Corruption

Weirdness in Wecht Trial Continues

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Yesterday, I posted about a hung jury in the federal corruption trial of Pennsylvania medical examiner Cyril Wecht, and the allegations of political motivation in the case on the part of U.S. Attorney Mary Beth Buchanan.

The case just gets odder. The judge apparently also instructed the jurors not to talk to attorneys or the media—even after the trial was over, and even though the jurors were under no legal obligation to obey his request.

Now, the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reports that at least two jurors have been contacted by FBI agents, who requested interviews in their homes. Buchanan's office says this is routine. Other attorneys the paper interviewed say they never heard of such a thing, and that it smacks of intimidation.

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  1. “…even though the jurors were under no legal obligation to obey his request.” (emphasis added)

    Her request?

  2. The judge is a man. The prosecutor is a woman.

  3. I wonder if Cyril Wecht did Myron Cope’s autopsy.

  4. …at least two jurors have been contacted by the FBI agents, who requested interviews in their homes. Buchanan’s office says this is routine.

    Geez. No wonder US Attorneys have such high conviction rates.

  5. Is there any possibility the G-men are looking into the prosecutor and judge, and not intimidating?

    Probably not.

  6. I have some mixed feelings on this. On the one hand, as I trial attorney, I try to speak to some jurors in a hung case before I try the next one to see what they thought was good for my side, or how I should change my presentation. On the other hand, using the FBI to do it seems awfully heavy-handed.
    Is that too many hands?

  7. Buchanan’s office says this is routine.

    Oh, sure. That happens all the time. The FBI just wants to make sure they got the cost of lunch reimbursed.

    Is there any possibility the G-men are looking into the prosecutor and judge, and not intimidating? My thoughts exactly. The FBI actually DOES investigate corruption by public officials. They busted my home town’s Building Inspector a few years ago.

  8. The FBI actually DOES investigate corruption by public officials.

    Indeed. One of their more legitimate functions.

    *cough* Spitzer *cough*

  9. Yesterday, i posted…

    You working for Apple now Radley? In which case should that be ‘iPosted’?

  10. 1. I think he botched the Daniel Smith autopsy.

    2. How many Flight 93 victims did he examine?

  11. I met Dr. Wecht when I was interning at KQV 1410 AM (you give us 20 minutes, we’ll give you the world!).

    He had that shady politician-y stench about him. Weird liver spots on his bald head, too.

  12. Yup, now they are being investigated by the FBI. That’ll teach them to not vote guilty no matter what. It’s the next logical step in our nations legal (but not justice) system. Jurors will vote the way they are told OR ELSE!

  13. Weird liver spots on his bald head, too

    That’s your future, Taktix(R)(C)(tm).
    Embrace it.

  14. He was charged with using his political office for personal gain? Isn’t that the whole point of politics?

  15. All, please read the newspaper article that is linked to the blog entry. The US Attorney is not investigating jury tampering at all. Additionally, even though the judge requested that the jury refrain from talking to anyone about the trial, the jury is not bound by such request by law. Now that the trial is over, the jury may talk to anyone they so desire about the case.

    What US Attorney Mary Beth Buchanan has stated is that she wishes to talk to the jurors about the trial itself. She is allowed to do this and usually any person that is faced with a hung jury does this action. It is just odd that she would decide to do such a course of action after having already stated she will retry the case. It is equally odd that out of all representatives of her office that could contact the jurors to set up meeting times (something a secretary or aide usually would do in most offices), Ms. Buchanan would instruct the FBI to do these calls.

    Many are concerned that such an action is meant to intimidate the jury and future jurors. I for one agree. I imagine having an FBI agent show up at your door is unnerving to say the least.

  16. Yeah, bet that’ll get to the next jurors somehow on purpose.

    In the event we don’t get a guilty verdict the FBI will be coming to see you . . .

  17. I imagine having an FBI agent show up at your door is unnerving to say the least.

    And having a U.S. Attorney show up isn’t?

    Many are concerned that such an action is meant to intimidate the jury and future jurors.

    Right, and Wecht putting official fees into his personal accounts was just a “billing error.”

    In other news, the 9/11 attacks are now being blamed on “pilot error.”

  18. By the way, Radley, be cautious of citing the Tribune Review. They are like the NY Post of Pittsburgh, except they get a lot more wrong and end up retracting lots of stuff.

    The ownership saw a “market for a balanced alternative to the liberal Post Gazette” which in 21st Century Newspeak means it’s a right-wing rags. Basically, one of heirs to the Mellon fortune, Richard Mellon Scaife, decided to start his own pet project.

    He also bought several local papers, like the one I used to work for, and shut them down. He still continues to claim their circulation numbers, however.

    DISCLOSURE: I was a employee for Trib Total Media, the parent company of the Tribune Review, in 2005 and 2006.

  19. “Right, and Wecht putting official fees into his personal accounts was just a “billing error.””

    Where are you getting this one from?

