[We now have an explanation for the conflict of interest:
This blog is generally about the disappearance of former Centre County District Attorney Ray Gricar. Among other things, I look in detail about the investigation into this disappearance. Just under six months ago, I looked at the swirling rumors regarding former assistant football coach at Penn State, Jerry Sandusky.1
I was surprised that then Centre County District Attorney, Michael T. Madeira, turned the case over to the Pennsylvania Attorney General’s Office (PAG). I was surprised because when asked about turning the Gricar case over the PAG, that Office said that the only grounds for doing were as follows:
There are two sections which pertain to the matter at hand: First, §732-205(3) states that I may conduct a prosecution upon the request of a district attorney who lacks the resources to conduct an adequate criminal investigation or prosecution, or upon the request of a district attorney who represents that there is potential for an actual or apparent conflict of interest on the part of the district attorney or his office.2
Well, I don’t recall doing a blog titled, “Turn the case over to the PAG’s Office.” I have been willing to let then Mr. Madeira, and his successor, Stacy Parks Miller, exercise their independent judgment on if there were sufficient resources. I have never seen a true conflict of interest either. I am therefore stunned at the reason that the case was turned over to PAG’s Office by Mr. Madeira, a conflict of interest, according to news story by former CDT reporter Sara Ganim.3
Now, Mr. Sandusky was, in 2009, a prominent citizen of Centre County. He was a noted former assistant football coach of Penn State in the heart of Nittany Lion country; he had an impressive record as the head of a worthy charity. It is probable that Mr. Sandusky and Mr. Madeira had run into each other, as a sitting district attorney is ex officio prominent. There is no suggestion that they knew each other well or were in any way close. Every offense Mr. Sandusky is charged with dated from a period prior to Mr. Madeira taking office; Mr. Madeira was in fact with the PAG’s Office at the time. There appears to be no conflict of interest between the two.
The involvement of Mr. Gricar was stronger, but official. In 1998, according to the article, he arranged for some time of stake out, with police hiding in the victim’s home when Mr. Sandusky arrived for a talk with the victim’s mother. Again the fact Mr. Gricar had some involvement in the case and considered it possibly criminal, would not create a conflict of interest. A district attorney’s office obviously might obviously look at someone accused of burglary and decide that the case was not strong enough to try, while later charging him in a stronger case.
As someone who has praised Mr. Gricar’s prowess and professionalism in the past, I find this very shocking. Had Mr. Gricar been more aggressive, calling a grand jury (he had the ability to do so) or if he had asked for assistance from the PAG’s Office, perhaps the situation would not have continued. Certainly, there was evidence to indict Mr. Sandusky of the 1998 charge, as he has been indicted on it. This may represent a nadir in Mr. Gricar’s professional activities and a high point in Mr. Madeira tenure as district attorney; it might ultimately prove to be a colossal lapse of judgment on Mr. Gricar’s part, if he chose not to prosecute on the same evidence.
That said, we still don’t know the conflict of interest, real or apparent, that led Mr. Madeira, though not Mr. Gricar, from referring the matter to PAG’s Office. It is time to ask: Conflict? What conflict?
2 Letter from Hon. Tom Corbett to Hon. Robert W. Buehner, Jr.
Centre Daily Times Ray Gricar Section: http://www.centredaily.com/138/
Link to the Main Index for Sporadic Comments on Ray Gricar: http://www.centredaily.com/2011/03/21/2597340/main-index-32011.html
E-mail J. J. in Phila at email@example.com