Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Board Member Unanimously Censured Sought Legal Opinion on His Own

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Board Member Unanimously Censured Sought Legal Opinion on His Own

Article excerpt

South Fayette commissioners have voted to censure Commissioner Deron Gabriel for approaching the solicitor about municipal matters without the knowledge of the majority of the board.

The censure motion March 18 by Commissioner Jessica Cardillo- Wagenhoffer was approved by a 4-0 vote. Mr. Gabriel was absent.

Ms. Cardillo-Wagenhoffer said Mr. Gabriel sought an opinion regarding felony insurance fraud charges filed against her by the state attorney general's office in September 2014 and asked the solicitor's office for a legal opinion about plans for the Watson Institute.

"As far as I know, he asked the solicitor for an opinion," Ms. Cardillo-Wagenhoffer said, referring to a September 2014 published report about her insurance fraud charges. In it, Mr. Gabriel stated his intentions to seek the solicitor's advice regarding her need to resign from office.

"It's not about me, or my personal life. It's about the actions that have been taken without consent or approval of the board," she said of her censure motion, citing a cost to taxpayers as a main concern.

Mr. Gabriel said as a member of the board's legal committee, he believes it is his obligation to seek advice from the solicitor.

"Residents have come to me, and other commissioners, asking whether or not [Ms. Cardillo-Wagenhoffer] should have resigned," he said. "I don't think it was a secret to anyone that we wanted to know what the law was."

He also cited a section of the First Class Township Code, which in part states that a solicitor shall furnish the board with his opinion in writing when a question of the law is submitted by any member of the board in that member's official capacity.

Mr. Gabriel said he was acting in good faith for residents.

Board President Joseph Horowitz said he sought the solicitor's opinion in this matter as well.

Mr. Gabriel substantiated that he also sought the opinion of the solicitor regarding the property where the Watson Institute will be constructing a new building. …

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