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Ex-jury commissioner charged by state

February 6, 2014 News Extra

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A former Butler County jury commissioner faces criminal charges for allegedly interfering with juror selection.

Jon Galante, 29, of Butler Township faces four counts of interfering with the selection of jurors, which is a second degree misdemeanor.

The state attorney general’s office on Wednesday filed the charges at the office of District Judge Pete Shaffer.

Galante, who faces a March 3 hearing before Shaffer, could not be reached for comment.

No charges were filed against the other former jury commissioner, Clinton Bonetti.

The charges were based in part on a Nov. 22 interview that attorney general’s office investigators had with Galante.

According to affidavit, Galante admitted he specifically selected three county officials and a Connoquenessing Township resident on Sept. 30 to be sent jury candidate questionnaires.

Of the four men, Commissioner Bill McCarrier and township resident Mark Krenitsky, who publicly supported the abolishment of the part-time jury commissioner posts, subsequently received summons for jury duty.

Both men were excused from service.

Commissioner Dale Pinkerton and county solicitor Mike English also received questionnaires.

McCarrier and Pinkerton outvoted Commissioner Jim Eckstein in May 2013 to cut the part-time jury commissioner posts after English advised them the action was legal.

The affidavit states Galante told state investigators that his actions, which eliminated the randomness of the jury pool selection process, were done to prove a point.

According to the affidavit, “He stated that he ‘wanted to show them that it could be done.’ Jon Galante told these agents that he was ‘trying to show them anybody could screw with the system.’”

Galante and Bonetti last year argued against the elimination of their jobs, saying the potential existed for tainting of jury pools without independent elected officials oversight.

The affidavit states Galante also wanted to show Krenitsky that jury commissioners did more than stuff envelopes, referring to comments made by Krenitsky.

After the county officials discovered they each received the questionnaires the same day, court administration was notified.

The state attorney general’s office was contacted.

When McCarrier and Pinkerton abolished the jury commissioner posts, they cited cost savings.

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