The grand jury report clearing Centre County District Attorney Stacy Parks Miller drew responses from many of the parties involved, the most visible being a news conference held by Parks Miller on the steps of the courthouse Friday afternoon.
Parks Miller had harsh words for her accuser, Michelle Shutt, and asked the Attorney General’s Office to pursue charges against her former paralegal and “anyone else that assisted, encouraged and supported her lies” since the forgery allegations were made. From the report’s findings, Parks Miller said it is “crystal clear” that Shutt committed crimes such as perjury and making false reports.
The district attorney also named the Centre County Board of Commissioners, solicitor Louis Glantz and local defense attorneys Bernard Cantorna, Philip Masorti and Sean McGraw, Shutt’s attorney, in engaging in a “witch hunt” against her in an attempt to shatter her reputation by suggesting that her office and law enforcement in Centre County was corrupt.
“I respect the law and the Constitution and I demand that everyone that was involved in this corruption be prosecuted in this matter and I will fight against corruption as your DA,” Parks Miller said. “This stops here and now and I will not stop until the right people are held accountable.”
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The three attorneys have factored in other prominent legal matters involving Parks Miller, county judges and county officials.
Cantorna and McGraw, a former assistant district attorney in Parks Miller’s office, used phone records obtained through Right-to-Know requests filed with county government to allege ex parte communications between judges and prosecutors. These cases spawned lawsuits between Parks Miller, county judges and the county and defense attorneys over the state Right-to-Know law.
McGraw and Masorti also sought to have Parks Miller disqualified from hearing cases involving their clients. Masorti withdrew that motion and a judge denied McGraw’s earlier this year.
Bruce Castor Jr., Parks Miller’s attorney and Centre County special assistant district attorney, took the podium after Parks Miller and said the incident was not only an attack on Parks Miller, but also her office, district attorneys and the judicial system. Castor said he and Parks Miller will do everything in their power, to include calling on the legislature, to enhance penalties for falsely attacking public figures.
Civil litigation is a “probability,” Castor said.
“Until I have decided exactly the types of causes of action and the individuals that should be held civilly liable, I don’t want to say more, but I certainly will make the documents public when they are filed,” Castor said.
Members of the Board of Commissioners were split about the report’s findings. Commissioner Michael Pipe said he accepted the findings as the “truth” and now that it’s been handed down, it was time to move forward.
The board needs to recognize some wrongdoing on its part, Pipe said.
Pipe said part of what happened was caused by “bad legal advice” provided by Glantz. Pipe said he planned on asking Glantz to resign at the next commissioners meeting as a step toward regaining trust among the board, the District Attorney’s Office and the public.
“We need to go a long way to rebuild what happened,” Pipe said. “This was a seismic event, a big event, in Centre County government and it’s going to take some time to rebuild that trust.”
Commissioner Chris Exarchos said he wasn’t surprised by the findings and that the report’s credibility only went as far as one’s faith and in the attorney general and her office. He said he still has concerns about fairness issues in Centre County.
“I think it (the report) raises more questions than it really answers. I don’t think it settles the matter,” Exarchos said. “I don’t think it settles the matter about what’s going on in our courts.”
Exarchos defended the commissioners’ actions, saying that he felt they did the best they could with the information they had at the time to handle a serious allegation made by a former employee.
Exarchos and Glantz denied any conspiracy Friday. Glantz added that he was “disappointed” by Pipe’s statements and said he stood by the legal advice he provided.
McGraw declined to comment Friday, pending full review of the grand jury report and media statements made by Parks Miller.
Masorti also declined to comment Friday. Cantorna could not be reached for comment.