April 5, 2007
Attorney General Corbett announces grand jury report of investigation into misconduct by officials in Haverford Township, Delaware County; Criminal charges filed against commissioner
HARRISBURG - Attorney General Tom Corbett today announced the findings of an extensive statewide grand jury investigation into allegations of misconduct by public officials in Haverford Township, Delaware County, including the filing of criminal charges against township commissioner Fred C. Moran by the Attorney General's Public Corruption Unit.
Corbett said the grand jury investigation began in November 2004 following a referral from the Delaware County District Attorney's office concerning possible violations of state law during the marketing and sale of the former Haverford State Hospital, located in Haverford Township. That 212 acre property was sold to the township by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania in September 2002 with the agreement that at least 120 acres of undeveloped open space would be reserved for public recreation.
The grand jury found that between September 2002 and November 2004 certain public officials in Haverford Township ignored their duty to keep the public and fellow elected officials informed about official actions concerning the state hospital property, intentionally operating in secret in order to further their own private political ambitions and insure that development of the site would remain closely within their control.
Corbett said the grand jury also found that other township officials who were aware of these secret activities chose to remain ignorant of the details or remain silent about the misconduct of their colleagues.
Additionally, the grand jury found that many of Pennsylvania's statutes intended to provide public information about governmental actions, such as the Sunshine Act, fail to adequately protect the public interest. The grand jury recommended significant strengthening and clarification of the Sunshine Act, along with more severe penalties, in order to discourage public officials from violating the law and disregarding the public's right to access and information.
"This case demonstrates the efforts that some public officials will make to advance their own private interests at the expense of the public's right to be informed," Corbett said. "It also clearly shows that Pennsylvania's Sunshine Act and other related laws are ill-equipped to combat this problem and are desperately in need of enhancement."
Corbett said the grand jury made the following conclusions about the conduct of members of the Haverford Township Board of Commissioners:
Corbett said the grand jury made the following recommendations concerning the Pennsylvania Sunshine Act and other regulations:
Corbett said that the detailed grand jury report concerning alleged misconduct by Haverford Township officials, along with recommendations for enhancements to the Sunshine Act and regulations for public officials, is available for review on the Attorney General's website. Additionally, copies of the report will be filed as public record with Court of Common Pleas in Dauphin and Delaware counties, and delivered to members of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives, the Pennsylvania Senate, the Haverford Township Board of Commissioners, the Secretary of the Commonwealth and the District Attorney of Delaware County.
Corbett said that in addition to recommending sweeping changes to Pennsylvania's public meeting laws, the grand jury also recommended the filing of criminal charges against Haverford Township Commissioner Fred C. Moran, 61, 2717 Prescott Road, Havertown.
Moran is charged with one count each of bribery in official and political matters, theft by deception and theft by unlawful taking, all third-degree felonies punishable by up to seven years in prison and a $15,000 fine. Additionally, Moran is charged with one count of obstructing the administration of law or other governmental functions, a second-degree misdemeanor punishable by up to two years in prison and a $5,000 fine.
Moran was preliminarily arraigned on Thursday, April 5, 2007, before Broomall Magisterial District Judge John P. Capuzzi and released on $10,000 unsecured bail. A preliminary hearing is scheduled for April 26, 2007, at 9 a.m., before Havertown Magisterial District Judge Elisa Lacianca.
The case will be prosecuted in Delaware County by Senior Deputy Attorney General E. Marc Costanzo of the Attorney General's Public Corruption Unit.
(A person charged with a crime is presumed innocent until proven guilty.)
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