State Sen. Jeff Piccola charged with professional misconduct

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A longtime state senator from Dauphin County is facing charges of professional misconduct related to work he performed as a private attorney involving locating family heirs.

Republican Sen. Jeff Piccola is not seeking re-election this year after several decades in the General Assembly. He is scheduled to appear at an Oct. 24 hearing before the state Supreme Court Disciplinary Board on the matter.

A 73-page court filing charges Mr. Piccola acted inappropriately in his role with Kemp and Associates, a Utah-based firm that contacts potential beneficiaries when people die without leaving a will.

The firm, and in turn Mr. Piccola, were to keep a portion of whatever assets the beneficiaries receive. The legal filing from the Office of Disciplinary Counsel states that similar arrangements have been invalidated by earlier court rulings because the financial stake created a conflict of interest for the attorney representing the beneficiaries.

Mr. Piccola's attorney denied all allegations in a 52-page brief, arguing that the firm's activities do not constitute practices of law and are not illegal in Pennsylvania.

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