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Wayne Independent - Honesdale, PA
  • DA has chance to step up for the taxpayers

  • It's not every day that a government body votes to have itself investigated.
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  • It's not every day that a government body votes to have itself investigated.
    But that's exactly what took place Wednesday at Honesdale Borough Hall.
    The council voted 5-1 to ask Wayne County District Attorney Janine Edwards to probe an incident which happened involving altered loan documents which were handled by the borough.
    (You can read our complete story on the front page of today's newspaper.)
    The issue has been discussed extensively at recent meetings of the council.
    On Wednesday, a formal motion was made asking the DA to look into the matter and refer it to the Pennsylvania Office of the Attorney General and the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
    That is powerful.
    Councilman Bob Jennings called the issue a "serious matter."
    He says loan documents were altered without the knowledge of most members of the council. Councilman Harry DeVrieze and councilwoman Juanita Pisano both said they had no knowledge of the documents being changed until after the fact.
    Councilman Scott Smith on Wednesday admitted he altered the documents but said it was without malice and he couldn't understand why a probe by law enforcement officials was being sought.
    Interestingly, only Smith voted against the motion. Five members voted to request an inquiry by the district attorney.
    That vote in itself is quite powerful.
    It would be one thing if it were a split vote and there was the appearance of vendetta or something personal.
    But when you have a big majority ask for the investigation, that is a statement.
    In fact, Smith should have probably abstained or even voted yes since he said there was no malice. If there is nothing there, it makes no sense to vote against the motion.
    Now, the ball is squarely in the hands of District Attorney Janine Edwards.
    Honesdale Borough Solicitor Rich Henry said he wanted a personal meeting with Edwards as soon as possible. Henry indicated he thinks the matter should be turned over to state and federal authorities for investigation.
    Hopefully, Edwards will see it the same way and the matter can move forward.
    The truth is, this is a serious matter. Altering official documents is clearly against the law.
    In this case, those official documents involved the state of Pennsylvania and, most importantly, tax money provided by residents. Sure, the loan is actually part of a major grant, however, that money still has to come from somewhere and it comes out of the pockets of the taxpayers.
    How Edwards will proceed in this matter remains to be seen. In the past, she has been hesitant to take on cases of this nature which involve questions about local officials.
    Page 2 of 2 - But her role is the lead law enforcement officer in the county and if there is any possibility a law or laws were broken, it is her duty to follow the wishes of the council. Not only is it a legal duty, it is also a moral duty in looking out for the best interests of the taxpayers.
    Just last week, Edwards rose up and assisted in a case against her own brother. She essentially reported an alleged crime he had committed.
    That was very commendable and should be recognized as such.
    Now, she has the chance to step up once again and be an advocate for the taxpayers of the state of Pennsylvania, which includes the residents of Wayne County.
    It would be in her best interest to do just that, not to mention the interests of the people who work hard and pay taxes in this state.
    We shall see what happens.
     
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