Sheriff George David (beaver countian file photo)

Following a contentious day of testimony from current and former county officials, Senior Erie County Judge John Bozza said the Beaver County Sheriff’s Office is violating state law, and indicated he will likely be issuing an injunction against Sheriff George David.

After an investigative report by the Beaver Countian last August, County Commissioners filed a lawsuit against Sheriff David attempting to stop him from having his Deputies perform private security services for outside entities, which they deemed a violation of state law. A preliminary audit conducted by the County Controller’s Office subsequently showed David has been underbilling for those services, costing taxpayers nearly $100,000 to date.

Today’s hearing was set to determine if a preliminary injunction would be issued against Sheriff David, compelling him to cease and desist from having his deputies perform those outside activities.

The day started with Assistant Beaver County Solicitor Bernie Rabik calling Sheriff George David to the stand. David didn’t get much further than stating his name before Sheriff’s Solicitor Myron Sainovich, who had recused himself from the case, stood in the spectator’s gallery. “I recommend Sheriff David not answer any questions […] pursuant to the Fifth Amendment,” said Sainovich. The Fifth Amendment protects witnesses from being forced to incriminate themselves while on the stand. Attorneys for the county didn’t object, and Sheriff David was excused from testifying by Judge Bozza.

“It was nice to finally meet you Sheriff David. I’ve read a lot about you,” said Judge Bozza as the Sheriff left the stand. Sheriff David replied, “Everybody has, thanks judge.” The exchange garnered laughs from the crowd that came to watch the proceedings.

The County’s second and final witness was Riccardo Luckow, a contracted Certified Public Accountant who works in Controller David Rossi’s Office. Luckow testified about a report of preliminary findings he compiled, detailing private security services being performed by the Sheriff’s Office.

Attorney Eric Stoltenberg, who represented the Beaver County Deputy Sheriffs’ Association, called union president Sergeant Michael Tibolet to the stand as his sole witness. Tibolet testified that the majority of the county’s Deputies perform extra duties, which include providing security services for corporations. He said Deputies use county cars and dress in full uniform while performing those services. Tibolet told the judge he makes an average of $15,000 per year in overtime by doing the outside work.

Attorney John Havey, who represented Sheriff David, next called County Financial Administrator Vince LaValle to the stand. LaValle testified that previous audits did not mention any problems with the deputies performing outside services. He said that he was provided with a copy of the preliminary findings generated by Controller Rossi’s office. LaValle said he took action after reading that report. “Based upon what I read, and the information that I had, I cut his overtime budget,” said LaValle.

Havey next called former Republican County Commissioner Charlie Camp to the stand. Havey appeared stunned after Camp testified that he didn’t recall a conversation held 6 years ago between himself, former Commissioner Dan Donatella, former Financial Administrator Rob Cyphert, Sergeant Tibolet, and others. “I was expecting him to say something different than what he did,” Havey told the judge. Camp was excused after just moments on the stand. “Welcome to Beaver County,” he quipped to Judge Bozza as he stepped down, with the courtroom again breaking out into laughter.

Commissioner Joe Spanik was next to be called to the stand by Attorney John Havey. Commissioner Spanik testified that he had meetings about the Sheriff’s Office doing security work for Cinemark under the previous Sheriff, Felix DeLuca. “We didn’t know if we could do Cinemark,” he said. “There was suppose to be an agreement […] to this day I have never seen that agreement.” Spanik said that any agreements with entities outside of the county should be drafted into a contract, which would need to be reviewed by the county’s law department, then passed as a resolution at a public meeting. Commissioner Spanik testified that procedure had not been followed for any private security work being conducted by Sheriff George David and his Deputies.

Attorney Havey then tried to call County Solicitor Joseph Askar as a witness. Havey had subpoenaed Askar’s testimony, but the county’s law department subsequently motioned to have that subpoena quashed. Judge Bozza granted their motion from the bench, freeing Askar from having to take the stand.

Controller David Rossi was next to take the stand. Havey attempted to question Rossi about how he distributed documents to the press, and about the Right-to-Know law. Judge Bozza ruled that line of questioning irrelevant to the case. Rossi testified he attempted to contact the Sheriff’s Office with an offer to help them calculate an hourly rate for his Deputies that wouldn’t leave a deficit for taxpayers, but never received a response.

