Wednesday, July 22, 2020

Sandusky's Lawyer Seeks To Depose Bad Actors In PSU Travesty

By Ralph Cipriano

An appeals lawyer for Jerry Sandusky has asked the state Superior Court to either dismiss the charges against his client, or grant him a new trial. 

And if the Superior Court won't go along with that request, Sandusky's lawyer seeks to have the case  remanded back to Centre County Common Pleas Court. Why? For the purposes of an evidentiary hearing that would feature the questioning under oath of many of the bad actors in this ongoing travesty of justice.

In a 46-page brief filed July 6th, but only disclosed yesterday, Philip D. Lauer, an Easton lawyer, argues that Sandusky is the victim of a corrupt "de facto joint investigation" conducted by both the state Attorney General's office, and former FBI Director Louis Freeh. The joint investigation was marked by collusion and illegal grand jury leaks that not only tainted the jury that convicted Sandusky, Lauer writes, but may have also tainted the trial judge.

Freeh, Lauer writes, was hired for $8.3 million to "perform an independent, full and complete investigation" of the sex abuse allegations against Sandusky, and the alleged failure of Penn State personnel "to report such sexual abuse to appropriate police and government authorities."

But in a secret 79-page diary, Lauer wrote, the co-leader of Freeh's investigation, former FBI Agent Kathleen McChesney, "summarized daily briefings and other highlights from the ongoing investigation, including contact with other agencies, including the office of Attorney General."

That diary, as well as other confidential emails, "indicated that there were substantial communications' between the Attorney General's office and Freeh's investigators, " Lauer wrote.

Those communications "establish that the Freeh Group and the Attorney General's office were assisting each other's investigations by sharing information."  The shared information included grand jury testimony that was "in direct violation of grand jury secrecy rules and would subject the participants in the Attorney General's office to sanctions," Lauer wrote.

During jury selection on June 6, 2012, Lauer wrote, Laura Pauley, a professor of mechanical engineering at Penn State who served as a juror in the Sandusky trial, was asked by Joseph Amendola, Sandusky's trial lawyer, what she had previously told Freeh's investigators.

"It was focused more on how the board of trustees interacts with the president," Pauley told Amendola, as well as "how faculty are interacting with the president and the board of trustees . . ."

But the interview went much farther than that. According to a summary of the April 19, 2011 interview with Freeh's investigators, Pauley stated that she believed that the leadership at Penn State just "kicks the issue down the road."

"The PSU culture can best be described as people who do not want to resolve issues and want to avoid confrontation," Pauley told Freeh's investigators, according to their summary of the interview. She also stated that Penn State President Graham Spanier was "very controlling," and that "she feels that [former Penn State Athletic Director Tim] Curley and [former Penn State vice president Gary] Schultz are responsible for the scandal."

"She stated that she senses Curley and Schultz treated it [the scandal] the 'Penn State' way and were just moving on and hoping it would fade away," the summary states.

When Pauley was questioned by Amendola at the Sandusky trial, "At no time during this colloquy, or any other time, did the prosecution disclose that it was working in collaboration with the Freeh Group, which interviewed this witness," Lauer wrote.

In an affidavit, Amendola said had he known the attorney general's office and Freeh's investigators were working in concert, he would have struck Pauley as a juror, for cause. He would have also questioned the other jurors about whether they had any interactions with Freeh's investigators. 

In his entire 47-year legal career, Amendola stated in his affidavit that he had never been involved "in any significant case that proceed to trial as quickly as this case. The case was "very complicated," Amendola wrote, featuring 10 separate sets of charges and eight alleged victims. 

In spite of that, Sandusky, who was indicted in November 2011, was convicted just seven months later, on June 22, 2012 thanks to the conductor on the Pennsylvania Railroad, the Honorable Judge John Cleland.

Amendola stated in his affidavit that he also felt pressured to waive a preliminary hearing in the case, where he would have had his only pretrial chance to question the prosecution witnesses against Sandusky. Amendola said if didn't agree to waive the preliminary hearing, the attorney general's office had made it clear that they were going to seek bail for Sandusky in the vicinity of $1 million. 

Having his client in jail, and not free to aid in his defense, would have been an additional hardship at a trial where he was overwhelmed, Amendola stated. Sandusky's trial lawyer made numerous attempts to postpone the trial, but all were turned down by Judge Cleland.

So, on Dec. 12, 2011, at a highly unusual meeting at the Hilton Garden Inn, Amendola met with Judge Cleland, a magisterial district judge, as well as deputy Attorney Generals Frank Fina and Joseph McGettigan.

