Two critical Harrisburg cases back in court

Written by Emily Previti, Keystone Crossroads Reporter | Jan 6, 2016 3:35 AM
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Photo by Emily Previt/witf

(Harrisburg) -- Lawyers for former Mayor Stephen Reed are hoping today's court appearance gets some charges against their client tossed and documents related to the case released.

Reed's facing more than 400 bribery, theft and corruption counts. In building his defense, his attorneys asked for public documents from the city of Harrisburg. The city resisted, and is appealing an Office of Open Public Records order to release them.

Current Mayor Eric Papenfuse was an early outspoken critic of Reed.

Both issues are before Judge Kevin Hess, who recently retired from his post as Cumberland County President Judge.

He was picked to avoid a conflict of interest. Berwick (Columbia County) District Magistrate Richard Cashman handled preliminary hearings last fall, for the same reason.

Since then, embattled state Attorney General Kathleen Kane's office has lost the lead investigator on the case to the private sector and endured the scandal over her perjury charges and law license revocation.

Reed served seven terms as Harrisburg mayor and one as a Dauphin County Commissioner. He satarted his political career at 25 years old with a term in the state House of Representatives.

The 66-year-old revealed he's fighting stage four cancer last year shortly after investigators raided his house. They spent an afternoon carrying out the artifacts Reed's accused of stealing. Thousands of objects were bought with public money to fill museums he wanted to use as a tourist attraction. That plan didn't come to fruition. Reed's defense team says their client didn't take the artifacts, but instead bought them directly at subsequent city auctions or through other successful bidders.

Reed's also accused of bribing city officials to borrow money and move some of it around to finance the artifact acquisitions.

The state Attorney General's Office says some of the transactions were among the financial decisions that ultimately exhausted city coffers and led to a receivership in Harrisburg.

No one else has been charged, although a vast network of government officials and contractors have been implicated through audit and new reports.

Published in Harrisburg, News

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