BETHEL PARK (KDKA) — Bethel Park school director Jim Means has filed an ethics complaint with the Judicial Conduct Board against Magistrate District Judge Ronald Arnoni — who is up for reelection — bringing a sharp denial from Arnoni.
“This is just politics at its worst,” Arnoni told KDKA political editor Jon Delano on Tuesday.
Means, who was not available on camera, accused Arnoni of trying to get a promotion and a raise for school security officer Jim Modrak — who is also running for magistrate — as an inducement to get him to drop his candidacy.
Modrak, a former Bethel police officer, confirmed the story during a break from firearms training at the police academy.
“It started off as a conversation between Mr. Arnoni and I at a baseball game last year, developed to him to approach the school district asking to give me an increase in title and an increase in pay to try to have me not run as magistrate,” said Modrak, a Bethel Park Democrat.
“It’s simply not true,” said Arnoni, a Bethel Park Republican. “In fact, he had asked me if I could help out in some way, and I said I’d be glad to help if there is some way that I can do so and I did speak very briefly in passing with the superintendent.”
Modrak insists Arnoni crossed the line by approaching the superintendent, his boss, to get him out of the race.
Delano: “Did you see that as a bribe?”
Modrak: “Ah. Unethical, bribe, I don’t know. Definitely unethical.”
Arnoni says the complaint is just Jim Means’ way of helping Modrak.
“He is a friend of my opponent and in fact is very, very intricately involved in his campaign,” says Arnoni.
While Arnoni stresses his experience as a judge and Modrak cites his 28 years as a police officer, a third candidate — Molly Maguire Gaussa — says she’s the only attorney running.
“I’m an attorney, and I have 11 years’ experience,” noted Gaussa, an Upper St. Clair Republican. “And I have the hands-on experience, the education, and I’m a life-long resident of this district.”
Voters in Bethel Park and Upper St. Clair will decide next Tuesday.