Havey concluded by calling a series of witnesses to testify about security services that the Deputies have been performing. Hopewell High School Principal Michael Allison, Hookstown Fair Organizer William Laughlin Jr, and Chippewa Police Chief Robert Berchtold all said the services provided by the Sheriff’s Department were important for their individual organizations. On cross examination, they all conceded there may be other entities that could perform those services in place of Sheriff’s Deputies. Judge Bozza precluded Havey from calling additional witnesses to testify on the subject, deeming them redundant.

Judge Bozza declined to hear closing arguments from the parties, and instead issued a finding from the bench.

“There is almost no disagreement that the Sheriff and Deputy Sheriffs are performing services, or official duties, for a person, association, or corporation” said Judge Bozza. “That is what the statute seems to prohibit.”

After a few remarks about a preliminary injunction, Judge Bozza directed both parties to begin formulating thoughts on how one should be crafted. “I’m going to ask you all to do some serious thinking about how you would like to have this structured,” said the judge, who gave both sides fourteen days to submit their opinions.

“If the provisioning of law enforcement services is dependent on whether they are being paid for,” concluded Judge Bozza, “[…] that would fundamentally change the course of policing.”

Assistant County Solicitor Bernie Rabik said he was pleased with what he heard from Judge Bozza today. “I think it was clear to the judge the statute was being violated. It is not yet clear how he is going to craft the injunction.”

Note: In the interest of full disclosure, the Beaver Countian has released a statement regarding an incident involving Sheriff George David and this reporter.

John Paul
John Paul is the founder of the Beaver Countian. He reports full-time for the site, specializing in investigative journalism with an emphasis on public corruption.

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lol
Guest
lol

This good shit, and sounds like the commissioners won and can craft what they want.

Anyone mention why there isn’t sheriff union? Just association now for collective bargaining! How that came about and who got what when they sold the fellow brothers out?

Ring ring, hello this is Kathy Kane new attorney general….yes this is trooper who ever are you comfortable and settled…Kane.yes dear…..troopers well where ready for you to sign off to indict …Kane yes well aware how many counts? Troopers… Ahh you got a calculator

Time to get out the MOP

tax payer 1
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tax payer 1

Commissioners tell the sheriff to pay back all the money he wasted giving services on the tax payers dollars, he needs to pay it back, sell some sheriff’s cars less gas and insurance the tax payers have to pay, quit breaking the law, and Tibolet you know you made more money in over time than you admitted too, another lie and cut his budget in half. Thank You and good job Judge …..

FIFTH
Guest
FIFTH

TOOK THE FIFTH WHICH PROTECTS YOU FROM INCRIMINATING YOURSELF THAT SAYS IT ALL JUDGE SAYS YOU BROKE STATE LAWS I THINK YOUR IN TROUBLE………..

mvee
Member
mvee

“no commissioner, no judge, no one’s going to tell me that I can’t do it.”

Aw shit. The “I’m the Sheriff of Beaver County” thing did not work out for George.

Who would have guessed?

If you want to place bets on what happens next, I know a guy to call. He’s missing his bag. Can you help an old man find his bag?

So in a couple months it went from “I’m a bad ass” to pleading the fifth? What a pussy. He stood on channel 11 and said he would do it for the kids. What about the kid’s George? THE FREAKING KIDS! What about the Movie Theater?

Will the show go on? Because this shit is better than the 90’s Law and Order. I can’t wait for this story to show up on Cable.

Can anyone remember the last time a sitting sheriff pleaded the fifth in Pennsylvania? This has to be one for the record books. And not the good kind.

July 11, 1972 the Beaver County Sheriff was indicted. I guess it could happen again.

I guess in hindsight waving a gun at a reporter was not a good idea eh?

The real bad ass here is John Paul. This site literally is the best thing to happen to BC news. I am so grateful for the dedication he puts into this site. I was sort of tired of reading the Times and the only thing worth looking at was Michael Pounds video of what he was thinking about on the toilet 10 minutes before.

The fifth? Really? The fifth? Good luck with that.

At some point I expect some really crazy stuff to happen with this story.

Could you imagine what it would be like for George in jail? I bet he would wear his Dress uniform to Lunch.

Still thinking about James Naim? Anyone?

Me so horny
Guest
Me so horny

Am I to believe that Spanik, Amadio and Camp never went to the movie theater and noticed the sheriff cars parked out front? With Spaniks testimony, you’d have to think that a logical person would have thought “hey, we didn’t approve this yet!”