In the News

WPXI: Saccone campaign examines options; Lamb confident in victory

3/14/18—GOP officials are looking at the 18th Congressional District’s March 13th special election, to see if there are voting irregularities. By just a few hundred votes, Democrat Conor Lamb came out the victor.

As of the next day, both candidates had 50 percent of the vote. Fewer than 700 votes put Lamb ahead of Republican Rick Saccone.

Though the Republican Party had not released information about it, Saccone’s attorney, Sean Logue, confirmed that the party was examining election data with the goal of an election challenge. This would include hiring an outside, independent company to investigate the election.

Logue stated that he was told some people were not allowed to vote, and that the voting machines did not have paper balloting as a backup. He also said that he was told that in some areas, people tried to vote for Saccone, but it flipped to Lamb.

Logue went on to say that the Saccone campaign was exploring all its options, including challenging the results in court. He said they were looking at Upper St. Clair closely, because it generally votes Republican.

According to an Allegheny County spokeswoman, no reports of calibration problems were reported, including those for machines flipping votes. She also said Republican Party observers were allowed to watch workers count ballots.

Lamb stated in an interview that he wasn’t surprised that Republicans were thinking about challenging the results of the election, and that he is confident in the election process.

Lamb’s win has been called remarkable. The 18th District has long been a Republican-held one, and President Donald Trump won it by 20 points just over a year ago. Lamb will be taking over a seat vacated by Republican Tim Murphy, an 8-term congressman who resigned last October because of a sex scandal.

Elections director Mark Wolosik said that on Friday, March 16th the county would begin reviewing the election process. This process was expected to take several days to complete. The validity of provisional and absentee ballots would be closely examined, and voter rolls in all 253 precincts would be reviewed.

Once that process is over, there is a five-day window for people to file court challenges.

Unofficially as of March 14th, in Washington County, there were 547 absentee ballots for Saccone and 609 for Lamb. Some 14 outstanding military ballots and 90 provisional ballots were due by March 20 th.

The race drew national attention. Some see it as a referendum on President Trump. Saccone tied himself closely to Trump all through the campaign.

On March 21st, Saccone officially conceded the race.

The Supreme Court of Pennsylvania had recently redistricted the state after finding it had been gerrymandered. The 18th District will be no more in a few months.

Lamb and Saccone are both running again later in the year, but will not face each other. Saccone is running for the new 14th District in rural southwestern Pennsylvania, and Lamb is running for re-election in what is to become the 17th District, in the western suburbs of Pittsburgh. He will be running against Republican Keith Rothfus.

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Observer-Reporter: Washington man sentenced in Addison Street homicide

May 2016—A young man from Washington was sentenced to more than six weeks in prison for killing his girlfriend’s stepfather in 2015.

Jerald Thompson, who was 19 at the time, was sentenced by Washington County Judge Gary Gilman to 6 to 12 years on a conviction for third-degree homicide.

Thompson was also sentenced to one to two months for each of two reckless endangerment charges, which are being served consecutively with the homicide sentence.

On February 6, 2015, Thompson shot and killed 42-year-old Jerred Price with a rifle, from a second-story window of his house.

Two of Price’s family members made statements at the sentencing hearing. His sister, CharLee Williams, and his sister-in-law, Janet Price, both described the grief Thompson caused by his actions.

Janet Price stated that she didn’t want to see Thompson in prison the rest of his life. She hopes that someday he can have a positive impact on a young man’s life, either his son’s or some other young man’s.

Williams said she feels sorry for Thompson, but that she wants him to go to prison long enough to learn from his punishment. She wants him to realize and understand what he has done to two families—hers and his own.

Before he was sentenced, Thompson gave a brief statement in which he expressed remorse and admitted he made a terrible choice.

Thompson’s girlfriend had testified during a preliminary hearing the year before. She and Thompson were not fighting the day of the shooting, but she and Thompson’s mother had words when Thompson got up to care for their then-7-month-old son, and she did not. Thompson’s mother called Logan Price a lazy mother, but Price said she had pain in her side.

After having words with Thompson’s mother, Logan Price decided to leave. She texted her mother, who brought her stepfather, Jerred Price, to pick up mother and baby. Logan Price came out of the house crying, and all three went to the house to get the baby.

When Logan Price and her mother saw Thompson with the rifle, they turned around and went back to the car. They heard the gunshots after getting in it. Jerred Price was in front of the house when he was shot. Bullets pierced his upper back and his head.

In November 2015, Thompson pled guilty in an “open plea.” An open plea is one where neither party suggested a punishment. At that time, Judge Gilman ordered a pre-sentence investigation by the Adult Probation Office.

Gilman stated that Thompson showed “some element of intent” by shooting the rifle two times. Gilman said that at the same time, he weighed the testimony of an expert psychiatrist who said that child abuse Thompson suffered in the past had played a part in the shooting.

After the shooting, Thompson had told police that he had been protecting his child, himself, and his property.

Attorney Sean Logue represented Thompson in the case. Logue cited the psychiatrist’s opinion when speaking to reporters, and said that the way his client had “gone overboard” in protecting his rights and property was tied to the way he had been treated as a child. After the sentencing hearing, Logue said he respected the way the judge had taken the abuse into consideration when deciding on the sentence.

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WTAE-4: Contractor faces mounting allegations for taking money, not finishing projects

Contractor Christian Sheasley tried to hide his face when he walked into court last November, where he went before Magistrate Tom Swan. Multiple people have accused him of taking their money and never completing the remodeling jobs he was hired for.

