The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

News

January 23, 2013

Clausi calls police on speaker

SUNBURY — A Shamokin man who made a series of accusations against and swore at Northumberland County Commissioner Vinny Clausi during Tuesday’s meeting of the commissioners could face disorderly conduct charges, police said.

Dave Kaleta, who had successfully sued the county and Commissioners Clausi and Stephen Bridy for the right to enter the county-owned Anthracite Outdoor Adventure Area, has frequently attended county meetings and has been critical about the county’s handling of the Outdoor Adventure Area. The commissioners have since banned the public from entering the area.

On Tuesday, Kaleta once again spoke about the land, then spoke a second time during the public segment of the meeting.

That’s when the fireworks went off.

Kaleta grilled Clausi with a series of questions about Clausi’s personal dealings with several county employees and made accusations about the commissioner’s character.

When Kaleta exceeded the two-minute time limit residents are allowed to speak, Clausi demanded the Shamokin man be removed from the meeting.

Kaleta refused to go and directed foul language at the commissioner.

“The only way you will get me out of here is in handcuffs,” he told county director of security Ron Yeager. “I’m not leaving.”

Clausi told Chief Clerk Gary Steffen to call police.

Kaleta continued questioning Clausi after he was informed police were en route, and he gathered his things and left before police arrived.

Sunbury police spoke with Clausi, Steffen and county solicitor Frank Garrigan about the matter, Clausi said.

“This is out of hand and this has been several times he has disrupted the meetings,” the commissioner said. “This will not happen anymore. Commissioner Rick Shoch brings all his cronies to these meetings, and this must stop.”

During the meeting, Shoch denied he had anything to do with Kaleta’s attendance.

Steffen said police were going to interview witnesses to determine if charges were warranted.

Following the meeting, Clausi issued a statement and said he was going to look at pursuing legal action against Kaleta and any media outlet that printed the allegations made against him.

Attorney Melissa Melewsky, of the Pennsylvania Newspaper Association, said media outlets could be risking lawsuits if they reported the allegations.

No charges were filed at deadline Tuesday, and Sunbury Police Chief Steve Mazzeo said the incident is under investigation.

n Email comments to fscarcella@dailyitem.com.

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