AFTERNOON UPDATE – YOU LOST – AGAIN!

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NO RECORDS FOR CASH!

     Part of a comment in today from Elaine Keno who attended today’s court hearing is below (thank you!). Please see the comments for her full report.

       If I were still a radio reporter, and had to do a liveshot at noon, my “lead” would be that “Lancaster County District Attorney Craig Stedman claims he has NO records for seizures of CASH from civil forfeiture procedures by his office, or records of how much cash has been collected over the years since he has overseen the CF fund, which monies must then be used to fund the county’ Drug Enforcement Task Force. Under cross-examination by counsel for LNP Media, which first sought the records thru a right-to-know request…and Lancaster County Commissioners, who later joined in the legal battle, Stedman appeared to agree that he could turn over everything sought in this legal action regarding records for tangible assets sold, for example, at auction. However, when asked about the different procedure necessitated by the handling of actual money, Stedman claimed the amounts seized would have to be identified by each individual police department in the county and that it would be, virtually impossible for him to reconstruct how – in his example – $50.00 seized by a municipal department was then re-spent (through his office) to, perhaps, be used in a “drug buy”. On a folo-up question, Stedman conceded that his office handles the civil forfeitures to have the local police agencies hand over their collection of illicit money to his office, so an accounting of how much money was collected could be gleaned from those court records. But pressed for an answer on an accounting of how much – and how – the, potentially millions of dollars in seizure money went OUT of his office, Stedman professed not to know, and that he doesn’t know because there is, essentially, no records of that. When asked if his office has a safe, Stedman said he ” didn’t know”, but that he “would hope so”.

Back in the day, I would have had a sound bite in there, but this was not a break. I left because I had heard enough.

Ron Harper was there and if you were, too, I’d love to hear other observers takes. It sounded like one of those old Hogan’s Heroes defenses to me.

FWIW, I have covered, literally, hundreds of these kinds of trials.

Elaine Keno
Miami
(ret. Broadcast Journalist)

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**   Please see the comments for a report from someone who attended today’s court hearing.

*    There is a hearing this morning at 10:00 am in Courtroom #2 of the Lancaster County Courthouse on DA Craig Stedman’s civil forfeiture records. The Judge’s order is below.

********

WHO DO THEY
THINK THEY ARE?

    

    Today’s LNP article (click here) and an excellent comment posted under it on Lancaster Online.

     The arrogance and stupidity of this city administration (and the prior) is simply astounding.
Please check back later today.

25 Responses to AFTERNOON UPDATE – YOU LOST – AGAIN!

  1. Anon says:

    Why did a poster say Stedman is running unopposed for judge? Did Greg Paulson drop out? If not, please correct the info – as that had to be a Stedman supporter who said that.

  2. Elaine Keno says:

    How do you know Det. Burkhart has a safe? Wouldn’t the d.a. know that?

    • Anonymous says:

      Stated in article. I would hope Stedman knew about Det Burkhart’s safe but then again this is Lancaster Co.

    • huh? says:

      Of course he would know that. Appears that the DA was at maximum prig status under oath.