One man, Stanley Jenereski of Gibsonia, told a reporter for Pittsburgh’s Action News 4 that he paid Sheasley over $27,000 for a kitchen remodel. Jenereski states that cabinets were installed, but not handles, hardware, countertops, sink, or faucet.

Mr. Jenereski told the reporter that a subcontractor told him that Sheasley wasn’t going to complete the job, because he had filed Chapter 7 bankruptcy.

Jenereski filed a civil suit against the contractor, but Sheasley’s lawyer, attorney Sean Logue, filed a motion to stop it and any other civil action. The motion was filed because Sheasley filed Chapter 7 bankruptcy on October 5th.

Mr. Logue assured the reporter from WTAE that Sheasley feels bad and wants to make amends, but that bankruptcy is his only way to do that right now.

Jenereski feels that it’s the consumers who get burned in cases like this. He would like to see the Pennsylvania Consumer Protection Act changed. He wants the initial down payment of one-third of the remodel cost to go into an escrow account requiring both contractor and property owner to sign off for the money to be used.

Mr. Jenereski fears he’ll never see his money again, because of the Chapter 7 bankruptcy filing. He may pursue criminal charges, since his civil suit was stopped. Sheasley has already been charged at the felony level for similar things in Pine Township, Hampton Township, and Mt. Lebanon.

In January 2018, additional charges were filed against Sheasley in Penn Township. Police there say he took money from two families. Sheasley was supposed to have turned himself in on these new charges, but as of 6:09 pm on January 22nd, he had not. Again in February of this year, Sheasley was charged with a fourth home improvement fraud case. This time, he was accused of taking $16,680 from a woman for new quartz countertops, and kitchen cabinets and doors, materials only. After promising the woman that everything would be ready by April 2017, he came to her in March to tell her he had put her order on hold because of a “family medical issue.” She was never able to contact him after that, and in November, visited his place of business and found that it had closed.

The remaining plaintiffs have similar stories, some including contracts that did not contain start dates, Sheasley’s Home Improvement Contractor Registration Number, or a three-day right of rescission. The contracts also failed to separate the amount of the deposits that were intended for materials purchases.

Sheasley is facing seven criminal charges in all. The plaintiffs’ claims total more than $74,000. They are also seeking compensatory damages, punitive damages, treble damages, attorney’s fees and costs, and any additional relief the court feels is right and fair.

Attorney Logue has declined to make any comments about the criminal charges Sheasley faces.

Sheasley is the former owner of Linx Creative Kitchens on Route 8 in Butler.

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TRIB Live - 5 held for court in beating at Harrison gas station

Charges were held for court Monday against five suspects accused of luring a 23-year-old man to a Harrison gas station Feb. 27 and then severely beating him.

The five suspects include two men and three women, one of whom was the victim's ex-girlfriend. They all face aggravated assault, conspiracy and related charges.

The suspects are:

  • Stephen Morgan, 26, of 524 Pennsylvania Ave., Oakmont and 914 Brackenridge Ave., Brackenridge;
  • Jonathon Meigs, 23, of 465 Terrace Drive, Harmar;
  • Stevie Fassinger, 24, and her cousin, Miranda Mullen, 22, both of 106 Garfield St., Harrison;
  • Sarah Fisher, 22, of the same Brackenridge address as Morgan.

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Pittsburgh Post-Gazette - Another shift in ever-changing race for Washington County commissioner

The race for Washington County commissioner has shifted yet again today, even as one of the candidates sought a court injunction today to delay the counting of absentee votes.

Democratic incumbent commissioner Harlan Shober, 70, of Chartiers, is battling with Republican newcomer Mike McCormick, 66, of Peters, for the final open seat on the board of commissioners. Voters choose between two candidates from each party and the top three vote-getters win.

Incumbents Larry Maggi, a Democrat, and Republican Diana Irey Vaughan both won reelection Tuesday, but the count between Mr. Shober and Mr. McCormick shifted several times, leaving the race too close to call. Tuesday night, Mr. McCormick was ahead by 66 votes.

But after the county Elections Office today counted 815 absentee ballots, Mr. Shober took the lead by 36 votes. He is seeking a second four-year term.

Earlier today, Sean Logue, a lawyer for Mr. McCormick, petitioned county President Judge Katherine Emery to delay the count.

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Observer Reporter - Implications of SCOTUS decision far-reaching in Pennsylvania

A new U.S. Supreme Court decision requires law enforcement to get a warrant to take blood from someone suspected of driving under the influence who doesn’t agree to the test.

The ruling, which bars police in Pennsylvania from threatening drivers with harsher penalties if they refuse a blood test, raises practical and legal considerations for law enforcement agencies and poses questions about existing cases in which defendants refused a blood test or consented while they faced the specter of more serious charges.

A Washington County prosecutor said the district attorney’s office is advising the county’s local agencies about what the ruling means for DUI investigations.

“We’re trying to make sure police departments follow what the Supreme Court has decided, to the best of our understanding of how it applies to our law in Pennsylvania,” said Assistant District Attorney Jerry Moschetta.

A fraction of the 60 to 70 new DUI cases in Washington County courts each month involve blood tests, he said.

The ruling has drawn attention from defense lawyers across the state, said Sean Logue, a Carnegie attorney whose practice includes DUI cases.

“Until the (state) Supreme Court and the Superior Court give us guidance, you’re going to see motions to suppress, motions to dismiss” in cases involving blood tests, he said.

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