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Court Documents Link Reported Jail House Murder Plot to District Attorney's Alleged Forgery

by on January 28, 2015 4:35 PM

Allegations that Centre County District Attorney Stacy Parks Miller forged a judge's signature on a fake court order have taken a bizarre new twist.

According to court documents, the alleged forgery is related to a murder plot hatched inside the Centre County Correctional Facility. An inmate reportedly wanted an unnamed assistant district attorney killed back in 2013.

An affidavit of probable cause from the Bellefonte police department, which was used to obtain a search warrant for Parks Miller's office, reconstructs the events that reportedly led up to the alleged forgery.

According to the affidavit, in the spring of 2013, inmate Ryan Richard asked another inmate, Robert Albro, for help in murdering an assistant district attorney.

At that time, Albro was facing prosecution by the Pennsylvania Attorney General's office. The affidavit states that Albro's attorney brought the reported murder plot to the attention of police in an attempt to negotiate a plea bargain.

According to the affidavit, the Centre County District Attorney's office and the Pennsylvania State Police began an investigation into Richard and the reported murder plot. During the investigation, Parks Miller reportedly decided that it would be necessary to create an illusion that Albro had been released from prison.

"On or about July 29, 2013, Albro was transferred from the Centre County Prison to the Clearfield County Prison where he was lodged under a fictitious name," the affidavit reads. "Parks Miller further decided that an order modifying bail would have to appear to the Prothonotary to be a genuine court order so that the Prothonotary would accept it as a genuine part of the court record."

According to the affidavit, Parks Miller directed her then-paralegal Michelle Shutt to prepare a fake court order lowering Albro's bail, which was to closely resemble existing orders from Centre County Judge Pamela Ruest.

In a separate affidavit signed by Shutt on Dec. 30, 2014, the former paralegal for Parks Miller claims that this order "was to be used to set up Ryan Richard, by using Defendant Robert Albro."

The Bellefonte police affidavit states that Judge Ruest had no knowledge of the Richard investigation, did not authorize Parks Miller to sign her name and did not intend to reduce Albro's bail. Ruest declined comment when contacted by StateCollege.com.

The police affidavit also mentions the existence of several emails concerning the Richard investigation. The emails were "sent and received from what appears to be" the office of Parks Miller, the Pennsylvania State Police and the Deputy Attorney General prosecuting Albro.

Shutt's affidavit includes copies of emails that purport to be between Parks Miller and Albro's attorney. In one email that Parks Miller reportedly sent, she refers to "the fake Albro bail Order appearing to set his bail to 10% of 100k." Deputy Attorney General Patrick Leonard is CC'd on the email.

In a statement from her lawyer released last week, Parks Miller accused Shutt of making false reports. Parks Miller claims she took the forgery allegations to the Pennsylvania Attorney General's office to investigate before the allegations became public. Representatives from the attorney general's office have repeatedly declined comment, and have declined to confirm or deny whether that office is conducting an investigation concerning the forgery allegations.

Bruce Castor, an attorney for Stacy Parks Miller, says the first step in understanding this series of events is recognizing that no forgery exists. Both he and Parks Miller claim that Judge Ruest signed her own name to the alleged forgery in question. Castor says the second step to understanding this story is to recognize the importance of undercover investigations within prisons and criminal circles.

"It was extremely reckless of the Bellefonte police department to put information like that in a public document, especially in light of the fact that there are procedures for sealing such documents," Castor says. "Bellefonte police put this informant at risk by disclosing confidential material that they could have easily asked a judge to seal."

Castor also maintains that the office of the Pennsylvania Attorney General, not Bellefonte police, has proper jurisdiction in this case. Centre County Solicitor Louis Glantz says that the Attorney General does not "exclusive jurisdiction," explaining that Bellefonte police can have "concurrent jurisdiction" because the alleged crimes occurred in the Borough of Bellefonte.

The Bellefonte police affidavit also mentions "theft of services" allegations, which stem from reports that Parks Miller used county resources to work on her 2013 election campaign.

According to the affidavit, "Parks Miller frequently directed Shutt and other staff members to perform tasks related to Parks Miller 2013 election campaign... Parks Miller directed Shutt to perform the tasks during county business hours."

Police seized a county-owned laptop, cell phone and iPad from Parks Miller's office over the weekend. On Monday, Parks Miller filed a petition with the Centre County Court of Common Please to have these items returned. No criminal charges have been filed against Parks Miller, and the investigation is ongoing. 

The forgery allegations were made public last week, when two State College lawyers brought Shutt's affidavit to a public Centre County Commissioners meeting. Since then, Bellefonte Police began their investigation and the commissioners have hired a law firm has special counsel for advice on how to properly handle the allegations.

 

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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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