As 2018 enters the history books, it’s time to reflect back over the past year. Here’s a look at just some of the work done by BeaverCountian.com in 2018 to help keep you informed.
State And Federal Investigations Into County Corruption
One of BeaverCountian.com’s first stories of 2018, published on January 5, revealed that state and federal authorities were conducting far-reaching investigations into allegations of public corruption in Beaver County.
While the article was originally met with skepticism by county officials and other news outlets, events throughout the year demonstrated the reliability of our sources and accuracy of our reporting.
Investigations by FBI, State Police, and the PA Attorney General’s Office remain ongoing; work by the Pennsylvania Statewide Investigating Grand Jury continues and 2019 could be the year the public finally starts seeing what results those efforts bring.
The Murder Of DelTondo
In the early morning hours of May 14, BeaverCountian.com became aware that one of its confidential sources, Rachael DelTondo, was murdered at the bottom of her parents’ driveway in Aliquippa.
Her story rapidly gained international attention, and BeaverCountian.com has since published dozens of investigative reports — nearly 50 articles in total — into Rachael’s death and other disturbing events taking place in her hometown of Aliquippa.
BeaverCountian.com’s reporting repeatedly exposed false or misleading statements made by District Attorney David Lozier to other news outlets in the region.
Along with its own efforts, BeaverCountian.com teamed with other news organizations, including The Daily Mail and CBS News out of New York City, to report on the ongoing investigation.
Now nearly 8 months later, Beaver County Detectives have still failed to arrest Rachael’s killer.
BeaverCountian.com continues its work with CBS News in the production of a primetime episode of 48 Hours exploring her murder.
Follow our ongoing coverage here:
Democratic Candidates For State Office Drop Out Of Their Races
An investigative report by BeaverCountian.com into petitions submitted by two Democratic candidates running for Pennsylvania state representative led to Alex Andres and Joe McGurk dropping out of their races.
Republican Party Officials Resign
An investigative report by BeaverCountian.com first exposed racist posts made to Facebook by an official in the Beaver County Republican Committee. Carla Maloney referred to African American athletes as “baboons,” suggested they should go back to Africa, and urged “white people” to “stop paying their salaries.”
Additional reporting by BeaverCountian.com showed Republican Party Chairman Chip Kohser had been aware of her posts.
The story made national news and both Maloney and Kohser resigned over the controversy.
Judges Remove Dedication To Former Court Administrator
Beaver County’s judges dedicated a portion of the courthouse to former Court Administrator Richard DeFilippi, whose tenure had been plagued by controversy.
As BeaverCountian.com continued its reporting by questioning county commissioners about the dedication during a public meeting, the judiciary quickly reversed course and removed a large brass memorial plaque they had installed on a wall outside of the juror’s lounge.
A Reader Takes Action
BeaverCountian.com had published dozens of investigative reports over the past several years about the county’s sale of the Friendship Ridge nursing home to a private corporation.
After District Attorney David Lozier announced his office would not be prosecuting any county official for any of the issues brought to light, a BeaverCountian.com reader began taking matters into his own hands.
The reader, who identified himself as previously being assigned to the Air Force Office of Special Investigations and the Defense Investigative Service, submitted multiple Open Records Requests to the county, eventually compiling his own 180-page dossier about the sale.
In March 2018, the man distributed his final report to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, U.S. Attorney’s Office, and the Pennsylvania Attorney General’s Office among others.
Beaver School District Superintendent Comes Out
The Beaver County Times published unsubstantiated claims by Beaver County Young Republicans President Luke Berardelli that the Beaver Area School District was retaliating against its high school principal because of his religious affiliations.
BeaverCountian.com began reporting to find out what was actually happening.
Our investigative work turned the story on its head, and showed the district’s superintendent may have been the real one facing discrimination by some in the district because of her sexual orientation.
Superintended Carry Rowe later came out as gay during a public meeting and Berardelli backed down from his claims. Principal Steven Wellendorf later resigned his position and issued a joint statement with the district acknowledging his suspension had nothing to do with religious affiliations.
State Gaming Commission Launches Investigation
Commissioners Tony Amadio and Dan Camp, along with Chief County Solicitor Garen Fedeles, signed non-disclosure agreements and then held secret meetings about the possibility of a casino coming to Beaver County.
Among those they met with included former county solicitor Joseph Askar, Askar’s father-in-law developer Pat Nardelli, former state representative and convict-cum-lobbyist Mike Veon, along with the executives from Mount Airy Casino.
The non-disclosure agreement wasn’t enough to stop BeaverCountian.com from learning about the meetings.
We published an investigative report first detailing the Commissioners’ activities, and also revealed the involvement of Louis DeNaples — a man who was specifically barred by the state from any casino business activities because of controversies involving alleged mob-links.
Mount Airy later announced its decision to construct a casino in Big Beaver, but the Pennsylvania State Gaming Commission also announced they were conducting a still-ongoing investigation into Louis DeNaples’ involvement.
Lies From Baden
BeaverCountian.com regularly works on behalf of the public to expose violations of the Pennsylvania Sunshine Act, a key law that guarantees transparency in official actions taken by governmental agencies.
When officials in Baden Borough began stalling the release of public records, BeaverCountian.com began publishing investigative reports based on information provided by its network of confidential sources.
Surveillance video eventually showed elected officials in Baden had been lying in their statements to the public.
Federal Lawsuits Settled
BeaverCountian.com provided in-depth coverage of two separate incidents that involved federal lawsuits alleging civil rights violations in Beaver County.
Former sheriff’s deputy Curtis Larrick settled his case against the county in August 2018 after being fired by Tony Guy when he came into office in January 2016.
James Cicco settled his federal lawsuit against Beaver Borough in January 2018 after dash cam video showed him being mauled by a police k-9 while he was secured in handcuffs in August 2016.
BeaverCountian.com published dozens of articles following each story over the span of more than two years.
– County Negotiates $85,000 Settlement With Former Deputy Who Alleged Political Retaliation By Sheriff Guy
– Court Filings Allege Sheriff Tony Guy Ignored Warnings By State Police About Deputies Who Supported His Election
The Political Marriage Of Commissioners Camp And Amadio
BeaverCountian.com had been reporting for months about Republican Commissioner Dan Camp and Democratic Commissioner Tony Amadio becoming political compadres; the public got to see it for themselves in February when the two voted to oust Republican Commissioner Sandie Egley as Chairman and to fire Financial Administrator Ricardo Luckow.
Egley had previously announced she would not be seeking reelection, and would be dedicating the remainder of her term to combating alleged public corruption in the county.
Since that time, Camp and Amadio have been voting in lockstep. Egley has repeatedly complained that the two have been plotting county business secretly behind her back instead of during public work sessions of the Board.