    Dr. Wecht has never been accused of doing this. The indictment against Wecht is for sending faxes using a county fact machine, sending three packaged through the county office that were for his private practice, occasionally using a county car provided to him as coroner to visit his private clients, and trading unclaimed cadavers to a local forensic college prior to having them incinerated (which is an action he is allowed to do as county coroner).

    I am sorry that you are uninformed. I wish you would just read up on the case before going out and slandering people.

    As for the 9/11 comment, where is this coming from? Is this a response one should expect from you when they point out how you are wrong due to the fact you are uninformed.

    Seriously, I the ability to have a healthy discourse with people within comments. unfortunately such does not appear to be possible with you.

  20. *cough* Spitzer *cough*

    Bah, they just went after me because I was a Democrat.

    Besides, I never paid hookers for sex. I just had a couple “trouser/wallet malfunctions.”

  21. And having a U.S. Attorney show up isn’t?

    US Attorneys don’t carry guns and can’t arrest you directly. An important distinction.

  22. I wish you would just read up on the case before going out and slandering people.

    Since when do politicians deserve a fair shake? They don’t offer us the same courtesy.

    In fact, the way I see it, Wecht should be in jail, and they should pick five of his colleges at random and throw em’ in jail too. Chances are, they were corrupt fucks anyway…

  23. Where are you getting this one from? Dr. Wecht has never been accused of doing this.

    Sheesh, I already linked it once.

    In 1979, Wecht was accused of depositing autopsy fees into a personal account rather than the Coroner’s office account.

    I am sorry that you are uninformed. I wish you would just read up on the case before going out and slandering people.

    Oh, the irony.

  24. US Attorneys don’t carry guns and can’t arrest you directly. An important distinction.

    You sure about that? Can’t most DA’s arrest people? They sure as hell can carry a gun.

    I’d be much more worried about the US Attorney showing up at my door than an agent. Agents generally can’t make their political career railroading you.

  25. hey, Elliot Spitzer. Please provide a link for your bullcrap. I do not know where you are getting your information, because the Wikipedia site does not say that. Here is what is written with a reference:

    In 1979, Wecht was charged criminally with allegedly transacting approximately $400,000 of private business using county facilities and resources of the county morgue. [3] All charges brought against Dr. Wecht were dismissed except for one. Dr. Wecht was acquitted on the remaining charge at the conclusion of the criminal trial. [3] After the failed criminal trial, the county filed a subsequent civil suit against Dr. Wecht. The civil suit proceedings led to a settlement in which Dr. Wecht agreed to pay a $200,000 to the county, which he made without showing any contrition. [3]

  26. US Attorneys don’t carry guns and can’t arrest you directly. An important distinction.

    – [sighs.] I cannot kill my friend.
    (Turns to two henchmen)

    – Kill my friend.

  27. Also TallDave, Wikipedia is not a valid reference at all. It is unfortunate you do not actually reference a legitimate news site.

    All the 1979 charges were dismissed against Dr. Wecht except one. The remaining one resulted in an acquittal. After losing the criminal trial, the DA filed a civil complaint which Dr. Wecht settled out of court five or six years later in an agreement where he did not admit guilt. Most in the Pittsburgh area felt Dr. Wecht was tired of fighting a case throughout the entire eighties.

    Guess the notion of innocent until proven guilty does not register with you.

  28. Please provide a link for your bullcrap. I do not know where you are getting your information, because the Wikipedia site does not say that

    Yes, it does. Someone has tried to edit it out since I posted it, but Wiki edits leave footprints.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Cyril_Wecht&diff=204935180&oldid=204575106

    Wecht’s tenure as Allegheny County Coroner was not without controversy. While he was responsible for significant upgrades in the professionalism and technology of the coroner’s office during his service in that office from 1970 to 1980, making the Allegheny County Coroner’s office one of the best in the nation, Wecht’s political career proved as controversial as many of his forensic findings. In 1979, Wecht was accused of depositing autopsy fees into a personal account rather than the Coroner’s office account. He argued that the charges were politically motivated as he was running for Allegheny County Commissioner at the time. He faced criminal charges for the incident but was acquitted when the case went to trial in 1981. The county then sued him seeking $390,000. After losing the case in 1983, he appealed and after a nine year battle, the case was finally settled out of court in 1992 after Wecht agreed to pay $200,000 in damages.[http://www.post-gazette.com/magazine/19991024wecht1.asp] “Cyril H. Wecht: Up-close and personal”

  29. Also TallDave, Wikipedia is not a valid reference at all. It is unfortunate you do not actually reference a legitimate news site.

    Hey Mr. “Everyone who disagrees with me is uninformed, even though I am clearly ignorant of many basic facts about the case,” try scrolling down. There are dozens of news links given in the article.

  30. Your got to be kidding me. Did you even go to the link of the reference provided in the Wikipedia stuff you sent over?

    http://www.post-gazette.com/magazine/19991024wecht1.asp

    Go to it. Please go to it. It is an op-ed by the post gazette written during the Roddy/Wecht Election for County Executive. I believe the Post Gazette endorsed Roddy. Not sure, but from the op ed, I think I am probably right.

