Drug forfeiture monies are seized by prosecuting attorneys for the Commonwealth during drug arrests. They are “top secret” accounts to be used at the prosecuting attorney’s “discretion,” though with tight and very specific spending regulations in place to control the out of control spending habits by District Attorneys, and prohibit seizing money so they can have fat bank accounts to spend at their “discretion.”
Last I checked Kelly Callihan’s golf course dues do not contribute to Cambria County’s war on the drug epidemic.
How selfish, gallivanting and material these cavalier spending habits are? No private attorney who misspends money out of an escrow or IOLTA account will get this same benefit of the doubt. No. They will be promptly jailed, as I would argue that Kelly Callihan should be.
Follow the rules, or don’t play the game. If you want to spend public monies out of your office, you should face the consequences of misspending public monies. NEWS FLASH: Your country club dues or private attorney do not constitute an expense for the war on opioids, nor are they top secret protected spending expenses! Your club sandwich you spent government money does not fall under the authorized expenses. Far from it. You illegally spent money Ms. Callihan, and now, like a clever little fox, you are trying to cover it up. Sorry if Cambria County is no longer paying for your Tuesday morning ladies golf day tee times, but it’s time to answer to the law.
Your actions are criminal.
For example, Drug Forfeiture moneys MAY NOT be used to pay a private lawyer for the criminal defense of a sitting District Attorney. This past year, disgraced Centre County District Attorney Stacy Parks Miller, did just that. And she is in hot water for reasons of the same.
While Senator Mike Folmer rages on his legislative battle to tighten up the regulation, spending and seizure of drug forfeiture money; in small rural communities, these flagrant abuses by sitting prosecutors continue. The prosecutors profit, and it is the citizens who suffer.
There are some rules that Senator Mike Folmer has specifically protested. One in particular is that a prosecutor does not need a verdict or a plea of guilt or innocence to actually “seize” property or assets. The allegations are enough for the government to take your property.
The scene in Cambria County should be familiar to anyone in Centre County. It began innocently enough:
- John DeBartola, of Johnstown, requested in January 2017 information on wages and overtime paid to county employees and police officers through drug forfeiture funds overseen by the district attorney’s office since 2000, along with copies of prior audits of that account. CITATION
Cambria County District Attorney Kelli Callihan had little regard for regulations on how she is supposed to be spending her money out of the drug forfieture accounts:
- In April 2012, the office spent $850 on a staff dinner at Ebensburg Country Club, paid for out of its non-drug forfeiture account. Between December 2012 and December 2016, the DA’s office spent forfeiture money on at least five catered lunches for office staff. Each one cost at least $375. All of these charges were paid from the non-drug forfeiture account. CITATION
While Pennsylvania laws specifically designate the funds from Drug Forfieture monies to be spent to “help fund future drug and other criminal investigations as well as assist community-based drug and crime-fighting programs,” according to the state attorney general’s website. Cambria County District Attorney Kelly Callihan could care less about the rules.
She cares more about her country club dues and her catered lunches.
- “I’m not (going to) tell (Blair County District Attorney Rich Consiglio) or (Kelly Callihan) how to spend their money,” Shapiro said. “Obviously, there’s a state law that dictates and governs the way in which that money ought to be spent and the transparency that goes along with it,” Shapiro said. “I’ve been an advocate for reform in that process and the legislature just passed a commonsense reform bill and we are going to use the resources that we take from drug dealers to go after other drug dealers. “It’s important that when we take these resources, we put it back to use in the community and use it in a way that makes everyone in the community a bit safer.” CITATION
Yet despite Josh Shapiro articulating the laws and emphasizing transparency, no charges have been filed against the Cambria County District Attorney. And it seems her tee time costs, and lunch costs have been met with thousands of dollars of misspent monies.
Months ago, a watchdog journalist started digging around in the illegal spending of these government monies.
- A dispute over whether expenditures from Cambria County’s drug forfeiture account should be public will reach President Judge Norman Krumenacker III’s courtroom Wednesday – the latest chapter in a legal battle that started last year. CITATION
Law specifies further that the seven different accounts where Kelly Callihan stores these siezed money from not-yet-guilty citizens are to be audited on an annual basis by County Controller Ed Cernic, and by the Attorney General, Josh Shapiro.
