Former Allegheny County councilman Chuck McCullough, sentenced to 2-1/2 to five years in prison, said in motions filed Monday that his punishment is “manifestly excessive” and “vindictive.”Ok, so that's from the P-G late last year but it's still being played out this year.
In a 30-page post-sentence motion, defense attorney Adam Cogan raised several issues, including that the evidence against his client was insufficient; that McCullough had no conscious intention to steal from his victim, as required to prove theft; that he was denied due process; and that there was an abuse of the justice system in how his request to remove the judge on the case was handled.
In addition, Mr. Cogan asks that his client be permitted to remain free on bond pending the outcome of his appeal. Right now, McCullough is slated to appear in court Jan. 22 and presumably will be taken into custody that day. Common Pleas Judge David R. Cashman, who sentenced McCullough on Dec. 17, permitted him to remain free until then.
From The Trib:
McCullough's post-trial motions seek to vacate the sentence and obtain a new trial based on his attorneys' earlier allegations against trial judge Lester Nauhaus, including that he had improper communications with McCullough's former lawyer to urge him to waive a jury trial. Cogan said the court mishandled an evidentiary hearing over those allegations, in part by not making Nauhaus testify.But here's the interesting part of this story, also from The Trib:
Nauhaus refused to recuse himself from the sentencing, but, saying he was ill, he had the Dec. 17 sentencing hearing transferred to Judge David Cashman. Since Nauhaus was still in the courthouse — even in Cashman's chambers — that morning, he was free to influence the sentence, and its transfer to Cashman couldn't wipe away the questions McCullough had been trying to raise about Nauhaus' recusal, Cogan wrote.
The court will have until Jan. 22 to consider the post-conviction motions and any response prosecutors file. McCullough remains free on bond until then; if none of his motions or appeals are granted, he will have to report to prison.
Sentenced to prison for stealing money from an elderly client's estate, Chuck McCullough still holds his law license.I realize that attorneys are, by nature, obsessed with precedent and procedure and so I expect that there has to be a meeting of a disciplinary board somewhere with oaths to be taken and paper work to be filled out and objections to be made but this seems to be a done deal. If an attorney is convicted of stealing from a client, shouldn't it be, I dunno, automatic that that attorney looses his or her law license as punishment?
The Pennsylvania Disciplinary Board will decide how and when the state Supreme Court should punish the former Allegheny County councilman, whose penalties could range from censure to disbarment.
And it could be a rough road to return to practicing law if McCullough, of Upper St. Clair, loses his license and wants it reinstated upon completion of his 2 1⁄2- to 5-year prison term, experts said.
If only to maintain the integrity of the system.
But what do I know? I only know it took longer to get Chuck into a courtroom than it took Nixon to go from election-winner in '68 to resignation-loser in '74.
ANOTHER UPDATE: Oops, I forgot today was the day. KDKA is reporting that there was a preliminary hearing this morning on some more charges Chuck faces. On top of everything else, Chuck will now stand trial for perjury.
AND YET ANOTHER ONE: The P-G has a summary of all Chuck's new charges and how they came about.