    Yeah real factual.

    I guess you missed the point that of the article that said:

    “Wecht was acquitted of theft of services, the only criminal charge that hadn’t already been dropped.”

    Can’t see why someone would take this out of a Wikipedia entry. I mean it is so factually accurate and unbiased.

  31. “Hey Mr. “Everyone who disagrees with me is uninformed, even though I am clearly ignorant of many basic facts about the case,” try scrolling down.”

    Yeah, I have already read them. Sorry, I like a good dialog with someone that is informed, but you appear not to be. Guess the truth hit a never with you. I mean why else would you be resorting to name calling changing your id to “elliot spitzer” etc.

    All I ask is that you read up on the case prior to judging the man as guilty, etc.

    Personally, I think Dr. Wecht is an A-hole in how he treats others and what not. I just do not feel after reading all the press coverage on the case that the government proved its case. I also do not believe being an a-hole and having prior accusations (which one was acquitted on) are grounds for guilt in the public place.

  32. He also LOST the civil case:

    The county then sued him seeking $390,000. After losing the case in 1983, he appealed

    So tell us again how he was never accused of putting money in a private account, O great Oracle of Pittsburgh.

  33. TallDave and others, here are two news sources that provided continued coverage of the Wecht case.

    http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsburghtrib/news/specialreports/wecht/trial/

    http://www.thepittsburghchannel.com/Wecht/index.html

    Look forward to getting responses about the 9/11 hijackers, Rev Wright, Elliot Spitzer, and what ever else is provided that is not related to the discussion.

  34. Well, James, so far you’ve proved yourself ignorant of:

    1) what is news and what is analysis

    2) whether Wecht was ever accused of putting public fees in a private account

    3) that Wikipedia cites news sources

    I look forward to more misstatements of fact, hilariously combined with admonoitions that we should all do more research so we understand everything as well as you.

  35. The FBI actually DOES investigate corruption by public officials.

    Indeed. One of their more legitimate functions.

    *cough* Spitzer *cough*

    *sputter* Forrest Allgood? *sputter*

  36. From the linked op-ed:

    Then, in 1979, The Press broke this bombshell: That the coroner maintained a private bank account for out-of-county autopsies done at the morgue. Wecht, who announced his candidacy for county commissioner that very day, smelled politics and Coon, who was running against him.

    Long saga short: In 1981, after a super-charged trial, Wecht was acquitted of theft of services, the only criminal charge that hadn’t already been dropped. The civil charges stuck to him through 1983, when a judge ruled that he owed the county $172,000. Wecht’s appeal resulted in a ruling that he owed $250,000. Still he refused to pay. (In fact, not until 1993 did he settle the decade-long litigation by paying $200,000, with no apologies.)

    Not so much the persecuted innocent lambikins.

  37. *sputter* Forrest Allgood? *sputter*

    We can only hope.

  38. TallDave,

    Fid you take a corresponce course on Douchiness? Maybe it was Idiocy 101 at the local CC?

    Euther way, you’ve masterd the material.

  39. J sub D,

    Why? Are you teaching a course?

  40. TallDave, the case you reference is a civil proceeding and mater which is where this federal case should have been relegated in my opinion. Dr. Wecht settled the civil case out of court. The settlement was for $200,000 and he did not admit guilt. To my knowledge, the civil case dealt with co-mingling funds of the county and his private practice (i.e. he kept bad books yet did not do so deliberately). There was no proven allegation of criminal wrongdoing since all counts were either dismissed or he was acquitted on. The author of the article does not mention this fact explicitly because he is writing a pro-Roddy article during the election of that time period.

    Anyhow, in the situation of Dr. Wecht in the 1980’s, he lost the civil trial and appealed the decision. While the appeal was in limbo, it is my understanding that the DA agreed to settle with Dr. Wecht in an agreement in which he paid $200,000 and Dr. Wecht did not admit any wrong doing.

    The issue I have been raising all morning has been related to the criminal court proceedings. Please read up there is a difference on criminal charges and civil charges. The argument you put forth earlier today is that Dr. Wecht is guilty of a criminal act today because he was acquitted on a claim of a similar criminal act in 1980s. Do you understand how flawed such a viewpoint is? I do not mean to be crass in my response here, I just want to be direct enough that you see the issue that you have raised initially.

    I do not mean to continue this discussion because I feel that my supplying you with information and source material has only resulted in you ignoring the material and attacking me personally since I provided an opinion that you do not agree with. I ask you simply read up on the current case and come away with an informed opinion on the case. For the record, the 1980 proceedings would not be admissible in a court of law during the present trial.

    If you truly feel that Dr. Wecht should be held criminally liable for using a county fax machine and sending out three packages which cost the taxpayers $1,600, then you are right to argue that he is guilty because this was what he was accused of in the end after the prosecution dismissed 43 out of the 84 counts Wecht was indicted on.

