The evidence was stacked against State Trooper Patrick Finn. His former lawyer likely advised him that the wisest thing he could do for himself was take a plea deal. Purportedly the witnesses to his behavior around the 9 year old is going to be very damning testimony.
In many cases of police officers accused of crimes, they catch breaks. Afterall, the sitting District Attorney in most counties does not want to piss of law enforcement, prison guards or police officers. Law enforcement has the most interaction with both the community and the District Attorney’s office. They work cases together, they testify on the stand. They coordinate in investigations. And law enforcements are all through the community. They patrol the streets every day, they know the characters. So the unfortunate reality is that oftentimes law enforcement officers “catch breaks” when they are charged with serious crimes.
Most District Attorneys are politically motivated to maintain a positive working relationship with law enforcement in their county, else it is political suicide. Piss off prison guards in the prison union, or police officers in the fraternal order of police, and word will spread through the community like a plague. Law enforcement potentially can make or break a district attorney during an election season. If you are a district attorney and law enforcement turns against you, you better have a very strong and loyal voter base, because law enforcement is powerful enforcer, the literal x factor. They are the swing vote if you are elected seat is on the line.
This is likely the reason why Luzerne County District Attorney Stefanie Salavantis is not prosecuting this case personally. She is the youngest District Attorney to be elected into office in the history of Pennsylvania. And actually, she has done a pretty damn good job. I hear a lot of complaints from Luzerne County, but mostly they involve law enforcement or Judges. Stefanie Salavantis flies under the radar, she is fair, she stays out the press for the most part, she doesn’t own a facebook page, and she took over as District Attorney right after the Kids for Cash scandal. So immediately entering office, she had an entire county (Luzerne) of people who were pissed off and distrusting of the court system.
She has a strong support system in Luzerne County, and quietly does her job. She is known to be fair, liberal and ethical. I have heard zero complaints about this “rookie” of a district attorney.
Understandably, she likely doesn’t want to be the one to prosecute former State Trooper Patrick Finn of molesting a 9 year old girl. So she assigned an Assistant District Attorney. And I am actually understanding of this and think this is reasonable considering the political tight rope that many DAs walk. Behind the scenes Salavantis is likely instructing her face person to cut him no breaks because what the officer did was disgusting.
Finn had reached a plea deal after being charged with molesting a 9 year old, but it wasn’t a “sweet heart” plea deal offered by a District Attorney’s office who didn’t want to piss off the fraternal order of police, it was a regular plea deal. And clearly, this former state trooper had hoped his political influence and connectivity would have gotten him off on far less time in prison.
He initially accepted the plea deal. Purportedly the evidence and witness statements substantiating his inappropriate behavior towards a 9 year old girl were strong. His former attorney (who he has now fired), likely assessed all of this, and instructed him to take a plea deal.
Any law enforcement officer facing prison time is different from an average civillian prison time. They will be housed with inmates they arrested and assisted to put in jail. There will be a real and palpable threat to their lives. Most former police officers who go to prison are housed in what is called “protective custody.” Meaning, they sit in solitary confinement, because allowing them to interact with general population puts their life and physical safety on the line. The people they helped put in jail are pissed off, and happy to kill them. Add onto that, child molesters do not fair well in jail. Most child molesters are also held in protective custody, because they are attacked by other inmates due to the sick nature of their crimes.
So Finn, facing serious jail time, even through the plea bargain must be worried. He fired his lawyer who likely advised him just to take the plea, and hired another lawyer. With his new representation in tow, he opted out of the plea bargain and elected to go to trial.
Peter Paul Olszewski, Jr. is his new lawyer. Olszewski now advertises himself as a personal injury attorney, representing victims of negligence in civil suits with a focus on medical malpractice. But for those of you who follow legal politics in Pennsylvania, you might recall that Olszewski was a former District Attorney. As an individual who works in Plaintiff’s law myself, it’s almost a contradiction. Plaintiff’s lawyers are bleeding hearts, tend to be liberal, and tend to work on behalf of severely injured individuals or the deceased families of victims of negligence. Prosecutors also work on cases involving victims of crime, but the spectrum of clientele is different. Oftentimes victims in Plaintiff’s cases have criminal records themselves, the routine slip and falls, and fender benders tend to be the same people unemployed, at home, watching daytime television with those tacky “have you been injured? One call, that’s all.” In a legal search of Olszewski’s case work as a newly invented Prosecutor turned Plaintiff’s lawyer, he is a typical ambulance chaser. His settlements and serious trial work are low. His advertisement as a medical malpractice lawyer is overblown, because there is little record of him actually having any of these larger, more sophisticated, cases of complex litigation are zilch. Olszewski pursues slip and falls with soft tissue injuries at the dollar store and settles most of his cases. His glory days of being a top dog and trial attorney are over when he lost election.
Ambulance chasing lawyers of his type, with that large ego of being former elected District Attorney, and new to the field of Plaintiff’s law, are destined to failure. Plaintiff’s law is nothing like the criminal practice of law. Clearly Finn was seeking representation of a former DA of his county for his political connections with the Judges, clearly the inexperienced bull shit artist prosecutor turned starving Plaintiff’s lawyer was out for the money, and CLEARLY Finn wants to avoid jail. Plaintiff’s lawyers are a rare breed, and it takes years to become one. Olszewski is new to the business and a small time ambulance chaser. Sure he has litigation skills but they are likely very short to those of local competing Plaintiff’s lawyer. He should have pursued a career as a criminal justice lawyer, because his record in civil court is terrible.
