Legislation agency sues Lancaster County over unpaid authorized payments stemming from 2019 spat with District Legal professional | PA Energy and Coverage

A Philadelphia legislation agency is suing Lancaster County for unpaid authorized charges stemming from a 2019 dispute between the county commissioners and former District Legal professional Craig Stedman.

Kleinbard LLC, which represented Stedman in a lawsuit that alleged the county’s high elected officers had been infringing on his authority, is asking the Lancaster County Court docket of Widespread Pleas to compel the county to pay $74,139.06 for its companies.

On the time, the commissioners stated the county wouldn’t authorize using taxpayer cash to pay for Stedman’s authorized illustration. However Stedman submitted an bill to the county for his authorized bills in December 2019, simply previous to the tip of his time period as prosecutor (he was elected that November as a county choose).

The lawsuit, filed on Oct. 7, says county officers “have failed, refused, and even blocked fee” of the bill submitted by Stedman “(w)ithout any authorized authority or justification.”

Kleibard’s go well with additionally argues that for the reason that agency was representing Stedman in his official capability as district lawyer, his successor, Heather Adams, was sure by the phrases of the settlement and may have sought the fee on Kleinbard’s behalf after she took workplace in January 2020.

Adams stated she wouldn’t touch upon ongoing litigation.

Commissioner Craig Lehman declined to touch upon the go well with, and Commissioner Ray D’Agostino stated solely that it was “disappointing.”

Commissioner Josh Parsons, who was an outspoken critic of Stedman’s management of the DA’s workplace, stated in a press release that the board was proper to battle for transparency over how cash seized by the Drug Process Pressure was getting used.

“Our place has been easy all alongside – residents have a proper to know the place authorities cash goes,” he stated. “It ought to be requested why now we have been attacked for merely wanting residents to know the place authorities cash was going? This Board of Commissioners will at all times proceed to face for good authorities, together with within the face of assaults.”

Parsons stated that the commissioners’ push for transparency was vindicated by Adams’ June 2020 announcement that $150,000 was lacking from the duty pressure’s coffers. She stated an inner theft was prone to blame and is at present awaiting the outcomes of an investigation being performed by the state Legal professional Normal’s workplace.

Requested Thursday if the commissioners would pay Kleinbard, County Solicitor Jackie Pfursich stated she couldn’t touch upon lively litigation. In September, when Kleinbard took an preliminary step towards submitting go well with, Pfursich stated “the (commissioners’) place on the matter has not modified.”

Kleinbard lawyer Mark Seiberling didn’t return a name searching for remark Thursday, however in January 2020 he stated that if the county didn’t pay, the agency “may have no alternative however to file a lawsuit in opposition to them to compel them.”

Background

In February 2019, LNP|LancasterOnline started reporting on personnel points within the district lawyer’s workplace beneath Stedman. The newspaper reported that Stedman had suspended a prosecutor in his workplace, who on the time was campaigning for district lawyer, in what was described to LNP as a politically motivated motion. The county’s human sources division later reviewed the matter and decided the prosecutor’s suspension was “associated to political marketing campaign actions.”

In early March 2019, LNP additionally reported that Stedman used over $20,000 in Drug Process Pressure cash to lease a sport utility automobile for himself exterior of the county’s regular procurement course of. Stedman additionally reimbursed himself for miles pushed within the automobile, which was government-owned, although he paid among the reimbursement again after he was notified that LNP requested data in regards to the automobile.

In response to LNP’s reporting, the county commissioners issued statements essential of Stedman’s actions. The county human sources division additionally issued suggestions on how the personnel points within the DA’s workplace ought to have been dealt with.

Following the commissioners’ statements, Stedman employed Kleinbard and sued in Commonwealth Court docket, claiming the commissioners had been interfering along with his constitutional authority to independently run his workplace and in addition that they had been making an attempt to improperly audit his use of drug forfeiture funds.

The commissioners claimed they had been merely exercising their First Modification rights to touch upon Stedman’s actions and had taken no steps to dam his use of the drug forfeiture funds. In addition they stated that they had not authoritatively directed him on easy methods to deal with the personnel points.

The case was finally thrown out of Commonwealth Court docket as a result of the judges dominated it was an improper venue for the matter. Stedman, now a choose on the Court docket of Widespread Pleas, refiled within the Lancaster County Court docket of Widespread Pleas in December 2019, shortly earlier than taking his seat on the bench. His successor, District Legal professional Heather Adams, ended the case when she took workplace in January 2020.

The commissioners permitted using taxpayer funds to cowl the $100,000 value of their very own exterior illustration within the case.

The Legal professional Normal’s workplace stated it had no replace on its investigation into the lacking $150,000 in job pressure cash.

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