Commissioners pursue legal action to have housing official removed
This is the second person commissioners are trying to remove from the board.
By LAURE CIOFFI
VINDICATOR PENNSYLVANIA BUREAU
NEW CASTLE, Pa. -- County commissioners have gone to court to have Gary Felasco removed from the Lawrence County Housing Authority board of directors.
County Solicitor Tom Leslie appeared in common pleas court Monday asking Judge Tom Piccione to set a hearing for the county's request.
Leslie told the judge that he was filing a motion to ask Felasco to show why he shouldn't be removed from the county housing authority.
Felasco was notified of the hearing but did not attend. He could not be reached to comment.
Felasco received notice from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development in December that he was suspended from the Lawrence County Housing Authority board until the outcome of criminal charges of embezzlement, theft from office and other charges filed by the Pennsylvania attorney general's office. Felasco, the county's elected treasurer, is accused of taking more than $40,000 from tax payments made to his office.
Why this is necessary
Leslie said in court that the commissioners, who appoint housing authority members, have no authority to remove them outright, but there is a provision in the law that permits the court to remove an authority member after a hearing.
Piccione indicated he would schedule the hearing within the next 60 days.
Felasco's criminal trial is planned for the first week in May and will be held in Venango County after another judge granted the treasurer's request for a change of venue.
Commissioner Steve Craig said the commissioners decided to pursue court action because they feel it's important to have a person on the board who can vote.
Under his HUD suspension, Felasco cannot participate in any board activities that involve money. He has not attended a meeting since receiving the notice.
"I feel it's an important time in relation to the things going on with Affordable Housing and the president's proposed changes for HUD. It's important we have a member who is allowed to vote," Craig said.
Felasco is the second housing authority board member the county commissioners have gone to court to oust.
Last month they filed court papers to have Ducky Conti removed from the board. Conti pleaded guilty to gambling charges last month and is awaiting sentencing. A court hearing for his removal is slated for April 24.