The independent prosecutor Centre County commissioners unanimously authorized to investigate forgery allegations against District Attorney Stacy Parks Miller could be named in a matter of “a few days, not weeks,” county solicitor Louis Glantz said.
Glantz, who was authorized by commissioners to arrange the independent counsel, said that a county-initiated investigation of a district attorney, who operates under the commonwealth, is rare.
“It’s uncharted water,” he said. “It’s never happened in Centre County, I do know that.”
Commissioners can initiate such actions through two state statutes, one titled ‘Misconduct of district attorney’ and the other ‘District attorney charged with crime,’ Glantz said. Commissioners are seeking someone from out of county, with no connections to the local judiciary, to avoid any biases, he said. The person named may not be the person that ultimately handles the case, as the special counsel ultimately would be court-appointed, Glantz said.
Parks Miller, in a statement provided by her attorney, denied the allegations and said she had turned the matter over to the Attorney General’s Office as soon as she was made aware of the allegations, and they were already conducting an investigation. That’s where any investigation belongs, her attorney, Robert Tintner, said.
“That’s where it should be,” Tintner said. “They have jurisdiction.”
The person conducting any investigation is not the only thing to be determined by the courts. County Administrator Tim Boyde said the money to fund the investigation and pay the prosecutor would come out of the county’s general fund. The rates would be set by the court system, but the total costs are dependent on the length of the process and whether any wrongdoing is found by the prosecutor, he said.
“It’s premature to speculate on what the cost would be, because it’s an inquiry, not an indictment,” Boyde said.
When questioned about the role of the Attorney General’s Office, spokesman Aaron Sadler referred to the Commonwealth Attorneys Act. A passage in that act said district attorneys can ask the Attorney General’s Office to investigate cases with potential conflicts of interest.
He did not confirm or deny any investigation or when or if the matter was brought to the attention of the Attorney General’s Office .
“Our office does not have any additional comment,” he said in an email.
Glantz said he was unaware of any investigation by the Attorney General’s Office before the commissioners meeting Tuesday but said there should be no problem with parallel investigations.