    In my viewpoint, this case is at most a civil matter that should have been settled out of court prior to wasting taxpayers money and investigative resources. However, if I am wrong, then I guess we will have to open up the jails more to send everyone that has used their employer’s fax machine for personal use to jail. I imagine there are not too too many people out there that do such.

  41. Also TallDave, Wikipedia is not a valid reference at all.

    Be thankful that Laurie Mylroie didn’t write about this case, or he’d link to her.

  42. There was no proven allegation of criminal wrongdoing since all counts were either dismissed or he was acquitted on. The author of the article does not mention this fact explicitly

    LOL Another misstatement of fact. They mention it quite clearly.

    Long saga short: In 1981, after a super-charged trial, Wecht was acquitted of theft of services, the only criminal charge that hadn’t already been dropped.

    Thea rgument you put forth earlier today is that Dr. Wecht is guilty of a criminal act today because he was acquitted on a claim of a similar criminal act in 1980s.

    Well, that’s a mighty strawman you’ve set up there, and you’ve given him a hell of a beating. I salute your martial prowess, sir.

    Frankly, at this point there’s no reason to believe any of your assertions.

  43. The settlement was for $200,000 and he did not admit guilt.

    That’s a lot of loot for a ethical civil servant to come up with. I guess he lucked out that all that public money accidentally ended up in his private account so he could pay the settlement.

  44. The indictment against Wecht is for sending faxes using a county fact machine, sending three packaged through the county office that were for his private practice, occasionally using a county car provided to him as coroner to visit his private clients, and trading unclaimed cadavers to a local forensic college prior to having them incinerated (which is an action he is allowed to do as county coroner).

    What, they couldn’t quite get an indictment on the Bic pen that he used at home?

  45. Ok, so I get a long stream of discussion between this James person and this TallDave guy. What I see is James keeps providing source material to articles in the local Pittsburgh papers that supports his facts he enters in his comments. From his comments, it appears he does not support the prosecution’s case against Dr. Wech. Not sure what this has to do with FBI agents intimidating jurors.

    In response, I read this TallDave guy bring up 9/11, Elliot Spitzer, Reverend Wright, and how all Republicans are never guilty of going after Democrats and vice versus.

    Then I read this guy TallDave push Wikipedia as a valid reference. This action is where I have to draw the line. As a college professor, I can not tell you how I am shocked people actually think Wikipedia is a valid source. It is not. If you reference it in the academic world, you will be laughed at and you will fail.

    Anything that is unvalidated such as Wikipedia is not a valid source. Just because you can link to a webpage full of someone’s rantes and allegations, does not mean it is a source. I read the link that TallDave said was a reference. No not the Wikipedia site, but the actual Post Gazette article. The article was a bias op-ed written by a local paper which included a comic drawing of Wech. It is not news coverage at all.

  46. Happy Jack, thanks for that. You are so right.

  47. Hey, I won my criminal case but lost my civil suit, so I must be innocent of all wrongdoing too, right?

    I wish those damn restaurants would give me a knife again.

  48. Then I read this guy TallDave push Wikipedia as a valid reference. This action is where I have to draw the line.

    I did not say it was a valid reference when unsupported. I said the material was drawn from valid supporting references, and I provided them.

    The article was a bias op-ed written by a local paper which included a comic drawing of Wech.

    And James provided two op-eds to support his case.

    What facts are actually in dispute here?

    Was Wecht ever accused of putting officially-garnered money in a private account, as James says he “never” was? YES.

  49. Paul, actually the way that some on the comment string have attempted to frame the 1980 case is not accurate. Wecht ran both a private practice and a public practice for the county. His staff and him sucked at keeping books and basically ended up having some expenses for the county roll into his private practice and some expenses for his private practice roll into his public practice. There was never any intent to defraud that could be proven.

    The civil matter and the appeal was over how much money spilled over between the two. In the end, Wecht gave $200,000 back to the county to resolve the errors in book keeping and he did not admit he criminally attempted to defraud the county. Wecht was not taking massive amounts of money from the public to go live on a beach with.

    The county then re-elected him over and over to the position of coroner, because I basically feel we were ok with a bad accountant being the county coroner. In return, Wecht took steps to employ accountants and what not to prevent the occurrence of errors in accounting happening again.

    This is why many in the Pittsburgh are have trouble with the case. The guy went through the ringer for screwy up his back office processes in the 1980’s. People all knew this. Does it really make sense that he would do it again now deliberately.

  50. http://www.thetartan.org/2006/1/30/news/wecht

    Wecht indicted for trading corpses with Carlow

    Cadavers now have bargaining power. Celebrity forensic specialist and Allegheny County medical examiner Cyril H. Wecht announced his resignation only hours after being indicted on January 20 for fraudulent activity and the alleged bartering of human bodies.

  51. Actually sir, the James individual provided links to two other Pittsburgh news sites. http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsburghtrib/news/specialreports/wecht/trial/
    http://www.thepittsburghchannel.com/Wecht/index.html

    Additionally, the argument that James has put forth is that an accusation of a criminal act is not in itself proof of guilt of a later criminal act.

