Terry Mutchler Discusses DuBois Official’s Corruption Case in Spotlight PA
Terry Mutchler, Chair of Obermayer’s Transparency & Public Data Practice, was quoted in SpotlightPa on Wednesday, August 16, 2023, regarding the petition by four news organizations to a county judge to release a key document in the widely publicized corruption case against a suspended City of DuBois official accused of stealing more than $600,000 in taxpayer and nonprofit funds.
The news outlets, including Spotlight PA, are asking the judge who oversaw the grand jury investigation into Herm Suplizio to remove the unusual seal on the presentment in the case. That document, which details the basis for filing criminal charges, is still secret more than four months after the Office of Attorney General publicly announced theft and other charges against him.
Not only is Suplizio’s presentment shielded from public view, but so is the judge’s order sealing it. There is also no public-facing court docket that contains or lists the sealing order, which is also uncommon.
When the presentment’s sealing order itself can’t be located on court dockets, “It’s a whole new level of hiding the ball,” said Obermayer’s Terry Mutchler, who was also the first director of the state Office of Open Records.
Because there is no public-facing docket, the four news organizations were forced to contact the attorney general’s office about filing the motion to unseal Suplizio’s presentment. The office, in turn, filed that document under seal.