Small Town Politics Under the Microscope

WAYNE COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) Three Honesdale councilmen faced trial on charges of violating the Sunshine Act --for reportedly talking about the borough police chief's job last year during a closed-door, executive session.
Eyewitness News reporter Eric Deabill  was in the Wayne County Courthouse in Honesdale when the verdict  came in

Three Honesdale borough councilmen left court Thursday without comment, minutes after a judge found them guilty of one charge at a summary trial.

The judge found the three lawmakers failed to properly notify borough police chief Rick Southerton that they planned to discuss his job during a closed-door executive session in October.

 
"It kind of confirms that what the borough tried to do is to utilize any method they can to get rid of Chief Southerton" said Ronald Bugaj, attorney for the Police Chief


During a two-hour summary trial, the councilman, Mike Dux, Mike Augello and Chris Murray tried to show they were just having a broad conversation about borough police issues.

Their attorney -- taking fault with the judge's decision.

 
"We just disagree with that analysis of that part of the statue." said Matthew Meagher, Attorney for Honesdale Councilmen.  He added they plan on appealing.

 


After the closed door, executive session last year, the three councilmen met with the police chief and asked him to resign.

The chief refused and is still on the job today.

 
"It just cries out for -- it just doesn't smell right" added Ronald Bugaj

Based on today's guilty verdict on the one count -- each of the Honesdale councilmen were fined $100

They have thirty days to decide if they will appeal

This is not the first time Honesdale borough council has been accused of violating Sunshine Act laws.

Several years ago -- different council members were convicted of the same charge but the decision was later overturned.


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