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PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Following a two-hour preliminary hearing on Thursday, Westmoreland County Sheriff Jonathan Held was ordered to stand trial on three charges, all involving alleged public corruption.
Held, 43, of Hempfield Township, is accused of using several sheriff’s office employees to help in his 2015 re-election campaign. And, the Pennsylvania Attorney General says the staffers did political work for Held while they were supposed to be on the job.
Held is accused of one felony, and two misdemeanor theft charges.
KDKA’s Ross Guidotti Reports:
Retired Lt. Vince Izzo testified Thursday that he got food donations and gift donations while working. He also testified he picked up guns donated as prizes. Also, he said the majority of the work was done while he was in uniform, using a Westmoreland County Sheriff’s car.
He said he spent four hours at a time on the county clock doing campaign fundraising work three times a week.
During cross examination by Held’s attorney, Izzo admitted he didn’t tell state investigators every detail when he was first questioned, for fear he’d be fired or lose his pension.
That admission prompted Held’s defense attorney, Ryan Tutera, to tell reporters, “You heard one of their key witnesses say he was lying.”
Another witness was Sheriff’s Sgt. Irvin Shipley. He said Held asked him and other deputies “to solicit donations for campaign fundraising events.”
KDKA’s Meghan Schiller Reports:
He said deputies would go out, under the premise of serving warrants near gun shops, to solicit donations for re-election fundraisers.
Tutera says he didn’t think his client ordered anybody to do anything, and he added his client has no plans of stepping down.
“He’s not going anywhere. He was the elected sheriff and he’s going to stay sheriff,” Tutera said.
No trial date has been set for Held. He remains free without bond.