Defense attorney for Westmoreland County Sheriff asks appeal court to dismiss corruption case

By Terri Hill | February 23, 2019

An attorney representing Westmoreland County Sheriff Jonathan Held who is awaiting retrial on public corruption charges is asking that the case be dismissed.

According to a court document filed last week, defense attorney Ryan Tutera has filed an appeal to the Superior Court alleging that prosecutors failed to prove Held’s guilt during his three-day trial in December.

Held is facing a retrial on a felony charge of conflict of interest and a misdemeanor count of theft related to allegations that he directed sheriff’s department staffers to perform work on his re-election bid in 2015 while they were on duty for the county.

A mistrial was declared when jurors were unable to reach a unanimous verdict.

In addition to alleging that there was not enough evidence produced during the trial to find Held guilty, Tutera is also alleging that the trial judge failed to ask six jurors whether or not they voted to find Held guilty, after a male juror announced he had changed his vote from guilty to not guilty.

Instead of continuing to ask each juror what their vote was, the judge ordered the jury to resume deliberations.

Less than an hour later a mistrial was declared when it was determined that a unanimous verdict could not be reached.

Held’s retrial was scheduled to begin in April, but is expected to be delayed until the appeal is decided, which could take over a year.

Terri Hill can be contacted at terri.hill@grantstreetnews.com

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