Judge search delays Beaver County sheriff's hearing

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A preliminary hearing for Beaver County Sheriff George David set for Monday was delayed while officials search for a district judge from another county to handle the case.

A new date was set for April 29 at the Beaver County Courthouse.

State police hauled the sheriff out of the courthouse March 25 in handcuffs after charging him with threatening two people in 2011 and last year.

The president judge of Common Pleas Court filed a motion last week recusing all the district judges in the county from presiding over the preliminary hearing.

The Administrative Office of Pennsylvania Courts will choose a district judge to hear the case, but no one had been picked as of Monday.

The sheriff is free on a $50,000 bond pending the hearing and has been reporting to work at the courthouse, although he had to surrender his gun and a blackjack he is accused of using during a profane rant against one of the alleged victims.

Sheriff David faces charges of official oppression, intimidation of witnesses, reckless endangerment, obstructing justice, simple assault and terroristic threats. All are misdemeanors.

According to a state grand jury report, the sheriff threatened to cut off the hands of a campaign volunteer in November 2011. In April 2012, the grand jury said, he threatened a local blogger while waving his gun around and slamming the blackjack onto a table.

In addition, the grand jury said he coerced two deputies who witnessed the 2012 incident into lying that it never happened. The two later told the grand jury about the incident, according to the report.

The sheriff has denied that he threatened anyone but has otherwise refused comment.

County officials have been under pressure from the public to remove the sheriff from office, but under the law they have no power to do so.

Only the governor or the state Legislature can remove a row officer, according to the solicitor for the county commissioners.

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Torsten Ove: tove@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1510. First Published April 1, 2013 1:00 AM


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