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State rep calls Castor ‘wholly unsuitable’ for AG role

Attorney for Stacy Parks Miller Bruce Castor Jr. speaks during a press conference Friday, July 31, 2015 in front of the Centre County Courthouse in Bellefonte, Pa. After months of investigation, testimony and secrecy, the state Office of the Attorney General released its findings of a grand jury investigation into forgery allegations against Centre County District Attorney Stacy Parks Miller. The office reported that the grand jury had found no evidence of wrongdoing and that Parks Miller would not face charges.
Attorney for Stacy Parks Miller Bruce Castor Jr. speaks during a press conference Friday, July 31, 2015 in front of the Centre County Courthouse in Bellefonte, Pa. After months of investigation, testimony and secrecy, the state Office of the Attorney General released its findings of a grand jury investigation into forgery allegations against Centre County District Attorney Stacy Parks Miller. The office reported that the grand jury had found no evidence of wrongdoing and that Parks Miller would not face charges. CDT photo

One state politician is glad Bruce Castor will not be acting as Pennsylvania’s attorney general for long.

State Rep. Mark Rozzi, D-Berks, sent out a press release Thursday applauding Gov. Tom Wolf’s decision to quickly appoint a replacement for resigned AG Kathleen Kane. Wolf named Bruce Beemer, Kane’s former first deputy, who left in July to become Wolf’s inspector general. He testified in Kane’s perjury and abuse of power trial.

“Bruce Castor is wholly unsuitable to be the state’s chief law enforcement officer,” Rozzi wrote in a letter to Wolf. “As you know, I have been an ardent advocate for child sexual abuse statute of limitations reform and as a victim myself, I am appalled that Castor, best known for declining to prosecute Bill Cosby, is poised to step in as the chief prosecutor.”

In addition to the Cosby situation, Rozzi also called attention to a Centre County scandal.

In April, while serving as Kane’s solicitor general, Castor made the decision to not appeal the state Supreme Court ruling that dropped perjury, obstruction and conspiracy counts against former Penn State president Graham Spanier, former athletic director Tim Curley and former vice president Gary Schultz.

The three do still face charges of failing to report abuse and endangering the welfare of children in Dauphin County, charges that have still not been scheduled for trial after years of legal wrangling. The counts stem from testimony before a grand jury that led to Jerry Sandusky’s child sex abuse charges and later conviction.

Castor said at the time that he was “conflicted” about the decision, which he said he made due to the fear of creating a precedent that could hurt the use of investigating grand juries in Pennsylvania.

The role of attorney general is just the most recent Castor has taken on.

The former Montgomery County district attorney, who lost a bid to retake that seat in November, was named Kane’s solicitor general in March.

Pennsylvania did not have a solicitor general at that time. Kane, who was facing her own legal troubles that ended in her conviction this week, had lost her law license. Castor stepped in to pick up duties the AG was unable to do without that certification.

He is the final authority on legal and policy decisions before the AG. She can’t on the legal side, but he takes her perspective into account,” Office of Attorney General assistant press secretary Jeff Johnson said then.

In July, Castor became first deputy when Beemer left the office.

Castor has more ties to Centre County and controversy. In 2015, the county commissioners and District Attorney Stacy Parks Miller became opponents.

Parks Miller was accused by other attorneys and a former paralegal of forging the signature of Judge Pamela Ruest on a fake bail order as part of an investigation into death threats against an assistant DA. The case was referred to the OAG and presented to a grand jury, which heard testimony from handwriting experts and decided not to recommend charges. Parks Miller sued, most of the charges were dismissed and now the paralegal is suing Parks Miller for defamation and retaliation.

Throughout all that, Castor served as Parks Miller’s attorney. He remained her attorney while working for the OAG. He also served as a special deputy district attorney in Centre County.

Castor will remain acting attorney general pending Beemer’s confirmation by the state Senate. Beemer would serve only until January, when the newly elected AG would take office. Democrat Josh Shapiro and Republican John Rafferty will be on the November ballot.

Lori Falce: 814-235-3910, @LoriFalce

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