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Newsrooms seek access in DuBois corruption case

Plus: DuBois City Council plans to negotiate buyout for suspended city manager Suplizio.

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This is Talk of the Town, a free weekly newsletter delivering top news from State College and the surrounding region.

August 17, 2023
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Inside this edition: Spotlight PA asks judge to unseal grand jury presentment in case against Herm Suplizio, State College officials explain use of eminent domain in taking popular downtown businesses, and change proposed to State Police funding.
Min Xian / Spotlight PA

Real quick: Together with three partner newsrooms, Spotlight PA has asked a judge to release the grand jury presentment in the case against Herm Suplizio, the suspended DuBois city manager.

A little more: Four news organizations have petitioned 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.

Since then, the office, led by Attorney General Michelle Henry, has refused to disclose who sought the sealing or discuss the basis for it. When asked that question again this week, a spokesperson for the office would not answer it directly.

Instead, in a statement Tuesday afternoon, spokesperson Brett Hambright said: “The Office of Attorney General is only permitted to release grand jury documents, such as a presentment, when the supervising judge has issued an order specifically authorizing public disclosure.”

Hambright did not elaborate.

Lawyers for the news organizations — which also include LNP | LancasterOnline, WITF, and WESA — argue that the law that governs grand juries presumes public access to presentments unless a judge requests secrecy until “the defendant is in custody or has been released pending trial.”

Suplizio was arrested and charged March 20, and a news release from the attorney general’s office announcing the charges was made public the same day.

The full story: Read more here.

“We totally understand that the State Police need to be funded, but our premise has been that funding the State Police out of Motor License Fund has a trade-off cost — it’s less road and bridge projects, it’s less construction projects.”

—Jason Wagner, managing director of the Pennsylvania Highway Information Association, told Spotlight PA. A plan to stop the diversion of those funds could be part of this year’s state budget.
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» MISSED CONDUCT: Join us Thursday, Aug. 31 from 6-7 p.m. on Zoom for a free panel discussion on Penn State’s post-Sandusky misconduct policies, transparency in higher education, and how universities can keep students and employees safe. Register for the event here and submit your questions to events@spotlightpa.org

» A plan to stop diverting road dollars to Pa. State Police could be a final piece of this year’s budget

» How a recent court ruling could put the brakes on water and sewer privatization in Pennsylvania
A waterfall in Tioga State Forest via Mike Glass.

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» CDT: Council members explain use of eminent domain in State College
» Courier Express: DuBois City Council to negotiate Suplizio buyout
» SC: PennDOT releases final study for State College connector project
» WPSU: Pennsylvanians notified of Child Care Works system data breach
» CDT: Merger of PSU law schools set to reduce faculty, staff
» Mirror: Hollidaysburg Water Authority rejects mining on borough land
» NCPA: Everything to know about visiting the Little League World Series
Support Spotlight PA's independent, nonpartisan journalism and for a limited time, your gift will be DOUBLED.
Want us to list your event? Send it to us.

» Aug. 17-19: The 68th Tioga Old Home Days features basketball and cornhole tournaments, fireworks, a beer tent, live music, and more.

» Aug. 18-20: Browse arts and crafts vendors at Summer Fest on the Lake at Lakemont Park.

» Aug. 18-26: Experience “the best days of summer” at the Centre County Grange Fair.

» Aug. 20-26: Check out the Williamsburg Community Farm Show, Blair County’s largest fair.

» Through Aug. 27: Williamsport hosts the Little League World Series.
An anagram is a word, phrase, or name formed by rearranging the letters of another. For example, “spotlight” also forms “stoplight.”

Decode the anagram and send your answer to talkofthetown@spotlightpa.org. We’ll shout out winners here, and one each week will get some Spotlight PA State College swag.

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Last week’s answer: Friend

Congrats to Susan N., who will receive Spotlight PA State College swag. Others who answered correctly: Elizabeth B., Don H., Leslie B., Coache, and Leann T.
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