  52. His staff and him sucked at keeping books and basically ended up having some expenses for the county roll into his private practice and some expenses for his private practice roll into his public practice.

    No, again you’re misstating the facts. He was performing private medical services at county facilities. The revenue from those services went to a private account. This is clearly an illegal use of public office to personally enrich himself.

    Does it really make sense that he would do it again now deliberately.

    Why not? He got away with it the first time without any serious consequences, and there are apparently people happy like you that are happy to lie for him.

    http://www.allbusiness.com/government/3513980-1.html

    The use of Allegheny County employees to perform his private business functions, including client contact, billing, analysis, courier service and transportation, while at the Coroner’s Office and on County time;
    * The use of an Allegheny County vehicle for transportation to surrounding counties, the Pittsburgh International Airport, and other locations for his private business activities;
    * The direction of Coroner’s Office employees to refer all calls for private autopsy business to Wecht’s private company;
    * The utilization of deputy coroner, secretarial, computer, telephone, facsimile, and other general office resources of the Allegheny County Coroner’s Office to further his private business ventures;

    He already had one public employee plead guilty to doing private business for his firm.

    None of us can claim to know how exactly how valid these charges are, but clearly the guy is shady.

  53. TallDave or should I call you OJ Simpson, glad you found the Carlow accusation, did not read the Pittsburgh coverage of the trial. The prosecution called the dean of Carlow to testify about these allegations in the indictment. Here is what she said from the papers:

    “I was just beside myself at the thought that that accusation would be made in an indictment, publicly in any way, when I had not been approached…,” Geibel (the Dean) said. “I had no knowledge whatsoever. None.”

    Geibel has repeatedly testified that no such deal was ever made.

    “It’s not a cadaver-for-lab space scheme, it’s an academic program?” defense attorney Jerry McDevitt(Wecht’ Lawyer Cross Examing) asked.

    “Absolutely,” Geibel responded.

    Link to article: http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsburghtrib/news/specialreports/wecht/trial/s_555841.html

    here are two other articles on the testimony:

    http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/08067/863171-85.stm
    http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsburghtrib/news/specialreports/wecht/trial/s_555975.html

    Later in the trial, the prosecution enter other witnesses that admitted to not claiming the bodies of their deceased kin then having an issue with how the county went about of disposing the unclaimed bodies. Yet none of this testimony proved anything that was claimed in the indictment.

  54. Actually sir, the James individual provided links to two other Pittsburgh news sites.

    He also cited two analysis pieces in a previous thread and claimed they were “news.”

    Additionally, the argument that James has put forth is that an accusation of a criminal act is not in itself proof of guilt of a later criminal act.

    And that’s a wonderful strawman, because obviously no one ever argued that it proved anything. My only argument was that the guy’s prior history isn’t exactly lily-white.

  55. TallDave, James from Pitt. —

    This is all quite fascinating, but what does it have to do with the jurors being instructed to shut up, or the curious FBI visits?

    That was what the article was about, no?

  56. The indictment also alleges that Wecht directed his private clients to pay him with two checks: one for payment of his fees, which he deposited in his corporate account; and a second, separate check for the fraudulent expense amounts, made payable to “Cyril H. Wecht, M.D., J.D.”, which he cashed and kept as “pocket money.” Finally, Wecht defrauded several counties surrounding Allegheny County for whom he performed private work. Although he drove an Allegheny County vehicle to these counties to perform his private work, he later submitted a mileage reimbursement request to the counties as if he drove his personal vehicle at his expense. He kept the reimbursement payments for himself without ever reimbursing Allegheny County.

    See, that sounds awfully similar to the behavior that a court (and the appeal) found him civilly liable for.

  57. Assertion by TallDave. “He was performing private medical services at county facilities.”

    Fact: He had a private practice office and facility in the same building for performing the private work. This office was paid for by Wecht out of his own money.

    Assertion by TallDave: “He already had one public employee plead guilty to doing private business for his firm.”

    George Hollis plead guilty to misusing county resources on his own accord. Hollis agreed to testify against Dr. Wecht on the allegations against Dr. Wecht in exchange for a deal from Ms. Buchanan. At the trial of Dr. Wecht, the prosecution refused to call George Hollis.

    As for what Mr. Hollis plead guilty to here is the information from the Post Gazette:

    “Mr. Hollis pleaded guilty to theft from an organization that receives federal funds, failure to file a tax return and making false statements.”

    Yeah, I can here the arguments for two counts, but how exactly is not filing his tax return beneficial to Wecht.

    Link: http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/07004/751134-85.stm

    Also, the Allegheny County was fully aware of the private practice operation of Dr. Wecht, besides the fact it was next to his coroner’s office in the same building. Wecht filed paperwork with the PA Government to have his private work excluded from the Allegheny doctrine you referenced when it was enacted. The PA Government refused his response, yet took no action against him because Wecht was paying all that worked for hsi private practice a salary out of his private business. There were some people in the coroner’s office that worked both for the county and Wecht’s private practice and they received two paychecks. One from the county and one form Wecht’s private practice.

