The public corruption trial for Westmoreland County Sheriff Jonathan Held has been pushed back several months.
Senior visiting Common Pleas Court Judge Timothy Creany on Thursday formally delayed the sheriff’s trial that had been set to start this month and rescheduled it to begin Dec. 3.
Held, 44, of Hempfield, was charged in February with two counts of theft and one offense of conflict of interest involving allegations that the two-term Republican sheriff forced deputies and staffers to perform campaign chores while on duty dating back to 2014. Held has denied the allegations.
Pam Neiderhiser, the county’s deputy court administrator, said Held’s defense attorney late last month submitted pretrial motions directly with the judge at his Cambria County office. Those motions as of Thursday afternoon had not been sent to Westmoreland County and placed in the court docket.
The state Supreme Court appointed Creany to preside over Held’s case after Westmoreland County criminal court judges recused themselves from hearing the case.
Defense lawyer Ryan Tutera did not return calls seeking comment about the sheriff’s pretrial motions.
Tutera has previously claimed the allegations against Held were concocted by disgruntled former and current employees. The defense has also challenged prosecutor’s contention that the theft allegations against Held should be graded as felony offenses, meaning they involved the thefts of more than $2,000 through the use of county equipment and personnel expenses.
A hearing set for Friday to hear pretrial motions was postponed. Pretrial hearings now will be held Sept. 25.
Rich Cholodofsky is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Rich at 724-830-6293 or [email protected]