SHAMOKIN, NORTHUMBERLAND COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) — A former Shamokin City Council member has been warned by the district attorney to withdraw his petition for candidacy or face criminal charges.

According to Northumberland County D.A. Anthony Matulewicz, Joseph J. Leschinskie Jr. was a former council member for the City of Shamokin who was removed due to his two prior felony convictions for selling cocaine.

“Every elected official in Pennsylvania is required to take an oath swearing to support, defend, and obey the Constitution of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and exercise the duties of their office with fidelity. It is a violation of the Pennsylvania Constitution to hold office when previously convicted of a felony. This matter was already decided by the PA Supreme Court and (retired) President Judge Charles H. Saylor who ruled Mr. Leschinskie was ineligible to hold a seat on Shamokin City Council,” explained Matulewicz.

According to D.A. Matulewicz, he would be violating his oath of office by standing idly by while a person convicted of selling cocaine twice, ran for office again.

“He violated his oath of office the moment he swore to do the same in 2021. He violated his candidate affidavit when he swore to a notary that he was “eligible” for this or any office he is petitioning to be placed on the ballot in 2023. The District Attorney has an obligation to support, defend, and obey the constitution by removing a convicted drug dealing felon from office and if necessary, filing criminal charges for attempting to do the same after being ordered by the court ineligible. As the District Attorney, I will continue to support, defend and obey the Pennsylvania Constitution and any order of court,” Matulewicz continued.

Therefore, Leschinskie was served an official notification from the D.A.’s office notifying him that he had 10 days from the receipt of the letter to withdraw his petition of candidacy for a position on Shamokin’s City Council, filed on Tuesday, March 7.

Matulewicz says any candidate submitting a petition to run for public office must sign a notarized ‘Candidates Affidavit’ in which the petitioner must confirm they are eligible to hold office. And filing this petition, while knowing you’re ineligible to hold office, is a violation of ‘False Swearing’ as well as ‘Unsworn Falsification to Authorities’ and related criminal charges.

To prevent any charges from being filed against him, Leschinskie must withdraw his candidacy petition within the 10-day period previously indicated by D.A. Matulewicz.