Deadlock over evidence, info as trial approaches for former Harrisburg mayor

Written by Emily Previti, Keystone Crossroads Reporter | Jan 4, 2017 12:54 PM

Photo by AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster

Harrisburg Mayor Stephen R. Reed in front of the National Civil War Museum in 2004.

{Harrisburg --} Attorneys on both sides are withholding from one another just a couple weeks out from former Harrisburg Mayor Stephen Reed's trial.

Reed, 67, wants to reclaim at least some of the 1,800 items - taxidermic objects, a vampire hunting kit, antique firearms  and more - seized from his home in June 2015 by the state Attorney General's Office, according to recent court filings.

But the state Attorney General's office says it's still "reviewing" the objects. And that Reed hasn't proven he's their owner.

"The office extended Reed the opportunity to provide us with information confirming that he is the owner of items in our possession. We have not received anything," spokesman Jeff Johnson wrote in emails Wednesday. "We're talking about artifacts and memorabilia that was believed to be of great value. Collectors in that arena do often keep such records to document authenticity and protect their investments."

Reed was arrested a month after the raid on nearly 500 corruption, racketeering, corruption, theft and other charges, more than 100 of them felony-grade. He now faces just 112 counts, one for each object investigators still believe the seven-term mayor took with him when exiting office.

If true, that would be illegal. Why? During over a decade of his tenure, Reed oversaw the acquisitions using public funds for planned museums that never opened.

But just 112 of the objects are tied to the remaining charges, and Reed wants the rest back, according to documents filed Dec. 30 by his lawyer Henry Hockeimer.

"The burden is on the state," Hockeimer says. "The defense is not required to prove that he didn't steal it.  And if an item wasn't charged, there is no continuing basis to hold onto it."

Hockeimer, meanwhile, has ignored requests for information including a witness list, according to a motion filed Dec. 28 by Deputy Attorney General Rebecca Frantz.

Hockeimer says there 's no link between Frantz's unanswered requests and Reed's unsuccessful attempts to get his stuff back from the AG's office.

State law doesn't require Hockeimer to provide the information, Johnson says, but Judge Kevin Hess could order him to do so. That's what Frantz is hoping for.

The changes remaining against Reed are mainly for theft, 25 of them felonies because they're linked to firearms.

Proceedings are slated to start Jan. 23, three months later than originally planned.

Editor's note: The story was updated to provide additional comment from Henry Hockeimer.

Published in Harrisburg, News

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