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Spotlight PA is fighting to unseal a major corruption case

Plus, political operative with Philadelphia ties charged alongside Trump.

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Sealed records, Trump indictment, plastic bags, Chester litigation, house explosion, and the decline of a Pittsburgh incline. Welcome to Wednesday.

Spotlight PA is joining with three other news organizations to fight for records related to a high-profile corruption case in the City of DuBois.

The city's now-suspended manager, Herm Suplizio, was arrested in March and charged with stealing more than $600,000 from DuBois, the DuBois Fire Department, and the DuBois Area United Way over the course of nearly a decade. 

But unusually, a key document in the case remains secret. The presentment, which would detail why the charges were filed, is under seal. 

Lawyers for Spotlight PA, LNP | LancasterOnline, WITF, and WESA are now petitioning the county judge who oversaw the grand jury in Suplizio's case to unseal the presentment, arguing that the law presumes public access in this situation. 

Read Spotlight PA’s full report: Spotlight PA seeks to unseal key document in DuBois official’s corruption case

THE CONTEXT: For months, Spotlight PA has been reporting on the corruption saga that has shaken DuBois, a small city about two hours northeast of Pittsburgh.

Before his arrest, Suplizio had been one of DuBois' most prominent politicians. Three years ago, he was hand-picked to replace the retiring Republican state Senate president pro tempore — though his bid for the seat ultimately failed.

Suplizio's case, and its murky details, have had real implications for DuBois. In June, neighboring Sandy Township sought to pause its voter-approved consolidation with the scandal-ridden city.


"There were no sirens, no evacuation notice. Everyone who evacuated left on their own because it got so bad and they didn't have a choice."

—Eric Zimmerman, a Hanover native who now lives in Maui, and who the York Daily Record reports was one of the many people on the island forced to abandon his home during catastrophic wildfires

Support Spotlight PA's independent, nonpartisan journalism for Pennsylvania and for a limited time, your gift will be DOUBLED.
We've been challenged to raise $25,000 by 11:59 p.m. Saturday to unlock a HUGE $25,000 matching gift. That means your contribution will be DOUBLED. Help sustain Spotlight PA's vital reporting for the remainder of 2023 now.

Thank you to the roughly 316 people who have given so far, including Christine B., who said, "Too much dirt is swept under the rug in PA. You help clean things up!" Join Christine and make a tax-deductible gift in support of Spotlight PA now. »
» GOP state Rep. Rob Mercuri is running for Congress against incumbent Democrat Chris Deluzio in a suburban Pittsburgh district, via @StephenJ_Caruso.

» A study of fracking’s links to health issues will be released by Pennsylvania researchers, via AP.
» Pa. will receive $172 million in federal funding for electric vehicle charging projects in the next five years, via 6ABC.

» Health care providers tell lawmakers more out-of-state patients are seeking abortions in Pennsylvania, via Capital-Star.

The Dobbin House, now the oldest building in Gettysburg, Adams County, courtesy of Don N. Send us your photos by email, use #PAGems on Instagram, or tag us @spotlightpennsylvania.

Today's top news story in Pennsylvania. TRUMP INDICTMENT: Mike Roman, a political operative with roots in Philadelphia, is one of 18 aides and allies that a Georgia grand jury has charged with assisting former President Donald Trump's attempt to overturn the 2020 election. The Philadelphia Inquirer (paywall) writes that Roman oversaw Trump's 2020 Election Day operations, and was key in Trump's strategy of organizing slates of "fake electors."

Today's second top news story in Pennsylvania.BAG BAN: Supervisors in Lancaster Township have voted to ban single-use plastic bags. LNP (paywall) reports that the township is the first in Lancaster County to enact such an ordinance. Beginning in January, businesses can either charge a fee for paper bags, or provide them for free. Plastic bag bans are slowly growing in popularity across Pennsylvania after the legislature's moratorium on the practice expired in 2021.

Today's third top news story in Pennsylvania.PRISON METHADONE: York County Prison aims to soon offer methadone to incarcerated people with opioid use disorder. According to the York Dispatch (paywall), the Prison Board of Inspectors approved the move this week, pending solicitor review. The change comes after a York County Prison inmate died of an overdose in March. Hundreds of thousands of people nationwide use methadone as part of addiction treatment.

Today's fourth top news story in Pennsylvania.PENSION TENSION: The bankrupt city of Chester is playing "bait and switch" by declining to pay more than a half million dollars in legal fees to a group of retirees, according to the retirees' lawyers. The attorneys argue this creates an uneven legal playing field for the retirees, who are suing because their payments may be cut when the city emerges from its bankruptcy, The Inquirer (paywall) reports.

Today's fifth top news story in Pennsylvania.HOUSE EXPLOSION: Fire officials are still investigating a deadly home explosion in Allegheny County this weekend. But USA Today reports they offered an update on Monday, saying the homeowners had been having "hot water tank issues." Five people, including a child, were killed in the explosion Saturday, and it left several nearby houses damaged. Officials say they're also investigating other possible causes.
Support Spotlight PA's investigative journalism for Pennsylvania and for a limited time, your gift will be DOUBLED.

INCLINE DECLINE: The Monongahela Incline is shut down indefinitely due to a technical issue. The funicular has transported passengers in Pittsburgh's Mount Washington for 153 years.

UNION DUES: Temple University will start negotiating a new contract with its faculty this week. The union previously declined to extend its current contract. 

FUTURE FARMING: A pair of Tioga County sisters are trying to reduce their farm's environmental impact while also making it economically viable. 

VIVA MEDIA: The Little League team from Media (a town in the Philly suburbs) competes today in the league's World Series

ADMISSION DECISION: Following a major SCOTUS ruling, the Biden administration has issued new guidance on college admission diversity.

Unscramble and send your answer to scrambler@spotlightpa.org. We'll shout out winners here, and one each week will get some Spotlight PA swag. Answers submitted by 5:30 p.m. on issue date will be counted.
E P I T C C O C A  

Yesterday's answer: Actuarially

Congrats to our daily winners: Stanley J., Kim C., Tom M., Cameron T., Doug W., Daniel S., Christopher H., David W., Stacy S., Susan N., Wendy A., Dennis M., James B., Kimberly D., Tracy S., Don H., Becky C., John E., and Jon W.
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PO Box 11728
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