Perhaps he knows some Judges though. Perhaps Finn took a second mortgage on his house and hired Olszewski in hopes to avoid jail time, thinking that maybe Olszewski’s status as former DA would allow him to work out some deals or favors with the presiding criminal Judge. Whatever the case, Finn backed out of his plea deal abruptly.
Last September after hiring Olszewski, who probably promised the world on a string for a fat payout that was much needed for his starving Plaintiff’s practice, entered his appearance. Finn backed out of his plea deal quite suddenly, and Olszewski filed a motion wherein Olszewski wrote that Finn “adamantly denies” any wrong doing. Quite 180 degree change of direction for the Finn who was ready to sign a plea bargain.
Olszewski also wanted a continuance and filed a motion asking for just that. He wanted to delay trial, likely so he could run up some billable hours and keep his law firm afloat. The continuance was granted, and that was reasonable enough. Continuances are often granted by Judges when new counsel his hired. The new lawyer needs time to review and prepare for the case and it’s only fair.
“Trooper Finn is innocent of all alleged criminal conduct and refuses to plead guilty to any criminal charge,” Olszewski wrote in requesting time to prepare for trial.
As soon as Finn backed out of his plea bargain, the Luzerne County ADA assigned to the case reinstated all charges. Clearly at the direction of Stefanie Salavantis. No break would be given just because this guy was law enforcement. Salvantis doesn’t work like that, though she has made sure her name is nowhere attached to this case, and has an ADA as front person.
The case is now set for trial starting April 16. During a motions hearing Thursday afternoon, Olszewski sought to exclude testimony by an examiner who checked the girl after the alleged assault, as well as any testimony suggesting that Finn is an alcoholic.
Michael Vough is the Judge, and he has yet to rule on the motions. I have no idea if he was around when Olszewski ws Luzerne County District Attorney or if Judge Vough and Olszewski regularly play golf together.
The case is disgusting and purportedly the evidence is overwhelming. Reports state that the 9 year old stated that Finn drank heavily around her, and even gave her rides while intoxicated. The girl further reported being fearful and being able to tell when Finn was drinking. One night in 2016, Finn – wasted on alcohol – crawled into bed with the girl and fondled her. He attempted to have intercourse with her, but she refused.
Witnesses and the rumor mill report that many people noticed Finn’s odd behavior while intoxicated around the girl. He was overly attentive. He was exhibiting “grooming” like behavior. He was inappropriately paying attention to her in a way that disturbed other people watching. The night he crawled into her bed he described what he wanted to do to her sexually and prohibited her from leaving, eventually passing out drunk in the middle of fondling her, the girl ran – half clothed – from the room in tears and found her mother. She reported having been touched on her breast and buttocks, tearfully relaying the story. Finn was passed out drunk, purportedly by the rumor mill with his jeans unzippered and a hard on.
The mother called the cops.
Finn remains on the payroll of the Pennsylvania State Troopers.
I wonder to myself…… Why would an innocent man ever take a plea deal? Except he was hoping to just get off with a really short sentence, and fearful of all the third party witness testimony of many people who observed his odd behavior around the 9 year old, which would come out during trial and expose him.
Olszewski, a failed DA, and subpar ambulance chaser with an over inflated ego now represents the cop. For someone who purportedly is a newly made over Plaintiff’s lawyer, that seems a little hypocritical. The money Finn paid him must have been pretty good. Seems to me Plaintiff’s lawyers represent the victims of negligence, and prosecutors represent victims of crimes, but Olszewski must be starving in private practice, because now he has turned to representing pedophiles.
Good gracious Luzerne County. Olszewski, how disgraceful! When the many witnesses get on the stand describing Finn’s inappropriate and drunken behavior, and hyper focus on this little girl, you’ll never get a legal referral again. My recommendation to you? Go back to being a criminal defense lawyer. You’re over your head in Plaintiff’s work, and the “typical” plaintiff that most PI injury professionals know very well, are not going to take to kindly to this disgusting mark on your reputation. Ambulance chasing is clearly not your forte, otherwise you would have valued your reputation in the community far more than you would have valued the absurd fee that you likely charged Finn to keep your struggling practice afloat. And med mal? Give me a break. I did a search on you, and I saw a single one in which you were co-counsel. You are about as qualified to work as a medical malpractice attorney as you are qualified to be an astronaut. It’s like an orthopedic surgeon one day waking up and deciding they want to be a cardiologist. I hope that money was good enough, because your reputation is going to take a hit. Forget the referrals coming in from other Plaintiff’s lawyers, you might as well go back to work for the government. I think federal criminal courts are hiring criminal prosecutors. Plaintiff’s lawyer? Please. Nobody in their right mind would take this case. I hope the money was that good, because with all the witness statements, this will be a guilty verdict. And when the jury comes out with the guilty verdict, there goes your reputation.
The trial starts on May 2, I will keep you guys posted.