Beaver County Sheriff George David violated conditions of his bond and until his trial in February he may no longer enter part of the office he runs, a judge ruled Friday.
The unusual arrangement, which prohibits Sheriff David from entering the section of the Beaver County Courthouse sheriff’s office that deals with criminal matters, was decided Friday by Francis J. Fornelli, a senior judge with Mercer County Common Pleas Court.
The sheriff is charged with simple assault, making terroristic threats and reckless endangerment, among other charges. He is accused of threatening a blogger and a campaign worker in two separate incidents. He was arrested in February following an 11-month investigation by a state grand jury in Pittsburgh.
He continues to serve as the sheriff for the county, but now he must do so from the civil side of the office only.
Judge Fornelli said he made the bond modification because he was “bothered” by direct and indirect contact the sheriff has had with potential witnesses, including people who work in the sheriff’s office. Much of that contact was related to the workings of the office, said Myron Sainovich, who is solicitor for the sheriff’s office but is not representing Sheriff David.
Judge Fornelli said he was especially bothered by a message the sheriff passed to Michael Tibolet, a sheriff’s deputy, telling him he was not upset with him.
“That gets really close to tampering with a witness in my mind,” Judge Fornelli said.
Beaver County blogger John Paul Vranesevich testified at a preliminary hearing in April that two deputies, Mr. Tibolet and Thomas Ochs, were present when he said the sheriff launched into a tirade at him, pulling his pistol and waving it around.
Short of running into the office to yell “fire,” Judge Fornelli said he did not want to hear about a “breathe of contact” between the sheriff and any potential witnesses in the case. Another bond violation could result in the sheriff being sent to jail until his Feb. 24 trial, Judge Fornelli said.
First Published November 22, 2013 4:05 PM