In the News
January 31, 2019
A woman from Rostraver Township settled almost 70 blight citations for properties she owns in the Bentleyville area, coming away from a meeting with her attorneys and borough officials with her court costs and fines reduced more than $10,000.
According to her attorneys, Debra Maley Hardy has 90 days to bring her properties into compliance with local building and zoning code ordinances. She owns 11 properties in Bentleyville, as well as some in Ellsworth and Cokeburg.
Bentleyville’s police chief, Rich Young, hopes the situation has been remedied. Last week, he created wanted posters for Hardy as a way to entice her into court to handle the fines, some that dated to 2017. Young hung the posters in local businesses. The posters contained Hardy’s picture, along with the word “Wanted” and phone numbers for tipsters to call.
To resolve the cases, a settlement was reached in a closed-door meeting between District Judge Curtis Thompson, borough solicitors, and Hardy’s two attorneys, Sean Logue and Phil Melograne.
Court officials are not calling the meeting a hearing, because Hardy was found guilty in absentia of 69 counts when she did not show up to court when the cases were brought before the judge. Thompson signed a warrant for her arrest for each of the counts.
Washington County Judge John F. DiSalle suspended the warrants late on Friday. The petition asking for the suspension mistakenly termed the meeting scheduled for Wednesday as a hearing.
Under the terms of the settlement with the municipalities that had filed the citations, the warrants were withdrawn Wednesday, according to a court official.
Attorney Melograne insisted Hardy did not receive special treatment in her court case. He said that she neglected to appear in court previously on the citations because she was overwhelmed by the situation. Pittsburgh criminal defense attorney Sean Logue told Channel 11 news that one of the companies Hardy owns was issued the citations and that because the warrants were issued in the name of the company, A&F Real Estate, there was some confusion about whether Hardy should be picked up. Logue stressed the good relationship Hardy has with the Bentworth School District, including providing scholarships for students and public works projects the Hardy family has sponsored.
Bentleyville solicitor Dennis Makel said the borough will get $20,000 of the settlement, minus court costs. Court records show Hardy paid $2,500 to settle the citations in Cokeburg and $500 for the citations in Ellsworth. Originally, Hardy owed more than $40,000 in fines and court costs.
The citations were issued against seven buildings in Cokeburg, one in Bentleyville, and three in Ellsworth, according to court records. All of the buildings are vacant, according to Young. In Cokeburg, one apartment building has broken windows and is missing a door. One of the properties has a roof falling in, a chimney falling apart, and an unsound structure.
Young called the buildings unsafe. He is concerned about the buildings falling apart when area children are playing near it or when citizens are walking past it. Video played on a local news channel showed that the home in Bentleyville sits near the street, where falling debris could land on the sidewalk or even the roadway.
When police first approached her house to arrest her, a maid told them she was not there. They believed her to be hiding within the home. Her initial lack of response left officials believing she considered it to be a joke and that she was toying with them. They were not amused.
Hardy was once married to lumber magnate Joe Hardy, founder of Eighty Four Lumber and owner of Nemacolin Woodland Resort in Fayette County. Debra Hardy lives in a mansion with indoor and outdoor pools, six bedrooms, and a gated driveway at 1 Debbie Lane.
Judge Thompson told reporters that Ms. Hardy has newer blight citations that are under appeal. A hearing for the six citations will be held in 90 days. They come with $6,000 in fines.
Thompson says he is only looking for a resolution to the cases.
Sean Logue Sends Cease-and-Desist Letter to Candidate
October 17, 2018
An article in the Herald-Standard today discloses that Sean Logue, attorney for state Representative Matthew Dowling (R-Uniontown), who is running for re-election for a seat he has in the 51st District, has sent a cease-and-desist letter to one of Dowling’s opponents in next month’s elections.
It seems Tim Mahoney, who is a Democrat from South Union Township and is running against Dowling, sent out a mailer recently that contained a quote that was inaccurate.
Mahoney formerly held the seat for which he is running, and that is currently held by Dowling. Mahoney served in that position from 2007-2016, when he lost the seat to Dowling in that year’s election.
