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GREENSBURG (KDKA) – Charged by the state Attorney General’s Office for allegedly using his staff to perform campaign activities on the clock, Westmoreland County Sheriff Jonathan Held not surprisingly came under direct attack by prosecutor Bobbi Jo Wagner during her very short open arguments to the jury.
Wagner told the jury comprised of eight women and four men: “What the case is really about is his [Held’s] ego and how he believes he’s above the law. [Held] used his employees for his campaign. County personnel worked on county time, it was taxpayers money, the juror’s money.”
In 2015 and 2016, Held allegedly directed on-duty deputies to pick up merchandise, food and money to be used for campaign events.
Prosecutors also maintain Held would punish those who did not help out with punitive, unpopular duties.
“Nobody is denying workers did solicit donations,” said defense attorney Ryan M. Tutera. “Nobody was told, threatened or commanded. It was voluntary. [Held] wanted to change the culture of the department, that’s angered some in the community. Chiefs of police and commissioners because it would interfere with their freedom. You must find this man not guilty. Use your filter”
The defense maintains that many people on the prosecution witness list have had some problem with the truth when dealing with the Attorney General’s Office.