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HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP/KDKA) – The state attorney general’s office has charged the Westmoreland County sheriff with directing on-duty sheriff’s officers to seek and collect political contributions for his re-election campaign.

Forty-three-year-old Sheriff Jonathan Held of Claridge was charged Monday with theft of services, theft and felony conflict of interest.

State prosecutors allege that beginning in 2015, Held assigned at least one deputy to solicit for donations for his “I Out Shot the Sheriff” campaign fundraiser while on duty.

Authorities also allege that a witness said the sheriff discussed altering time sheets to hide the activity and punished anyone suspected of cooperating with investigators.

Ryan Tutera, Held’s attorney, says the sheriff denies the allegations.

“The sheriff maintains his innocence. He’s looking forward to fighting these charges. He’s dutifully and faithfully served the good people of Westmoreland County and he’ll continue to do so,” he said. “These are biased witnesses. These people have an ax to grind. They’re disgruntled employees, and we look forward to fighting these charges … My client is innocent and those are false allegations. If you look at the complaint, these people change their stories. They lied the first time to the investigators and they’re lying still.”

Held was released pending a March 15 preliminary hearing.

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