Retired Armstrong County judge to preside over Beaver County sheriff's hearing

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A retired Armstrong County magistrate will preside over the April 29 preliminary hearing for Beaver County Sheriff George David, who is charged with issuing threats against a reporter and a campaign volunteer.

The Administrative Office of the Pennsylvania Courts selected former District Judge Michael Gerheim, who retired in 2009 after 19 years of hearing cases in Leechburg.

John McBride, the chief judge in Beaver County, had recused all of the magistrates and judges in Beaver County from presiding over the case because of long-time connections with the sheriff and his office.

The hearing will be held at 1 p.m. in courtroom No. 8 at the Beaver County Courthouse, with the attorney general's office prosecuting. The AG is expected to call four witnesses. Sheriff David is represented by attorneys Lee Rothman of Pittsburgh and Myron Sainovich of Beaver County.

The sheriff is charged with 11 misdemeanors related to the alleged threats in 2011 and last year. State police arrested him at the courthouse last month following a state grand jury investigation.

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

In November 2011, Daniel Fleishman, a campaign re-election volunteer for several Beaver County officials -- including Sheriff David -- went to the Democratic campaign headquarters to pick up signs and other items, Cpl. Joseph Olayer of the Gibsonia state police barracks wrote in the state police criminal complaint.

When Mr. Fleishman reached out to shake Sheriff David's hand, the sheriff called Mr. Fleishman a profane name and threatened to cut off his hands and eat them, according to the complaint.

A witness, an elected row officer in Beaver County, told investigators that Sheriff David was "going ballistic," Cpl. Olayer wrote.

Mr. Sainovich said at the time of the sheriff's arrest his client was referring to himself.

"I think that's what he meant -- that he would cut off his hand and eat his own hand before he [would shake] hands" with Mr. Fleishman, Mr. Sainovich said.

Another allegation came in April.

John Paul Vranesevich, who operates the website The Beaver Countian, told authorities the sheriff threatened him with a gun in the sheriff's office, according to the criminal complaint.

In internal reports, the two sheriff's deputies in the room denied anything inappropriate happened because they were intimidated by Sheriff David, one fearing that he would lose his job, according to the criminal complaint.

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