Attorney General: Beaver Co. sheriff threatened to 'blow reporter's brains out'

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BEAVER COUNTY, Pa. - State police arrested Beaver County Sheriff George David on Monday on 11 misdemeanor charges including terroristic threats, simple assault, official oppression and intimidation of witnesses.

A state grand jury investigated David, 65, of Hopewell, for several months after John Paul Vranesevich, the owner and operator of the Beaver Countian website, said David threatened him with a gun during a heated conversation in front of two sheriff's deputies last April.

State police last April began investigating Vranesevich's claim that David threatened him in David's office at the county courthouse.

According to the grand jury presentment, David met with Vranesevich to discuss reports about purchasing contracts for uniforms and equipment.

The documents said that during a two-hour meeting, David became increasingly agitated and profane, at one point taking his service revolver from his holster. The sheriff said that if Vranesevich started writing about the uniform contracts as another report had, that, "I'll blow your (expletive) brains out, too."

Two deputies, Thomas Ochs and Michael Tibolet, witnessed the conversation, the documents say, and David intimidated them not to report truthfully what had happened.

After the meeting, Paul filed a complaint with state police claiming David threatened him, David’s attorney, Myron Sainovich, said.

“There were no threats,” said Sainovich. “Nothing was done to make him feel threatened,” he said at the time the complaint was filed.

In another incident in November 2011, according to the documents, campaign worker Daniel Fleishman sought to shake hands with David at an event and was told, “I heard you talk about me. Shake my hand, I'll cut your (expletive) hands off and I'll eat them.”

Sainovich denied David threatened to eat the man's hands.

“It’s not enough for law enforcement officers to simply abide by the law. They must also set a good example for others,” said Attorney General Kathleen Kane. “Sheriff David failed on both counts. He will be prosecuted to the full extent of the law.”

David was arraigned before District Judge Tim Finn and released on $50,000 unsecured bond.

“He’s hurt and he’s upset wondering why all these people are making false allegations against him,” Sainovich said.

As he left, David told Channel 11’s Amy Marcinkiewicz that he was “going back to work.”

“Nothing gets me down. I’m going to keep going to work. I got voted in and I will continue to work,” David said. “I want to continue working. The citizens of Beaver County voted me in and I’m working until this matter is completely resolved.”

The judge forbade him from carrying a firearm, but he is not barred from the Beaver County Courthouse.

“I believe that he shouldn’t be allowed to have a firearm and I believe he should be banned from the courthouse until this is settled,” State Police Corporal Joe Olayer said.

David faces a preliminary hearing Monday.

Channel 11's news exchange partners at TribLIVE contributed to this report.