  3. Elaine Keno says:

    I want to emphasize the caveat that my knowledge of this, particular, legal battle over public records is limited to what I have read in the media, like most everyone else; and reading the pleadings, press releases, email exchanges, etc. that were made available in the various print stories. Of course, I also have 25 years of full-time experience gathering and disseminating truthful information to the public. My impression – which I believe is correct – was that D.A. Stedman’s defense in not releasing specific records was twofold (it became twofold after the county joined the lawsuit).
    1) He is bound by state law (the legislature) and a clear reading of the applicable statute(s) NOT to divulge certain information to the public as to how civil forfeiture monies are collected and spent (a financial accounting) and; 2) the D.A’s Office does not answer to the County, (once they sought the records, as well) and the county has no authority to demand an accounting. (And for good measure, he answers to the A.G’s office, which has signed off on all of his required reporting, so that should be good enough for everyone else.) [Paraphrasing, here].
    What I heard in his testimony was alot of doubletalk and backtracking of his defenses to, now, include that certain records don’t exist because that’s not how it’s done. (Paraphrasing).
    In light of the county news release which states that both candidates for district attorney have stated they would/will release the records if and when elected, that renders moot Stedman’s previous defenses, and he has had to devise a new legal strategy. As objective as I can be, he lacked credibility in his testimony regarding his interpretation of the statute, and lent credibility to the county’s position that this legal battle, itself, is a huge waste of taxpayer money made necessary because of Stedman’s refusal to comply with the RTKL because he has something to hide.
    To, now, claim certain records don’t exist in an easily recreatable form capable of being reproduced for the public is a new set of facts.
    As the gatekeeper of the records in dispute, Mr. Stedman’s apparent shift of position not only calls into question his own credibility – but creates an insurmountable conflict if interest that demands he step down from his duly elected position of district attorney. (He only has 3-months left to his term and has, no doubt, spent much of his time on this case, anyway.)
    Otherwise, until this is resolved, the appearance of – and potential for – impropriety is huge – especially since he is running for a higher political office.
    My concern as a journalist is that the public does not find out the truth – wherever it may lead – until after the November election. That is, patently, unfair to the consituency.
    Theoretically, there is ample time to “cook the books” so that the truth never comes out if, in fact, that is the direction Mr. Stedman needs to take for his own protection. And I’m not saying it is. I am saying the appearance of a conflict of interest (italics needed) is present and – in an abundance of caution – so as not to erode public confidence in the judiciary and the judicial system, he should step aside. Otherwise, the perception becomes the reality, regardless of whether or not he was testifying truthfully. Again…that is my opinion (italics needed), and I only attended part of the hearing. For all I know, it was all tied up in a nice little bow by the end of the day, although I tend to doubt it.
    I have serious concerns about, a public official fighting so hard – at taxpayer expense – for, seemingly, so little. And so should everyone else.
    Elaine Keno

  4. Question?
    Who is the Co Treasurer?
    The same person that did not take out tax insurance?

    • Anonymous says:

      Also the same person that is state Sen Scott Martin’s wife. We all remember Sen Martin’s sister driving under the influence of heroin, getting in wreck, killing her family, wrecking life of truck driver and Stedman let her walk. How very convenient.

  5. Anonymous says:

    Hold the subpoenas! The only person in the da’s office that knows what is going on with drug forfeiture money is Det John Burkhart, the cash man. He digitally records what comes in, approves what goes out for operating expenses, and deposits leftover money with Co Treasurer in batches. Easy, what comes in minus expenses equals County take. Hopefully Det Burkhart has all corresponding records to account for every cent. Stedman blew this thing up into gargantuan problem of a almost a year duration for what?? Grandstanding in an election year? Personal vendetta against Carter Walker? Stedman will turn records over to reporter other than Carter Walker, sounds personal. SMH At least we now know Det Burkhart has a safe. Expensive, unnecessary clown show.

  6. huh? says:

    What a prig. Doesn’t know if there is a safe in his office. A bald faced lie.

    And a thief? Doesn’t have any record of where hundreds of thousands of dollars, if not millions, went?

  7. observer says:

    OMG, he said this stuff under oath. If this guy gets elected judge we are screwed. Again.

  8. Times up says:

    Lawsuit: Man ‘unlawfully’ charged in fatal crash to further candidate’s political career | WHP
    https://local21news.com/news/local/lawsuit-man-unlawfully-charged-in-fatal-crash-to-further-candidates-political-career

    Craig Stedman Let Scott Martin sister to get by with murder

  9. my goodness says:

    If Stedman’s absurd testimony is true or not, this man has absolutely no business even being on the ballot for Judgeship. He sounds like a total dolt. I guess we’ll find out if Stedman judge shopped when the opinion is rendered. It will be quite telling regarding Judge Brown.

  10. sure you don't, wink says:

    Stedman’s wife probably knows how much $$, where it went and most importantly, whether or not there is a safe in his office.

  11. Anonymous says:

    After hearing this load of crap I think someone needs to talk to Chris Larsen. and a few others at the da’s office.