    Yeah real shaddy.

  58. All in all, this guy is not a great choice for poster boy of “poor innocent persecuted Democrat being unfairly vilified by that mean partisan Bush admin with its screwed up priorities.”

    That’s the only point I’m making here. This guy had done bad things before, and there were some serious allegations here.

    Unlike, say, Tommmy Chong, who hadn’t done anything morally wrong.

  59. Fact: He had a private practice office and facility in the same building for performing the private work.

    Fact: The civil court found he had defrauded the county by using their facilities.

    George Hollis plead guilty to misusing county resources on his own accord.

    Yes, thank you for confirming what I wrote.

  60. Talldave, lets agree to disagree. I hope you take time to read the Pittsburgh papers coverage on the case opposed to Wikipedia.

    With that said, I want to point out some remaining facts:

    Dr. Wecht’s defense rested his case in the federal trial without entering a single piece of evidence or having a single witness testify

    The majority of the jurors in the Wecht trial has stated to the press they felt he was innocent of the charges and the case was politically motivated

    The conviction rate for a criminal count in federal court is 95%. Dr. Wecht had 41 counts against him and none resulted in a conviction.

  61. Talldave, lets agree to disagree. I hope you take time to read the Pittsburgh papers coverage on the case opposed to Wikipedia.

    Agreed. I hope you take the time to scroll down and read the Wiki sources before telling other people they’re uninformed, and learn the facts before making incorrect claims.

  62. TallDave, thanks for clearing that up. I personally do not think Wecht is being targeted because he is a Democrat. I think he is being targeted because he is a high profile individual similar to Tommy Chong. You got to admit, winning a case against Dr. Wecht would be a good move for Ms. Buchanan’s career.

    It should not prove that hard either, just bake up the same charges that were leveled a years ago, add in some spice about body trading which is in actuality a legal practice as county coroner yet the public won’t see it that way, find one or two other guys in the coroner’s office that are guilty of something so you can force them to say what you want….and you get a conviction.

    Wecht is no saint. In fact, I don’t know to many saints out there. I just don’t think he is going to go out of his way to steal $1,600 from the county when he makes over $1 million in billed revenue a year from his private practice.

  63. Stay down, TallDave! Stay Down!

    That boy guh KEEL you!

  64. TallDave, you have to admit, having the FBI contact the jurors opposed to a clerk or secretary sends a powerful message to a juror.

    I know Tom Ceraso and Tom Farrell both and they are decent guys. Tom Ceraso has been a federal defense attorney for years. He has the view of the defense team on this article, not the view of the inner workings of the local DOJ office.

    Tom Farrell on the other hand use to be in the local DOJ office. He knows how things run in the office and is now a critic of Ms. Buchanan having written one prominent letter to the editor that became an op-ed in the Post Gazette. His view is probably more in line with the truth.

    Who nows. It is not illegal to use the FBI in this way, it does seem to be odd though.

  65. “I hope you take the time to scroll down and read the Wiki sources before telling other people they’re uninformed, and learn the facts before making incorrect claims.”

    TallDave, for the record I read all the references months ago and did again today. I know the facts and am well versed in them if you can’t see by now.

    Let’s agree to disagree. You got Wiki and I got the papers, the trial transcripts that were reported on the blog, etc.

  66. Ok, I thought I would post something related to the topic. TPMuckracker just added more to the story about FBI agents going to the jurors homes. It appears former AG Dick Thornburgh thinks the move is unprecedented.

    http://tpmmuckraker.talkingpointsmemo.com/2008/04/fbi_agents_contacted_wecht_jur.php

    As a word of caution, Thornburgh is both a Republican and an attorney for Dr. Wecht. Talking Points Memo is a left leaning blog, yet it did break the Attorney Scandal.

  67. Some dude 1: that guy was never accused before of wrongdoing.

    Some dude 2: Yes he was here’s a link to what i wrote before that he was accused of some shit in the 80’s

    Some dude 1: well wiki not a link and he was never convicted and etc etc etc.

    [lots of mututal douchiness ensues]

    You know I got to give credit to some dude 1; “wecht has been accused of shit before” is a factually correct statement – what the ‘truth’ is still a frackin’ mystery to me due to all the bad faith in these things.

  68. That should be ‘credit to some dude 2 for the factually correct statement

  69. Radley, I saw the posting about someone warning you to watch the Tribune Review as a paper to reference. The poster is right about the Tribune having issues in the past and such. However, the articles by Jason Cato have always been accurate on the topic at hand. Cato is the one local court reporter that appears to be able to cover the stories from an impartial factually viewpoint. Lately, the Post Gazette has had to change their court reporters due to readership going to Cato because he is usually more timely and well versed in the subject matter.

  70. Kolohe – actually the some dude number 1 stated this:

    Right, and Wecht putting official fees into his personal accounts was just a “billing error.”

