being related to a Hopewell Twp. person, isn’t Sgt. Cipolla related to a sheriffs deputy? Don’t forget all the drinking buddies between the various departments, too.

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    • Nepotism is alive and thriving in Beaver County. Always has been, and if there isn’t anyone willing to make any changes, it always will be. It’s a sad state of affairs…..

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  8. If it looks like a skunk and smells like a skunk……what is wrong with this world anymore, people in high position doing exactly what they darn well please, someone needs to take the power away from the criminals when they have personal agendas!!! Its everywhere anymore and God is watching, every single act, word, lie, they will not escape any of their choices, but they lives their lives like they don’t care, I don’t get it!! I feel sorry for them!!

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  9. Carol Steele is like John Wayne – she tell it like it is a one of the most educated and common sense woman that I know. Sgt Cipolla was doing his job – most people in corrections and law enforcement tend to be related. Gee why don’t you blame him for world hunger and the global warming – get real people. Mr Benyo is very good at his job and if he feels he should excuse himself that is his choice. Mrs Benyo has made some mistakes and she is paying for them. I really don’t think she intended to break the rules, but to help another person. But the rules are the rules in jail. As for the few C/Os that belong to the Hug A Thug Club or just want to be important by getting involved with the Beaver Countian by spreading bull shit, maybe they should be doing their job or maybe they want to pass out candy, chips, and bottle water to the inmates so they can sleep at night.

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  10. David Pyle. Well said. 110% agree with you.

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  11. To the sheep (Ba Ba) and David Pyle: what do other inmates get for the same infraction? Sometimes common sense flies right out the window when someone has a special agenda. Maybe the person who “squealed” wanted to even out the playing field. Everyone who has had a family member living at the jail knows certain people get special treatment; if you are related to someone who works for the county or someone in law enforcement those inmates are treated with special courtesy.  And believe me that is TRUE!

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  12. Iam a little disappoint JP u couldn’t find the time to cover the Walsh murder but u always find time for sloppy political bullshit . Shift gears u are starting to sound like a fucking gas bag !!!!!!!!!!! 

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  13. I wander how long gerald benyo will be on the “save a hoe” committee.. because he has most def been on it for an EXTREMELY long time. & i’m not just talking about his wife.. i am really contemplating calling kdka & exposing his dirt that he “thinkss” is a secret.. hahaha the sad thing is i have information that would incriminate him as $o called “attorney”..games are about to end.. seems to me that benyo is REAL upset because he has very little pull in BCJ to see that his wife gets fed bon bons and prime rib with a side of cheesecake. Get real dude… its.funny how benyo completely takes the focus off of WHAT HIS MISTRESS i mean wife..i mean..ohh who knows.there are consequences for EVERY action including yours mr.benyo.. even though you are extremely attracted to dope fienss…and yes there is an “s” after fien…doesnt mean because you’re an attorney who takes ALLLLLL diff kinds of payments;) –that bcj is.gonna be a luxurious vacation for everyone on your “save a hoe” committee. I spent weeks in bcj with plenty.of women on your committee. ;)

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    • SpeakTheTruthToo

      Now this is some interesting stuff here.

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      • It’s not really that interesting to people who know other people who know what’s going on. There’s probably nothing that could be said about him that I ain’t already heard by now. The only interesting thing about that babble up there is the fucking migraine it’s giving me trying to decipher all of it.

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  14. johnnytellitlikeitis

    hmmm… If this were an 82 year old black man and there was a mistrial… It would be national news, riots, and whining and crying by every black organization. We’d be listening to Al Sharpton’s big mouth. Being that it’s an 82 year old Italian man who was the victim, this most likely won’t make it past local news. Where are you at Italian Americans?

