Bruce Castor did get paid before Stacy Parks Miller left the Centre County District Attorney's Office.
According to copies of checks confirmed by the county, the former Montgomery County DA — who represented Parks Miller and served as her special assistant DA in Centre County at the same time he was Pennsylvania's attorney general — received two checks signed Dec. 29.
One was for $1,122. 81 from the "County of Centre District Attorney Law Enforcement Account." The other, for $23,891.98, was from the "County of Centre District Attorney Drug Forfeiture Account."
It sounds like a lot of money, but it might have been a bargain. When Castor asked Centre County for money in 2016, the bill was $124,400.
"That, we said we are not paying and never will," Centre County Board of Commissioners Chairman Michael Pipe said.
Parks Miller engaged Castor in 2015 as her personal attorney after allegations of forgery were raised at a commissioner meeting and subsequently forwarded by the DA herself to the AG's office.
Former AG Kathleen Kane had not yet hired Castor as her solicitor general, although she was already facing her own legal battles that would eventually remove her from office. The AG's investigation would include a grand jury that decided Parks Miller had not forged the signature of now President Judge Pamela Ruest.
But Castor, who was representing Parks Miller pro bono, also came on board officially with her office. He represented the county in matters that overlapped with the defense attorneys she was suing and who brought up the allegations, including the man who now holds her job, Bernie Cantorna.
The county never hired Castor. His position never went in front of the salary board or came up for a vote by commissioners. His contract was signed by himself and Parks Miller on April 9, 2015, and notes that he will be paid for "time and expenses Mr. Castor incurs in the course of acting as an attorney for the Commonwealth," but without specifics as to how much that time would cost.
Castor worked on more than just cases that included those contentious attorneys, including working with Parks Miller on the Beta Theta Pi grand jury called to investigate the death of Timothy Piazza after a fall at the fraternity house.
The checks correspond to invoices from Rogers Castor, Castor's law firm, for expenses including $503 in mileage and for travel expenses such as mileage and a hotel the day before the grand jury recommendation was announced in May 2017. There was a $222 stay at the Atherton Hotel in November that was also listed as Beta-related.
Another $983 was billed as relating to the Jalene McClure case, the aggravated assault charges against a daycare provider in a case that was overturned and sent back for a new trial. Cantorna was McClure's lawyer. That new prosecution has been turned over to the AG's office.
Those expenses include four different hotel stays over a two year period.
Pipe said the county "turned a big corner" in having Cantorna take over the DA's office. Cantorna defeated Parks Miller in the primary, where they were both on the Democratic ticket.
"We want to let him do his due diligence" on the payments, Pipe said.
The original $124,000 bill to the county did not include the same kind of detailed invoices submitted to the DA's' office just two days before the checks were cut.
Additional time records show at least 141 hours of time, but include 27 redacted entries. The visible entries include things like "Phone call with Joe McGettigan on...possible empaneling of a GJ (grand jury) for Centre County. Report back to DA on same," and editing the second grand jury report issued on Beta in November.
Pipe said he could not say what the "law enforcement account" was and hypothesized that Parks Miller "just created it and called it the law enforcement account."
Drug forfeiture money, however, does have guidelines.
"Cash or proceeds of property subject to forfeiture under section 5802 and transferred to the custody of the district attorney or Attorney General under subsection (f) shall be utilized by the district attorney or Attorney General for the enforcement of or prevention of a violation of the provisions of The Controlled Substance, Drug, Device and Cosmetic Act," state law says.
"In appropriate cases, the district attorney and the Attorney General may designate proceeds from the forfeited property to be utilized by community-based drug and crime-fighting programs and for relocation and protection of witnesses in criminal cases. Real property may be transferred to a nonprofit organization to alleviate blight resulting from violations of The Controlled Substance, Drug, Device and Cosmetic Act," it goes on.
Pipe said it will be up to Cantorna to decide if paying Castor would be constituted as misappropriation.
"That money could be put to better use to address the opioid crisis than to be given to Mr. Castor," he said.
Parks Miller stands by her hiring decisions and payment.
"Bruce Castor was a lawfully appointed ADA who successfully worked on many cases in my office over years. The law is clear a DA can appoint a Special ADA without Commissioner approval or input," she said.
She maintained the argument that she has since those first allegations were raised in 2015, that the whole issue was politically motivated.
"The necessity of his services arose when dishonest persons falsely accused me of forgery and started to file frivolous motions attacking my office," she said.
According to Parks Miller, the money fell within the parameters of the drug forfeiture fund's use.
"All payments were authorized expenditures under the act. His real bill for all of his work on criminal cases would be staggering, if submitted, even at the DA rate. These expenditures are all audited annually and contained in public reports to the Attorney General. Any issues raised about this by the Commissioners are fake to continue to make planted negative press," she said.
Castor and Cantorna have not yet responded to requests for comment.