In McChesney diary, she notes that Judge Cleland was "holding firm on trial date."

In his affidavit, Amendola states that he never talked to anybody at the Freeh Group about what the judge was up to with the trial date.

"An obvious question arises as to whether or not the trial judge was communicating with a member of the Freeh Group, attorneys for the Attorney General's office, or anyone else concerning the trial date," Lauer writes.

The suspects, Lauer wrote, may have included notorious leaker Frank Fina.

According to Lauer, evidence clearly shows that Fina and other agents of the attorney general's office "were leaking information and testimony from the grand jury on an ongoing basis, before and after the issuance of the presentment in this case."

Such grand jury leaks, Lauer writes, were "entrenched and flagrant in Pennsylvania," especially when Frank Fina was the prosecutor.

Leaks in Sandusky case "were part of a systematic design practiced with a casualness that should shock the conscience of this court, by individuals who later testified in PCRA proceedings in this case regarding their efforts to uncover the leak," Lauer writes. 

And of course in the corrupt Pennsylvania court systems, when Fina told a cockamamie story about how he and deputy Attorney General Jonelle Eshbach had supposedly set a trap for the real leakers, a judge bought it.

On Feb. 5, 2019, state Superior Court Judge Carolyn Nichols wrote a 70-page opinion denying Sandusky a new trial, an opinion that she foolishly staked on the credibility of Fina.

In her opinion, the gullible Judge Nichols also bought the argument that Fina couldn't have been the leaker because he had previously asked the grand jury judge to investigate those same leaks.

"It is a fact of human nature that one engaged in or aware of misconduct he does not wish to have exposed does not ask an outside source to investigate it," Judge Nichols opined. 

Since Judge Nichols wrote her opinion based on the credibility of Frank Fina, the state Supreme Court on Feb. 19th voted unanimously to suspend Fina's law license for a year and a day. The state's high court made that decision after Fina was found guilty by the court's disciplinary board for "reprehensible" and "inexcusable" misconduct in his grand jury questioning of former Penn State counsel Cynthia Baldwin.

The disciplinary board found that Fina was so out of control in his pursuit of the Penn State administrators that he actually browbeat Baldwin into becoming a grand jury witness who flipped and testified against her three clients -- former Penn State President Graham Spanier, former Penn State Vice President Gary Schultz, and former Penn State Athletic Director Tim Curley -- without telling her clients that behind closed doors she had thrown them to the wolves.

The disciplinary board also found that in order to get Baldwin, a former state Supreme Court justice, to breach the attorney-client privilege, Fina had to hoodwink the grand jury judge about what his real intentions were when he was questioning Baldwin behind closed doors. That's the same gullible grand jury judge -- the Hon. Barry Feudale -- whom Fina had previously asked to investigate the grand jury leaks.

For her part in this sorry mess, Baldwin yesterday had to endure a six-minute public scolding from the chair of the state Supreme Court's disciplinary board. According to The Philadelphia Inquirer, James Haggerty told a stone-faced Baldwin, "You failed in your responsibilities. You failed to recognize the magnitude of the challenges you faced."

"Despite the enormity of the situation, you failed to prepare yourself or your clients for the grand jury testimony in even the most basic manner."

How much more embarrassing can this get before the corrupt Pennsylvania court system grants Sandusky a new trial?

If there is an evidentiary hearing, Lauer is seeking to depose McChesney, Freeh, Fina, as well as the Honorable Judge Cleland. Imagine how much fun that would be.

1 comment

  1. It's harder and harder to have any faith in the law, especially in the Sandusky case. I'd love to see Freeh, Fina and the others testify under oath but doubt it will ever happen.

    Just yesterday it was reported that a federal judge lifted the sanction against Frank Fina in Delaware because Fina had not yet violated any ethics rules in DE, just in PA. That's laughably stupid. I guess Fina can ride out his year suspension in PA by practicing his brand of unethical law in DE or one of the other 48 states.

    Also laughable was the Wed. reprimand give to Cynthia Baldwin by the PA Supreme Court disciplinary board. How tragic for her that she had to listen to how she failed for a whole 6 minutes in a YouTube session. The Inquirer described it as "a bitter end to an ordeal that began almost a decade ago." She should have been disbarred.

    The Inquirer still seems firmly in the AG's pocket. It described how Baldwin's "frowning face" was visible during the YouTube session but illustrated the online article with a smiling photo of Baldwin.


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