• Mistrial declared in Westmoreland Co. sheriff's trial after juror questions verdict

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    GREENSBURG, Pa. - A mistrial was declared in Westmoreland County Sheriff Jonathan Held's public corruption trial after a bizarre scene played out on Friday afternoon when, moments after jurors found Held guilty, a juror told the judge he disagreed with the verdict.

    The jury foreman handed a slip to the judge, who read the jury's findings as a unanimous guilty verdict on two counts of theft and one count of conflict of interest. The judge then polled jurors individually to ensure they agreed with the verdict, and one of them answered that he did not.

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    The judge called attorneys up to the bench, then ordered the jury to resume deliberations. Held's attorney, Ryan Tutera, told Channel 11's Rick Earle that he thought the judge should have declared a mistrial in the case, in which Held was accused of ordering employees to do work for his re-election campaign on county time.

    The judge later called the jury back after about a half hour and declared a mistrial.

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    Earlier in the day, during closing arguments, prosecutors said the evidence was clear.

    Deputy Attorney General Bobbi Jo Wagner told the jury that Held betrayed the public trust.  

    “He took advantage of his staff and the resources of his office to win the election.  Every single dollar represents your tax dollars. The only way he will ever be held accountable is through your verdict.  Find him guilty," Wagner said.


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    Held’s attorney blasted the prosecution, claiming that the case was built on lies.

    “The entire case hinges on the lies these deputies told.  It was not campaign work, but community outreach. Jon Held is a good man. He’s not a thief. He’s not a criminal. He’s not a crook. Find him not guilty,” said Ryan Tutera. 

    The trial began Monday. Several members of the department have testified about tasks they had been asked to perform for Held's re-election campaign.

    Held's defense team rested Thursday, without calling witnesses or submitting any evidence.


     

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