    That is not stating that Dr. Wecht is accused of a crime that is stating Dr. Wecht is guilty of a crime.

    Some dude number 1 – responds with where did you get that.

    Some dude number 2 says wikipedia

    Some dude number 1 – says wikipedia is not a source and here is what actually happen

    Some dude number 2 – rants about Elliot Spitzer, Wright, and OJ Simpson

    Some dude number 2 – starts posting all the allegations in an indictment

    some dude number 1 – says that an indictment/allegation is not evidence of a crime

    some dude number 2 – says the settlement of a civil case is evidence of a criminal crime

    at this point I give up on reading anymore

    In the end, some dude number 1 is actually right in the fact that some dude number 2 is wrong in stating that:

    “Wecht putting official fees into his personal accounts was just a “billing error.”

  71. Doug Harrison,

    Cato is good, and one of the editors, Bill Steigerwald (sp?) claims a libertarian decoder ring, but a lot of the rank-n-file doen’t have much choice in the matter.

    I know at least two people from my Pitt News days that went to the Trib and quit within a month because the editors were directed to insert a right-ward slant.

    Every pile of shit has the potential to contain a few flecks of gold.

  72. Taktix – I agree with your assessment. That is why I opt for the online read opposed to the subscription to the Trib. Cato is good and probably will go to a better paper in a few years. Maybe after the coverage of this trial. Who knows.

  73. TallDave, you have to admit, having the FBI contact the jurors opposed to a clerk or secretary sends a powerful message to a juror.

    No, I don’t have to agree. It depends entirely on what they asked. The U.S. Attorney seems to say it was just a timing issue in which it was easier to have the FBI talk to them rather than the U.S. Atty’s office. I don’t have any reason to doubt that.

    I don’t know to many saints out there. I just don’t think he is going to go out of his way to steal $1,600 from the county when he makes over $1 million in billed revenue a year from his private practice.

    You say $1,600. I bet prosecutors had a much bigger number.

    I’m from Chicago. I see corruption trials every single day here, and I know how hard they are to prove. We’ve had mob guys being chauffered around in city limos and packing their trunks with toll change. Most of them never get caught, and most who get caught aren’t convicted. So when I see our noble public officials being indicted, I don’t have a lot of sympathy, esp. when they cry politics, and most esp. when they have a prior history of defrauding the taxpayers.

    Being as I’ve never seen you here before, apparently you have some special interest in this case. Well, fine, you’re entitled to argue your defense of him, and I’m entitled to poke holes in it.

  74. These kinds of stories are like reading a crazy combination of Kafka and Pasternak. All these years I thought the extreme right wing hated the Communists because they loathed their tactics. Turns out they’ve been trying to adopt the whole system of government lock, stock and barrel.

    Hopefully, the “Permanent Republican Majority” that was Karl Rove’s wet dream is as dead as the Communist Party. Turns out Karl and his minions, including Mary Beth, are just like them. They want one party rule, no matter the cost – even at the price of burning the Constitution. Too bad they’re blinded by their ideology. Soviet Communists were exactly the same. They can’t see their faults – the ideology is too deeply ingrained.

  75. So here you go again.

    “I bet prosecutors had a much bigger number.”

    Actually, the prosecution was requested multiple times to provide a financial number behind the claims and could not. They were requested at the time of indictment, prior to trial, and even during the trial.

    Wecht’s lawyers provided a statistic that the prosecution did not object to.

    “I don’t have any reason to doubt that.”

    Unfortunately, many local politicians do. The head of the Republican Party in Allegheny County, Jim Roddy, says the case should be dismissed. As for the use of the FBI against, two US Representatives have already commented that such use seems to be to intimidate jurors and future jurors in the second case.

    Here’s a link:

    http://www.wpxi.com/news/15859327/detail.html
    http://www.philly.com/philly/wires/ap/news/state/pennsylvania/20080411_ap_defense2usrepscriticizefbicallstowechttrialjurors.html
    http://www.speaker.gov/blog/?p=1280

    Sorry to hear there are so many issues in Chicago, but please stop attempting to say the situation in Pittsburgh is like your situation in Chicago.

    Once again though, I ask that you read up on the case prior to giving an opinion. You would have read that the prosecution was unable to provide a financial number in the case.

    Well, you can continue to push you right wing viewpoints, and I will continue to push the facts with links to news stories and related coverage.

  76. Sending the FBI to go set up interviews with the jury is extreme. Sorry, but it is clearly overkill. I can not believe people are defending such a tactic. l guess some people have drank way too much of the Republican Kool-Aid, because the actions outlined in this article border an intimidation tactic that you would expect employed by the former Soviet Union, not the US Attorney’s office.

    Do people realize that the US Marshalls are the body that issue federal subpoenas not the FBI?

