What Fresh Hell Is This?

February 20, 2009

More On Chuck McCullough

There's more details from the P-G. In case you didn't know:

The Allegheny County councilman accused nearly two years ago of improperly making $40,000 in political contributions from an elderly widow's trust fund has been charged with 23 criminal counts, including theft, misapplication of property, criminal conspiracy and making false reports.

Charles P. McCullough, who was elected in 2007 after some of the allegations had come to light, was arrested yesterday and released on $20,000 straight bond.

And a word from his attorney:
"He feels very strongly that he is innocent of the charges, and we will fight them vigorously," [Mr. McCullough's attorney, Clifford] Levine said.
And let's remember that this is still America where an accused is innocent of the charges until proven guilty. But what are the charges?
The investigation involves Mr. McCullough's handling of the trust account of Mrs. Jordan, a 91-year-old widow in Upper St. Clair. The investigation began in April 2007, following the publication of a story in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette revealing that Mrs. Jordan had been the single largest donor to four local Republican candidates even though she hadn't voted in seven years.

Mrs. Jordan, who resides in nursing home, told the Post-Gazette in an interview that she never approved the $40,000 in donations. She attributed the checks to her attorney, Mr. McCullough, who had power of attorney over her financial affairs and represented her in her trust fund.

Officials say another $10,000 donation -- this one without Mr. McCullough's name on it -- was made to Catholic Charities at the last minute to ensure the organization met its fund-raising goals. Mr. McCullough's wife was the executive director of the charity at the time.
Well that doesn't look good either. You might ask yourself how did these two (McCullough and Jordan) meet?
Court papers accuse Mr. McCullough -- who met Mrs. Jordan in his capacity as solicitor for Upper St. Clair during a dispute with her over installing sidewalks in front of her home -- of inappropriately using a power of attorney dated Feb. 15, 2006. [Emphasis added]
Whah? Is that even ethical? How much time elapsed between the meeting and his becoming her Power of Attorney? Isn't that a conflict of interest of some sort?

Then there's this part. Considering that McCullough was the solicitor for Upper St. Clair, what can be made of this?
Five days after the article ran in the Post-Gazette, Mr. McCullough went to the Upper St. Clair police and filed a complaint against reporter Dennis Roddy, who wrote the initial story.

Upper St. Clair Police Chief Ronald J. Pardini testified to the grand jury that Mr. McCullough alleged that Mr. Roddy had agitated Mrs. Jordan, forcing her to hide in a bathroom, and requiring her caretaker to run and get help. Mr. McCullough also said that Mr. Roddy failed to identify himself as a reporter or sign in to the nursing home.

However, a police investigation determined those allegations were not true.

So despite all the allegations of financial impropriety, McCullough was looking to sick the cops on Dennis Roddy.

Over at the Trib there's basically the same story though this part is added:
Jordan has a history of giving conflicting directions and opinions, and several lawyers will testify to that at trial, defense attorney Clifford Levine said. Levine denounced the grand jury process and said an Orphans' Court review and audit of the Jordan estate should have concluded the case.
When I first looked at the piece on line this morning, I noticed what had to be the worst picture (ever) of McCullough's attorney, Clifford Levine, who I met a few times during the past presidential election. Then I took a closer look.

That's what it looks like as of 7am this morning. Look's like the Trib's made a boo-boo. I'm sure they'll correct it soon.


Ol' Froth said...

Hey, where's Mary Beth Buchanan? Oh, silly me, I forgot. She only gets involved if she can take down a Democrat of a guy selling bongs.

Ol' Froth said...

OR a guy selling bongs. Stupid fingers

Bram Reichbaum said...

The Dennis Roddy bit escaped me; thank you.

"Failed to identify himself as a reporter or sign in to the nursing home."


Anyway, it seems like the cognitive faculties of the widow are destined to become an issue -- and characterizations of the handling of that witness. This is going to get ugly before we see any justice. Bizarre to have gotten caught up in this. Why so long?

Zhann said...

Why do politicians always vehemently claim their innocence when all logic proves otherwise? Personally, I firmly believe that politicians should not simply be held accountable for their actions, but they should be prosecuted 10 fold. People that attain public office, even County Councilman, have been endowed with a degree of trust. If they take advantage of their situation, they should be punished more severely. Of course, this will never happen ... those who make the laws will never pass laws that may bite them later. However, from a humanistic perspective, it is only fair.

StandingBull said...

The cognitive faculties of the widow are the only issue --and she is dead. When the long line of lawyers who previously and unsuccessfully tried to help Ms. Jordon testify that her affairs were a mess and that she was next to impossible to work with (inconsistent, forgetful, etc.),this case will take an entirely different shape. But don't look for Roddy to report it...

By the way, from a legal perspective, why is McCullough's sister (regardless of her guilt or innocence) integral to any of this?