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Centre County District Attorney Accused of Forging Judge's Signature

by on January 20, 2015 12:55 PM

Centre County District Attorney Stacy Parks Miller has been accused of forging a judge’s signature on a fake court order.

Centre County Commissioner Michael Pipe says he and other county officials first heard the allegations at the end of December, when they were made aware of a sworn affidavit from a former county employee.

The affidavit (obtained by StateCollege.com through a Right to Know request) is signed by Michelle Shutt, who identifies herself as a former paralegal to Parks Miller.

Shutt alleges that Parks Miller directed her to review old court orders signed by Judge Pamela Ruest and then write a fake order that would closely resemble existing documents. Shutt claims that she then witnessed Parks Miller sign the fake order before instructing her to file the alleged forgery in the Centre County Prothonotary’s Office.

Pipe says that after the Centre County Commissioners were made aware of the allegations, they began investigating the claims to determine an appropriate response. Pipe says they reached out the Pennsylvania Office of Disciplinary Counsel to make that office aware of the allegations.

Centre County Solicitor Louis Glantz and Pipe both say that the Office of Disciplinary Counsel has initiated an investigation of Parks Miller, but StateCollege.com was unable to confirm this with representatives from the state disciplinary organization.

In an prepared statement, Robert Tintner, an attorney representing Parks Miller, says the allegations "are completely and patently false."  According to Tintner, Parks Miller reported the "absurd" claims to law enforcement authorities when she became aware of the allegations. The statement says Parks Miller requested that the Pennsylvania Office of the Attorney General investigate the allegations, which is currently underway.

Representatives from the attorney general's office declined comment when asked to confirm the existence of this investigation.

"Ms. Miller remains confident that the matter will be thoroughly and properly investigated and that any purported accusations of wrongdoing against her will be quickly and completely dismissed," Parks Miller's statement reads.

Pipe says that the allegations were made public at Tuesday morning’s Centre County Commissioners meeting, when two State College attorneys brought the issue up during the public comment section.

Attorneys Bernard Cantorna and Andrew Shubin presented the allegations to the commissioners, along with a copy of the affidavit from Shutt. After debating the issue, Pipe says he and the other commissioners directed Glantz to petition the court to begin an independent investigation of Parks Miller.

Pipe says he’s not aware of any other time in the history of the county when a special investigation was needed, making this “uncharted waters for Centre County.” He says that Glantz will petition the court to appoint a special investigator – likely one from outside Centre County in order to avoid bias – who will attempt to verify whether Shutt’s allegations are true.

Pipe is unsure how long this process might take.

“From my perspective, I hope that the allegations are false,” Pipe says. “Because if they’re true, they call into question the reputation and validity of the Centre County criminal justice system.”

Pipe says that the truth will come out in the pending investigation. He says that if the allegations are true, then Parks Miller should resign “rather than holding our criminal justice system hostage.”

The law offices of Andrew Shubin and Sean McGraw issued a news release on Tuesday, explaining that they will represent Shutt as the investigation progresses. Shutt will not make public comment on the matter, but the news release states that Shutt plans to fully cooperate with the special investigator.

“If these allegations are true, we’re going to have to do a lot of work to do rebuild the trust in our system,” Pipe says.

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Michael Martin Garrett is a reporter and editor for StateCollege.com who covers local government, the courts, the arts and writes the Keeping the Faith column. He's a Penn State alumnus, a published poet and the bassist in a local indie rock band.
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