Corruption trial for Westmoreland County Sheriff Jonathan Held ends in mistrial after juror changes his mind

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By Amanda Klein | December 7, 2018

After a male juror apparently had a change of heart the corruption trial of Westmoreland County Sheriff Jonathan Held ended in a mistrial Friday.

Initially, the jury announced that they had found Held guilty on two charges, Common Pleas Court Judge Timothy Creany polled the jury — by asking them individually if they had  voted for a guilty verdict, the first five jurors told Judge Creany that they found Held guilty, but juror six responded “Not Really.”

The jury was ordered back to the jury room to continue deliberating, but Judge Creany told juror number six that while he should consider the opinions of other jurors, he was “not to surrender a strong conviction.”

About 50 minutes later Judge Creany declared a mistrial after hearing that the lone juror would not be voting guilty.

Held, 44, allegedly directed on-duty deputies to collect political contributions for his 2015 re-election bid, and used county equipment for political purposes, according to court documents. He also directed several of his employees to solicit donations, prosecutors alleged.

One of the theft charges was dismissed Thursday after Judge Creany ruled that prosecutors failed to provide sufficient evidence of Held’s guilt during the four-day trial.

The prosecution presented over 15 witnesses consisting mainly of former and current sheriff’s department workers who told jurors they were ordered by Held to work on his campaign and solicit donations.

Labeling the allegations as a witch hunt, Held’s attorney Ryan Tutera told jurors that the testimony came from disgruntled employees.

A date for Held’s second trial has not been scheduled.

Amanda Klein can be contacted at amanda.klein@grantstreetnews.com

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