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  15. Aww so sorry it wasnt interesting enough for you.. i wrote it just for you and i feel so horrible that it gave u a migraine..too bad beavercountian.com could give 2 shits less about your migraine.. call your boy benyo & get him to hook u up with something and some one who cares:)

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    • Ohhhh, sweetie, you sound so butthurt. Get the fuck over yourself. You ain’t got shit to say about him that I ain’t already heard. I probably know about 75% of his clientele, and, basically, I’m smart enough to not deal in rumors and accusations. That’s how you get sued, jackass.”My boy Benyo.” That in itself is funny. I CAN’T STAND LAWYERS. They rank just a little above cops for me. You may not have written that just for me, but hon, I’m writing this just for you: Kiss my fat fucking ass. (oh, ps, I’m sure I have better hookups than he does. LOL)

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  16. Im butthurt & u have a migraine..ok.. im real proud of you that you know 75 percent of his.clientel but u hate cops and lawyers.hahaha sounds like one of benyo’s finest and omg lol real proud of u that.you have better hookups… you sound like.a winner.. you must be the girl angel always tricked with..awww.comeup! Atleast.benyo got you takin care of.his light work. Sounds like the only ass.kissing being done is.u kissing his.. u must be gettin cool points for this.. real proud of you.. we all are.. keep comin back

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    • I’m sorry but you have me confused with someone else. Also, if you want to be taken seriously, you might want to stop for a minute, scrape together the remnants of your 7th grade education (the bits and pieces that are still there, that you haven’t smoked away, that is), and try to ACTUALLY compose a correct sentence. It’s not really that hard. Most computers and phones these days already have spell check, so you might want to utilize it. We don’t speak “ghetto” here, we speak English. So, go on, shoo. Oh, while you are at it, you might want to look up the meanings of the words “slander and libel”  :)

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  17. Wow, the only people who get this heated about something that has nothing to do with them, are people who got burned. So, was it him or her that did it to you? Which one narc’d on you, or did he just refuse to take your case?

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  18. Im sorry u are taking the posts as so personal.. you can continue trying to one up me & sound as if your so educated.. buttt reality is… your just another fien trying to pose as benyo’s attorney hahaha .. the truth hurts sweetie. I am very aware of what slander is but the thing is..everything that i have stated is 100 percent proven fact.. im actually contemplating meeting with kdka tomorrow .. Hahaha whats wrong benyo advocant.. or prob benyo himself..are you angry that someone came on here with some knowledge of whats really going on.. i havent even gotten to the good shit yet..im just.getting started sweetie..grab some popcorn.. & your pipe… needle..whatever and enjoy..we should call this “true confessions featuring angel, ,gerald” & then we could name your show “BBB ft “nikki p””(benyos back.bone)

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    • I’m not taking them personal at all. KDKA would be absolutely stupid for talking to you, considering unless you have everything on tape or video, you can’t prove anything. “Benyo advocate”  <–that right there, is the funniest thing I've read in a long time. He has his own account, as you've already seen. Mine was established a while ago also. I have nothing to do with him. I'm pretty sure that I figured out why you're so salty…the Cap'n kicked you off his boat, didn't he? Either that, or "Angel" helped get you kicked to the curb, which means you had to go back to trickin' again, didn't you? Oh, is it a slow night in Falls tonight? Must be, if your pimp ain't beating your ass right now for being on your phone so much…  ;)

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  19. I am actually real proud of myself because i have been very nice.. those were probably the nicest things i have ever said about benyo..i am going to start getting a little mean though but still stating facts that we can both back up for days.. stay tuned.. dont be scared BBB everything comes.out in the end.the truth shall set you freeeee;) –did i spell angel right.. somethin tells me Angel is nott an angel..atleast that’s what the word on the streets are..just another one of benyo’s snapss..did i spell snap right?

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  20. johnnytellitlikeitis

    While I enjoy reading the Beaver Countian and all your comments, add up all the time it took for all of us to post this nonsense and imagine what good we could have done if that time was devoted to a positive cause such as a local charity. As you can see, I’m just as guilty as many of you, but there is a lot of wasted energy going on here.  There’s people at Children’s Hospital who would love to have “our problems.”

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