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GREENSBURG (KDKA) — The Westmoreland County Sheriff is accused of making his staff do campaign work on the job, and he was in court Monday for a pre-trial hearing.
What started as a motions hearing on what questions potential jurors would have to answer during jury selection in Sheriff Jonathan Held‘s upcoming corruption trial resulted in a lot more.
“I objected to a lot of the questions the commonwealth asked,” defense attorney Ryan Tutera said.
Prosecutors from the Attorney Generals’ office sparred with Tutera on the contents of the jury’s questionnaire, including whether they watched police crime shows or were members of specific organizations, including the NRA, of which Held is an active member.
“I think the questions they asked were not appropriate. They were designed for something other than seeing if someone could be fair and impartial and I think the judge saw that,” Tutera said.
The 5-and-a-half hour proceeding also saw the Attorney General’s office ask Held’s campaign finance records to be released.
“That has nothing to do with what they’re alleging. They allege that my client ordered sheriff’s deputies to go and campaign during work hours. That’s what we all heard at the preliminary hearing. Now they want to expand this into his campaign finance reports,” Tutera said.
The Attorney General’s office also asked for information regarding the findings and results of a private investigator hired by Sheriff Held.
“This is something that’s intended to confuse the issues for the jury and confuse the issues for which my client is defending himself against,” Tutera said.
The judge has to rule on the campaign finance records as well as the private investigator’s findings. The trial is set to start on Dec. 3.