Criminal Prosecutions Section

  • The Criminal Prosecutions Section investigates and prosecutes a complete spectrum of crimes ranging from the simplest of misdemeanors, to complex corrupt organizations and conspiracies, to first degree murder cases wherein the death penalty is sought and sentenced.  

    A Public Corruption Unit and a Tax Crimes Unit are a part of this Section. 
    The Section is staffed with attorneys, agents and support staff located in offices in Harrisburg, Pittsburgh, Norristown and Wilkes-Barre. 
    The jurisdiction of the Attorney General to investigate and prosecute criminal cases is found in Sections 205 and 206 (respectively) of the Commonwealth Attorneys Act, 71 P.S. §§ 732-205, 206. 
    The vast majority of cases investigated by the Criminal Prosecutions Section falls into three categories and under three provisions of the Commonwealth Attorneys Act.
    1.  “Criminal charges against state officials or employees affecting the performance of their public duties or the maintenance of the public trust and criminal charges against persons attempting to influence such state officials or employees to benefit from such influence or attempt to influence.” 71 P.S. § 732-205(a)(1)

      Many of these cases are initially investigated by the Office of Inspector General and are then referred to the Office of Attorney General through the Governor’s Office of General Counsel. Other such charges are brought to our attention by “whistle blowers” and, on a number of occasions, state officials or employees have stepped forward to report a bribery attempt. Most of these cases would be directed to one of the lawyers in the Public Corruption Unit.

      Examples of the kinds of public corruption cases this office has handled include allegations of bribery, job selling, misuse of confidential information, misuse of funds, theft and improper political activities. The goals of the Public Corruption Unit are both to punish wrongdoers and to restore the faith of our citizens in their public officials and employees.

    2. “Upon the request of a district attorney who lacks the resources to conduct an adequate investigation or the prosecution of the criminal case or matter or who represents that there is the potential for an actual or apparent conflict of interest on the part of the district attorney or his office.” 71 P.S. § 732-205(a)(3)

      These referrals from the district attorneys run the gamut from summary vehicle code offenses to criminal homicides.

      The majority of district attorneys in Pennsylvania do not have an investigating grand jury and may not have any county detectives. They genuinely lack the resources to handle certain complicated cases. In addition, potential conflicts of interest arise because of the district attorneys’ association with lawyers in private practice or a defendant’s relationship to staff members. 
    3. “Criminal charges investigated by and referred to him by a Commonwealth agency arising out of enforcement provisions of the statute charging the agency with a duty to enforce its provisions.” 71 P.S. § 732-205(a)(6).
    The most typical example of this category is the referral of criminal tax violations from the Department of Revenue. These cases are handled by the Tax Crimes Unit.