Clearly neither of them have been filling their audit responsibilities. But what these entities are supposed to be looking for is the following:
- The funds enter the account through a court order and are to be used for investigation, prosecution and community-based prevention or treatment programs under the Controlled Substance Act, along with relocation of witnesses or confidential informants. CITATION
After a renegade journalist started digging around, Kelly Callihan started to get nervous, and appointed her own Special Counsel. Like Bruce Castor was to Centre County, Calvin J. Webb was to handle the RTK requests, and was also to be paid out of the drug forfeiture accounts (also illegal).
- In June, the Cambria County commissioners appointed attorney Calvin J. Webb II as special counsel for District Attorney Kelly Callihan’s office to handle recent right-to-know requests and subsequent appeals, with an expense cap of $10,000 previously allocated in the county’s budget. To date, the county has spent more than $16,000 on Webb’s handling of the case, according to information provided following a Tribune-Democrat right-to-know request. CITATION
Callihan, in a desperate attempt to save her own ass, provided to the media that:
- Callihan has said she provided all records that DeBartola requested except those that could endanger law enforcement officers or undercover informants, or negatively affect active investigations – which she said are confidential under the Controlled Substances Forfeiture Act. CITATION
Like Stacy Parks Miller, Callihan also posited the argument that the Cambria County District Attorney’s office was “immune” to open records request because they were a judicial agency. This argument was tossed out in a previous right to know war in Centre County, which also happened to involve the senile and notoriously lecherous Judge Krumenacker. He was overruled by the Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania in a sitting panel of five Justices.
- In August, Krumenacker granted Webb’s request to stay the case pending a final decision from the state Supreme Court about whether district attorneys’ offices should be considered judicial agencies exempt from the Office of Open Records’ jurisdiction for certain records – an issue debated recently in Bedford and Centre counties. In November, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruled that district attorney’s offices are not considered judicial agencies under Pennsylvania’s Right To Know Law. CITATION
After the commonwealth court ruling, where Judge Krumenacker was defeated in his ruling that District Attorneys offices in Pennsylvania are judicial agencies, the county actors in Cambria filed yet another silly appeal:
- DeBartola then filed civil action in January seeking judicial review of his right-to-know request for records about how $10,000 distributed by the Cambria County District Attorney’s Office in 2015 to then-county drug task force detective Kevin Price was spent. Price is now a district judge. That request was eventually partially denied, with the Cambria County District Attorney’s Office saying those records would include information about the days and times of drug buys, identification of confidential informants and undercover officers, which is exempt from public release. CITATION
Cambria County Law Enforcement, headed by the Cambria County District Attorney – Kelly Callihan – who operates the account – does not want you to see how she is spending drug forfieture moneys paying her country club dues or lavish catereed lunches.
She likely fears a criminal indictment for misspending of the funds. She gave this silly-sad excuse as to why she will not produce the bank statements itemizing her lavish and illegal spending habits:
- “It is impossible to separate or redact investigative material in an effort to account for the funds,” Lilly wrote. CITATION
An appeal will be necessary, because Krumenacker is the same Judge who previously wrongfully ruled that Pennsylvania DAs are “judicial agencies.” As the case is in front of him, Cambria County can expect yet another corrupt ruling by this senile pervert Judge, who prefers currying favors to female lawyers in front of him, rather than upholding the law:
- The case will again come in front of Krumenacker this week, when DeBartola says he will again stress that he does not want names of confidential informants involved in these records. CITATION
The County Commissioners seem to be ready to draw a line in the sand, and are getting ready for a ruling declaring “secrecy” by Judge Krumenacker:
- DeBartola brought up these points during April’s Cambria County Commissioners’ meeting, asking the commissioners and county Solicitor Bill Barbin why more than 100 pages were filed in support of their position with the case. Although he says “questioning government is how democracy works best,” Barbin said it’s important that the information DeBartola is requesting stay protected. “I will fight that as far as necessary,” he said. “This is about maintaining confidentiality for a vital police function in our community.” CITATION
The county commissioners in Cambria County believe this case has “huge ramifications,” for determining how drug forfeiture money is spent.
The laws on the Pennsylvania books are clear, and these monies should not have been spent on private counsel, on country club dues or extravagant lunches.
In any sphere of private practice, misspending of IOLTA funds or escrow money lands a lawyer disbarred or in jail….
So folks, my question to you, is what makes Kelly Callahan so special? Other than having country club dues she can’t seem to afford under her six plus figure salary in her elected seat?