Update: Judge rules Harrisburg corruption case will go to trial

Written by Emily Previti/Keystone Crossroads | Sep 15, 2015 4:31 AM

FILE PHOTO: Reporters flank former Harrisburg Mayor Stephen Reed after his arrest on bribery, theft and corruption charges. (Diana Robinson/WITF)

(Harrisburg) -- A judge has ruled the corruption case against former Harrisburg Mayor Stephen Reed will go to trial.

Reed faces corruption, bribery, theft and other charges for allegedly hoarding city-owned artifacts and bribing people to approve public borrowings that, ultimately, nearly bankrupted the municipality.

Originally, it was 499 counts, but reduced to 485 after the state Attorney General's Office tweaked its complaint at the start of Reed's preliminary hearing Monday.

Proceedings went all day, and will resume at 9:00 a.m. today.

For hours, evidence flashed on a projector screen, in an effort to show public money - specifically, the special projects fund maintained by the Harrisburg Authority - paid for thousands artifacts. They were meant for museums that never came to fruition.

Investigators clicked through confidential memos, bank statements, invoices, photos, contracts, endorsed checks and other documents as Special Agent Craig LeCadre described the flow of $5.5 million in excessive financial transaction fees through the city's schools and parking authority, and The Harrisburg Authority, to buy the objects.

(Reed's defense team says the same fund covered costs for other items that haven't resulted in charges).

LeCadre also testified to what he saw when raiding Reed's house and private storage space downtown last spring: rooms crammed full of objects, many waterlogged or in some other condition suggesting neglect.

And LeCadre detailed how he and his team matched objects seized from Reed to inventory lists of city property. About 30 items were detailed in court - the most expensive of 154 matched up by investigators, according to Deputy Attorney General Clarke Madden.

But Reed's defense team says there's more to it.

They claim any city property must have been put there accidentally by employees helping the mayor move out of City Hall at the end of his 28-year tenure.

But they say Reed bought most of the stuff with his own money directly or through other winning bidders at the city's auctions.

The sales were held in 2006 and 2013 after it became apparent plans for an American West museum and National Sports Hall of Fame had failed.

Reed's lawyer Henry Hockeimer started with a vampire hunting kit investigators say they found in Reed's home and matched to a description and photo in the city's lists of inventory based on purchase information.

But Hockeimer says documents also show the city sold the kit - or one much like it - at auction years after buying it.

LeCadre responded that he doesn't "know if vampires even exist." He also said he has documents from the auctioneering firms that handled the events.

But when asked again later by reporters, Madden wouldn't say, explicitly, whether investigators checked auction documents to eliminate the possibility that Reed got the objects through private sales.

"I look forward to arguing that question to a jury," Madden said. "But that's not a question-... as we discussed in the courtroom, that's not something that's at issue here today."

Madden objected multiple times to various points made by Hockeimer, pointing out they were suited for a trial, not the preliminary hearing during which the prosecution need only establish probable cause.

Judge Richard Cashman agreed with Madden, citing what he described as the "unfortunate" rules of preliminary hearings.

Cashman's from Columbia County. He's been dispatched to hear the case against Reed, who served as a state rep and Dauphin County Commissioner before being elected mayor of the state's capital city.

Cashman continued the preliminary hearing to this morning. On Monday, he stayed a motion to quash or suppress more than 300 of the counts pending against Reed filed last week by Hockameier.

Hockameir says statutes of limitation have expired for more than 300 of the charges.

The state's not yet responded, but Madden says it will.



Published in Harrisburg, News

Tagged under , , , , , , , , ,

back to top