  12. Anonymous says:

    Becky, did not recognize
    you at the hearing so if you were there, feel free to disregard.

    Otherwise, if interested, I attended from approx. 10:20 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. and these are my observations and take-aways:

    During direct examination (by his own attorney? I believe the Commonwealth is not representing him), questioning and answering was swift, to the point, deliberate and Stedman appeared confidant in his position, specifically referencing “the law”, “safety”, “compromising investigations”, etc. Out of context, it seemed to make sense.
    Under cross-examination, he was one of the most evasive, difficult witnessdes I have ever observed. It was painful to watch. It seemed to me (anyway) that as a lawyer (and someone on the proverbial hotseat), he appeared overly cautious about not saying anything that could later be construed as perjury. That is extremely difficult to do when one is also anticipating the next three questions your answer will inspire….
    It showed, and the judge noticed, too, because at one point when he was particularly exasperated, Stedman said, “I believe I answered the question already”!
    Judge Brown replied that he did not hear an answer.

    If I were still a radio reporter, and had to do a liveshot at noon, my “lead” would be that “Lancaster County District Attorney Craig Stedman claims he has NO records for seizures of CASH from civil forfeiture procedures by his office, or records of how much cash has been collected over the years since he has overseen the CF fund, which monies must then be used to fund the county’ Drug Enforcement Task Force. Under cross-examination by counsel for LNP Media, which first sought the records thru a right-to-know request…and Lancaster County Commissioners, who later joined in the legal battle, Stedman appeared to agree that he could turn over everything sought in this legal action regarding records for tangible assets sold, for example, at auction. However, when asked about the different procedure necessitated by the handling of actual money, Stedman claimed the amounts seized would have to be identified by each individual police department in the county and that it would be, virtually impossible for him to reconstruct how – in his example – $50.00 seized by a municipal department was then re-spent (through his office) to, perhaps, be used in a “drug buy”. On a folo-up question, Stedman conceded that his office handles the civil forfeitures to have the local police agencies hand over their collection of illicit money to his office, so an accounting of how much money was collected could be gleaned from those court records. But pressed for an answer on an accounting of how much – and how – the, potentially millions of dollars in seizure money went OUT of his office, Stedman professed not to know, and that he doesn’t know because there is, essentially, no records of that. When asked if his office has a safe, Stedman said he ” didn’t know”, but that he “would hope so”.
    ——————”’–

    Back in the day, I would have had a sound bite in there, but this was not a break. I left because I had heard enough.

    Ron Harper was there and if you were, too, I’d love to hear other observers takes. It sounded like one of those old Hogan’s Heroes defenses to me.

    FWIW, I have covered, literally, hundreds of these kinds of trials.

    Elaine Keno
    Miami
    (ret. Broadcast Journalist)

  13. Ellen Pee says:

    I take it Mayor Dickina couldn’t be found for a response?

  14. Anonymous says:

    The city admin. is getting more and more embarrassing. Their arrogance is unbelievable. How do they all sit together to make plans and budgets and absolutely no one can come up with anything better than what they have? All their brains joined together is scary. These admins also pride themselves and say things like “she went to college.” All the college courses and degrees cant help this bunch get it right with Maw. Culp is right.

    • Anonymous says:

      Agreed, every time I think they have reached a peak, they just keep demonstrating more and more incompetence. The city’s white collar leadership is embarrassing. What I don’t understand is why it seems no other residents seem to care, at least publicly. For the most part I just see insiders just doling out compliments to the city staff in what I can only assume are attempts to be appointed to various positions/boards.

      There has been so many egregious examples of mismanagement I can’t believe there isn’t a more vocal demand for accountability from residents. Hopefully I am wrong, but the next crop of council members appear to be more yes men/women for Danene.

  15. Anonymous says:

    LOL, Todd Culp should get a hero designation for this observation and an award for explaining the MAW debacle in language that, maybe, the city authorities will understand.

    Judge Brown, there should not be one cent coming in or going out of any county entity under the oversight of our county commissioners that they are not aware of.