  77. Here is the head of the judiciary committee in the house response to the story:

    I am deeply troubled by reports of FBI agents contacting former jurors who failed to convict Dr. Wecht. Whether reckless or intended, it is simply common sense that such contacts can have a chilling effect on future juries in this and other cases. When added to the troubling conduct of this prosecution, there is the appearance of a win at all costs mentality. The committee continues to investigate this matter.

    http://www.speaker.gov/blog/?p=1280

  78. So this guy from Chicago is an expert about the Wecht case because he read Wikipedia….yeah, I am not buying it. Sorry, buddy. I can tell you have passion against political figures, but you just are not credible.

  79. Did you guys not read that the jurors told the press the majority of the jury felt the guy was innocent? I would have thought that not putting on a defense in a case such as this would have resulted in a conviction. I’m guessing this case was extremely week to have the result come back as it did.

  80. As a former federal prosecutor, I can tell you that using the FBI in this manner is very very odd. I can not ever remember such an occurrence happening to my knowledge. I do not believe it is illegal, yet I think that such use of the FBI is not recommended exactly for the concerns raised about intimidation of new future jurors.

  81. If the FBI was there to look into jury tampering, as you suggest, would the U.S. attorney’s office not correct the record by noting that? I assure you, there is no evidence of jury tampering here, only complete corruption and bias on the part of the judge, prosecutors, and FBI agents involved. This is what our justice system has become.

  82. So if I don’t convict someone, I can expect to have the FBI show up at my door. When did the US become a police state.

  83. “I’m entitled to poke holes in it.”

    Yeah dude, guess you did not notice that career prosecutors already attempted to do what you are doing here and the result was a hung jury that favored the defendent. The prosecutors had unlimited resources, spent four year investigating the guy, and came up nuts in the end, but you know better right.

    Seriously, if it was as simple as reading Wikipedia and a few articles to convict this guy, he would be guilty today. The fact that you can say the guy is guilty so quickly and a conviction was not obtained is a concern in itself.

  84. Hey Mary Beth Buchanan, it looks like you found a great juror to get you conviction. You should push to have TallDave on the next jury. He appears to believe whatever you say.

  85. “When a medical examiner can’t deposit official fees into his personal account and emebezzle money to his friends via a ghost payroll — well, if that’s wrong, I don’t want to be right.”

    Ah, buddy, A JURY FOUND THE GUY INNOCENT OF THESE CHARGES. An ALLEGATION OF A CRIMINAL ACTIVITY IS NOT IN ITSELF PROOF OF GUILT.

    Here is background on the case. In 1979, the county controller informed Dr. Wecht that he owed the county $100,000 for using the county morgue for his own private practice. Wecht countered and said that he did not. Because of refusing to cooperate with the controller and county, Wecht started a long drawn out battle with the county that sparked into criminal charges being filed.

    Of the multiple criminal charges brought against Wecht, all charges were dismissed except one. A jury acquitted him of this remaining charge. That means the jury found that the allegations were not proven. Wecht not proven to be embezzling funds and no one accused him of creating a ghost payroll. If he had created a ghost payroll, the case would have ended with a different result.

    After the criminal trial, the issue still stood that Wecht used county resources. Since a jury decided Wecht did not have criminal intent in the use of the resources, basically decided he did not intend to embezzle funds, the issue remained that Wecht still had to compensate the county for using county resources. In the subsequent civil proceedings, Wecht continued to argue over the amount he owed. A jury awarded the county an amount greater than estimate $100,000 first put forth. Wecht and his lawyers disagreed, so the appeals process began. In the end, the county settled out of court with Wecht prior to the appeal being decided. Wecht paid the county back $200,000 and admitted no guilt.

    Many know the case in the area and feel that the issue was created by Wecht and his staff’s poor book keeping and Wecht’s unwillingness to back down from a fight.

    When Wecht was voted back into the coroner’s office, the concern was raised about repeating this whole debacle again. Wecht and the County worked it out that he needed to pay all county employees a separate salary for any work they did. Wecht also kept an office next door to the county office that was fully outfitted to handle the private cases.

  86. “The U.S. Attorney seems to say it was just a timing issue in which it was easier to have the FBI talk to them rather than the U.S. Atty’s office. I don’t have any reason to doubt that.”

    Dude there are eleven jurors, one was dismissed due to illness, and two assistant US Attorneys heading up the case. That means that there are roughly six calls for each US Attorney on the case. Yeah, that is too much work for them.

    Also, the US Attorney did not say it was a timing issue. Here is her statement:

    “It is commonplace for the prosecuting attorneys and the investigating agency, in this case the FBI, to participate in the post-verdict discussion with the jurors,” Ms. Philbin said. “Often that occurs before the jury leaves the courthouse. In this case the jury was excused before the attorneys and agents had an opportunity to speak with the members.”

    You should google Brad Orsini the lead FBI investigator on this case. Really questionable background and tenure with the feds.

  87. These links send you to a local paper op-ed as well as letters to the editor on the case. It pretty much speaks to the predominant sentiment in Pittsburgh about this one.

    http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/08104/872531-149.stm
    http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/08104/872530-35.stm

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