Logue told the Herald-Standard that one of Dowling’s supporters was given a copy of the aforementioned mailer, which was sent out by Mahoney’s campaign committee. The mailer had a cartoon image featured in it, which was of a sinking ship that represented the 51st District. Rain and money were falling from the sky, and there was an image of a life preserver with Dowling behind it. There is a direct quote beside Dowling that states, “The only thing I am worried about is my health benefits, $87,000/year salary and my $120,000 state funded expense account.”
Logue said the words were an uncited direct quote, adding that they were an absolute and complete lie. Logue denied that Dowling ever said anything at all like what is attributed to him in the mailer. “Rep. Dowling never once ever said anything remotely close to that,” Logue said.
When asked about the matter, Dowling accused Mahoney of putting words into Dowling’s mouth that he never said and for which Mahoney has no proof. Dowling stated that Mahoney’s actions are what’s wrong in politics nowadays. He also said the people in the district deserve better than Mahoney, who makes things up in an attempt to win.
Mahoney stated on Monday that he had not received the cease-and-desist letter. The letter was dated October 11. On Tuesday, he would not comment further.
An attorney for Mahoney’s re-election committee, Ron Brown, said he had been contacted and told the committee had received the letter. He added that the campaign is confident that they have facts to uphold what the mailer said. Brown then deferred more responses until he has a chance to examine Logue’s letter and the campaign mailer.
Logue said to the Herald-Standard that if Mahoney does not stop telling lies about Dowling, he will take action on behalf of his client, including a lawsuit for slander and libel. He added that no one from Mahoney’s campaign has responded to his letter and that Dowling and Logue want Mahoney to “man up and admit the mailer is a lie.”
Rep. Dowling added that he understands Mahoney’s desire to return to his congressional seat and “the taxpayer trough from which he took hundreds of thousands of dollars,” but that he should not lie to do it. Dowling added that Mahoney should be held accountable for the actions of his campaign committee.
Sean Logue Claims Signatures on Democratic Party Petition Were Forged
September 8, 2018
Attorney Sean Logue, who represents the Washington County Republican Party, stated in an interview that aired today on Pittsburgh’s Action News 4 channel that many of the signatures on a Democratic Party petition were forged.
Republican senator Camera Bartolotta is being challenged by Democrat James Craig. At issue is the seat in the 46th Senate district. The Democratic Party passed a petition around Beaver County in order to get Craig’s name added to the ballot for the upcoming November election. Attorney Logue contacted many of the people whose signatures appear on the petition; several of them deny signing it, so Logue hired a handwriting analyst to examine the petition. The expert indicated to Mr. Logue that hundreds of the signatures were written in the same handwriting. A candidate needs at least 500 to get his or her name on the ballot. Attorney Logue is asking the state to investigate the signatures.
Action News 4 also interviewed James Craig, who denies that any signatures were forged, calling it a political stunt. The Washington County Democratic Party has issued a statement saying they believe in their candidate, and are fully confident in him.
The Beaver County Times reports on September 12, 2018, that an attorney representing Craig’s former campaign manager, Kierran Young, insists his client did not forge any signatures on the petition. Attorney Chuck Pascal agrees with Craig that claims of forgery are a politically motivated attack.
Pascal’s statement comes on the heels of an announced investigation by Beaver County District Attorney David Lozier and Dauphin County District Attorney Fran Chardo into the authenticity of the signatures on the petition. If any of the signatures are found to be forged, criminal charges may be filed.
Many of the pages of the petitions that were circulated through Aliquippa appear to have been completed by the same person. The petitions collected addresses, printed names, signatures, and other information from residents.
Senator Bartolotta has gone door to door, asking voters about their signatures. She provided a list of names of people who, she says, have denied signing a petition. She has accused Craig of a lack of integrity.
While Mr. Craig has said he had enough signatures to get on the ballot, he refused to comment on specific pages, citing a need to complete an internal review of them. The pages in question were circulated by Kierran Young, Robin Young, and Justin Young. All three have the same Pittsburgh address. Craig stated he has not spoken to Kierran Young recently, and has denied knowing Robin Young and Justin Young.
James Craig’s personal attorney, Phil DiLucente, has stated that Craig denies wrongdoing on his part and knowledge of it on anyone else’s, and that he will cooperate with investigators and will help them get to the bottom of the issue. DiLucente says his client would not jeopardize his campaign by submitting forged signatures and will work to make sure his name and reputation are not scarred by the allegations.Read More
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.Read More...
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.Read More...