Beaver County Sheriff George David accused of threatening campaign volunteer, reporter

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Pennsylvania State Police arrested Beaver County Sheriff George David today following a months-long state grand jury investigation.

According to the Pennsylvania attorney general's office, Sheriff David threatened a campaign volunteer, saying he would "cut (the man's) hands off and eat them" as well as threatening to "blow (a reporter's) brains out" after pulling a gun.

"It's not enough for law enforcement officers to simply abide by the law," Pennsylvania attorney general Kathleen Kane said in a prepared statement. "They must also set a good example for others. Sheriff David failed on both counts."

Sheriff David, 65, of Aliquippa, has been charged with 11 misdemeanors: two counts of making terroristic threats, three counts of simple assault, recklessly endangering another person, official oppression, obstruction of administration, and three counts of intimidation of a witness or victim, according to state police in Beaver.

Sheriff David was arraigned this afternoon before District Justice Tim Finn.

Sheriff David's attorney, Myron Sainovich, said his client denies both incidents took place the way his accusers describe.

Concerning the campaign worker's allegations, he said Sheriff David was only referring to himself -- that he would rather eat his own hand than talk with the worker.

He said his client is "definitely someone who's strongly opinionated" but he is not a criminal.

John Paul Vranesevich, who operates the website The Beaver Countian, accused the sheriff of threatening him with a gun during an interview in April, according to the state police criminal complaint.

Mr. Sainovich said Sheriff David did not threaten Mr. Vranesevich with a gun.

At first, Mr. Vranesevich was writing positive stories about the sheriff on The Beaver Countian, Mr. Sainovich said.

"He asked him to help a friend of his with an issue and the sheriff said 'I can't get involved with that,'" Mr. Sainovich said.

After that, Mr. Sainovich said, the favorable coverage stopped.

Sheriff David was released on $50,000 unsecured bond and will return to work this afternoon, Mr. Sainovich said.

Conditions of his bond include not carrying a firearm, having no contact with his accusers or potential witnesses and being barred from the courthouse and other county property expect for hearings in the case and what Judge Finn in his order called "necessary duties in his capacity as County Sheriff."

Sheriff David must also hand over to state police a weapon called a "black jack," according to Judge Finn's order.

Corporal Joseph Olayer from the Gibsonia state police barracks described why he was taken into custody and not served a summons.

"This is a crime of violence," Corporal Olayer said. "We wouldn't be doing our job if we didn't arrest him."

A former steelworker, Sheriff David ascended the police ranks during more than 30 years in Aliquippa. He was also Beaver County's sheriff in 1996 and 1997 after being appointed to fill out the term of former Sheriff Frank Policaro Jr.

He was defeated in 1997 and ran again a decade later.

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Molly Born: mborn@post-gazette.com, 412-263-1944 and on Twitter: @borntolede. First Published March 25, 2013 4:00 AM


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