The Supreme Court of Pennsylvania has denied an appeal filed by the Beaver County Deputy Sheriffs Association in a lawsuit brought against them and Sheriff David by the Beaver County Board of Commissioners.
The ruling by the Supreme Court means a preliminary junction issued by Senior Erie County Judge John Bozza, preventing the Sheriff’s Office from performing private security services for outside organizations, has been upheld.
After an investigative report by the Beaver Countian in August of 2012 first exposed the issue, County Commissioners filed a lawsuit against Sheriff David attempting to stop him from having his Deputies perform private security services for outside entities, which Judge Bozza subsequently determined was a violation of state law.
An audit conducted by County Controller David Rossi’s Office showed David had been underbilling for those services, costing taxpayers nearly $100,000 in the form of de facto subsidies to private businesses.
Sheriff David and the Beaver County Deputy Sheriffs Association appealed Judge Bozza’s ruling to the Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania, which subsequently denied the motion. “We conclude that the injunction is reasonably suited to abate the offending conduct and it does not adversely affect the public interest,” wrote Judge Jubelirer for the court. “Given the costs of overtime, workers’ compensation, and pension issues, a greater injury to County taxpayers would result from the refusal of the injunction.”
The Beaver County Deputy Sheriffs Association then took the case all the way to the Pennsylvania State Supreme Court, which denied the appeal yesterday without any further comment.
“This decision by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court to deny the appeal is a demonstration that our legal reasoning in this case was ultimately supported by the law,” said Assistant County Solicitor Bernie Rabik, who argued the case on behalf of the Board of Commissioners.
Attorney Bernie Rabik’s legal filings on behalf of the county marked the first time in Pennsylvania’s history that the statute prohibiting a Sheriff and his Deputies from performing private security services was brought before the appellate courts for review and interpretation. Although a final injunction has not yet been issued in the case, legal observers tell the Beaver Countian this case has now likely established a precedent that will significantly curtail the activities of all Sheriffs throughout Pennsylvania.
County Commissioners have alleged that Sheriff George David has continued to order his Deputies to perform security services for private corporations, in direct violation of the preliminary injunction issued against him by the court.
Sheriff David’s apparent violation of Judge Bozza’s order was first exposed by yet another investigative report published by the Beaver Countian back in October. Confidential sources within the Sheriff’s Office had provided this publication with a copy of internal departmental directives, revealing David had still been ordering security patrols for corporate properties owned by local real estate tycoon CJ Betters.
There is currently a petition pending before Senior Erie County Judge John Bozza to have Sheriff David found in contempt of court.
Note: In the interest of full disclosure, this reporter is a named victim in criminal charges filed against Sheriff George David by the Pennsylvania State Police.