District Attorney Petitions State Supreme Court to Intervene in Forgery Investigation
Centre County's district attorney has gone all the way to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, claiming that she's the target of a conspiracy and asking the high court to intervene.
Stacy Parks Miller claims the Bellefonte Police Department does not have the authority to investigate allegations that she forged a judge’s signature on a fake court order. She also claims that Centre County Commissioners and the county's solicitor are out to get her.
Parks Miller, through her attorney Bruce Castor, filed an "emergency petition" with the Supreme Court last week.
The petition asks the court to stop the Bellefonte police and Centre County Commissioners “from undertaking any investigation into allegations of forgery or theft of public services… and from making any arrests or filing any charges against [Parks Miller] regarding such offenses, as such maters involving a District Attorney are within the sole jurisdiction of the Office of the Attorney General for the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.”
A representative from the Supreme Court’s prothonotary office says that the parties mentioned in the petition – including the Centre County Commisioners, the Centre County Solicitor and the Bellefonte police – must respond to the petition by Thursday.
Parks Miller says she brought the forgery allegations to the Attorney General’s office long before they were made public, prompting an investigation. Representatives from the Attorney General’s office have repeatedly denied requests to confirm or deny whether that office is conducting an investigation.
The Bellefonte Police Department began its own investigation last month Parks Miller was accused of forging the signature of Centre County Judge Pamela Ruest. Those allegations came from two State College attorneys during a Centre County Commissioners meeting.
On Jan. 24, Bellefonte police searched Parks Miller’s office and seized a county-owned smartphone, tablet and computer.
Parks Miller claims the “so-called search warrant lacked probable cause” and was the basis of an illegal search. Parks Miller has also filed a petition with the Centre County Court of Common Pleas asking that the seized items be returned. The Centre County court has not yet scheduled a hearing on the issue.
Bellefonte Police Chief Shawn Weaver declined to comment on Parks Miller's claims.
In her Supreme Court petition, Parks Miller says that the source of the allegations – an affidavit signed by her former paralegal – “is completely and categorically false.” She goes on to argue that the actions of the commissioners, the attorneys and the police are motivated by a “cloud of personal agendas.”
According to the petition, Parks Miller has had extensive disagreements with Philip Masorti and Bernard Cantorna, the two lawyers who made the allegations public. Parks Miller also claims to have had professional disagreements with the commissioners – including investigations into reported violations of Pennsylvania’s Sunshine Act and a past criminal investigation that found Commissioner Chris Exarchos' son at the scene of a murder in 2012.
Alex Exarchos was a witness to a drug-related murder in 2012. He testified at trial that marijuana dealer Tyler Steven Marlatt stabbed another man over a dispute involving $25 worth of marijuana. Marlatt was convicted of murder and is currently serving a life sentence, while Exarchos was not charged with a crime.
All three commissioners declined comment, referring questions to their lawyer.
“Due to the nature of the pending litigation, I cannot comment other than to say that the Commissioners will address the matter in court,” says attorney John Abom, who serves as special counsel to the commissioners on this matter.
On Tuesday, during their weekly meeting, it appeared that the Centre County Commissioners were preparing for a possible court fight. The commissioners voted to appoint the Harrisburg-based law firm of Fetterhoff and Zilli to serve as special counsel to Centre County Solicitor Louis Glantz.
Glantz could not be reached for comment.
The allegedly forged court order at the center of this conflict is linked to a strange turn of events involving a pair of inmates at the Centre County Correctional Facility.
According to the police search warrant and Parks Miller’s petition, an inmate named Ryan Richard asked another inmate, Robert Albro, for help with the murder of an unnamed assistant district attorney in 2013. Albro and his attorney reportedly brought the request to the attention of police, who began an investigation into the reported murder plot with the help of the district attorney and the Pennsylvania Attorney General.
Albro was transferred to another correctional facility under a false name, to make it appear that he was released from jail. Parks Miller claims she asked Judge Ruest to sign a fake bail order in connection with Albro’s bail “to make it appear… that the informant would be in a position to assist in carrying out the murder of an assistant district attorney.” The affidavit from Parks Miller’s former paralegal alleges that it was Parks Miller herself, not Judge Ruest, who signed the fake order.
"While Judge Ruest apparently does not recall this single bail reduction order among the many orders she signs daily, especially after the passage of more than 16 months, Judge Ruest did in fact sign the order in question," Parks Miller claims in her petition.
Ruest has previously declined to comment.
According to court documents, Bellefonte police are also investigating allegations that Parks Miller used county resources to further her 2013 election campaign, which could constitute "theft of services" from the county if true.
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