Community Matters Closes the Chapter on Police Investigation but Tredyffrin Supervisor Opens a New Chapter

Is it time to close the chapter on the Police Department investigation?  

When I first read about two police officers not showing up at a criminal hearing in Tredyffrin, I admit I had many questions, which only increased as I learned more of the people and circumstances surrounding the situation.  The case may have gone by unnoticed were it not for the fact that the individual arrested in this case was Suzy Pratowski, a township Zoning Hearing Board member and socially linked to a township supervisor John DiBuonaventuro.  In the last few days, we learned that Pratowski had an arrest in June 2010, charged with DUI and child endangerment.  For the record, the child endangerment charge was dropped and although she plead guilty to the DUI.

Many of us had questions about this case, including why was the Pratowski case was moved from Judge Sondergaard’s (D) court to Judge Tartaglio’s (R) court.  Pratowski, until May of 2012 served as a local GOP committeewoman and the change of courts suggested political motives.  Why was this case continued from July to August … the continuance making it more difficult to understand why the two police officers did not show at the August hearing.  Without the police officers in attendance at the August 21 hearing, the Judge decided a ‘not guilty’ decision for Pratowski, case closed.  Why and how could this have happened?

In trying to come up with some answers, I did not set out to do my own investigation.  However, after the last three days, I am feeling like a cross between a freshman law clerk and a Lt. Colombo.  In the course of 72 hours, I have had extended phone conversations with Chester County District Attorney Tom Hogan and Tredyffrin Township Board of Supervisors Chair Michelle Kichline and thorough discussions with District Court Judge Tom Tartaglio and Tredyffrin Police Superintendent Andy Giaimo.  Previously, I have shared my discussion with Hogan on Community Matters.

My next conversation occurred with Ms. Kichline. I learned that in addition to a review of the internal police investigation by the District Attorney’s office, she had personally conducted her own review.  Like many of us, Kichline questioned how it could happen that township police officers did not show up for a hearing, etc.  Although certainly not pleased with the situation, Kichline (like Hogan) was satisfied that the ‘clerical error’ or more correctly, the human error rested solely with the two police officers.  Appreciating that there was a perception in the public, me included, that there must be more to this story, Kichline suggested that if I had further questions or needed information regarding how the police receive court notifications, that Police Chief Supt. Giaimo would be happy to discuss it.

Police Chief Supt. Giaimo generously changed his schedule to meet with me yesterday.  Before going to the police department, I went to the District Court to ask for copies of any public documents surrounding this case.  In the process of explaining my request to the clerk, Judge Tartaglio thought he heard my voice, and came to the front lobby to talk with me.  Having read some of the misinformation in comments on Community Matters, Judge Tartaglio truly wanted me to understand the facts from the District Court side.  An unexpected opportunity for me, I found Tartaglio open and honest in his responses.  We had a lengthy 30 min conversation and I received copies of public documents in the three Pratowski cases (two criminal and one non-criminal).  I will highlight some of the misconceptions that some of us may have had surrounding the case.

First off, the Pratowski hearing was originally scheduled for Judge Sondergaard’s court.  At the request of Judge Sondergaard, the case was transferred out of her court (not at the request of Pratowski).  Stated reason for the transfer by Sondergaard – she knows the plaintiff.   As a point of clarification, when a Judge requests the transfer of a case, the request is sent to the County and they decide the disposition of the hearing.  It is not a given that cases are transferred between Sondergaard and Tartaglio although because of geography, the county generally tries to keep the cases convenient for those involved.

Next point, how does the Police Department receive notifications of hearings from the District Court? Each day, either a Tredyffrin police officer or a Police Department employee, physically comes to the District Court and picks up the communications.  Notifications are not mailed to the Police Department. (I will explain the Police Department handling of the District Court mail shortly).

Much discussion on Community Matters stemmed from what happened on the August 21 court date.  Who was at the hearing and who was not at Pratowski’s hearing.  There were six people expected to be at the hearing, the two police officers (Allen Dori and Dan McFadden) Pratowski and her attorney, Vince DiFabio, Pratowski’s ex-husband Jay Ciccarone and a witness.  The ‘witness’ was something new I learned from Judge Tartaglio … the witness was a neighbor of Ciccarone who saw Pratowski pull the flowers from Ciccarone’s property and gave a statement to the police.  To this point, I was not aware of a witness.  Ciccarone was claiming $200 in damages for the landscaping, which is why he would have needed to attend the hearing.  Pratowski, DiFabio and the witness (I have his name but don’t feel it’s necessary to name him) showed up but Ciccarone, Dori and McFadden did not show-up.  I later learned from Supt. Giaimo that criminal cases are typically scheduled for Fridays – this hearing was a Tuesday, which caused some confusion for the police officers, and apparently also for Ciccarone.

Judge Tartaglio showed me the courtroom and a typical schedule for hearings – yesterday there were 7 or 8 cases all scheduled for 9 AM.  He explained that everyone scheduled for that time shows up at the same time, some cases are very quick, such as granting a continuance, and they can go quickly through the list.  Sometimes people don’t show up and cases are dismissed.  In the Pratowski hearing, why wasn’t the case dismissed rather than a not guilty verdict.  Judge Tartaglio explained that it was his prerogative to make that decision.  We discussed that the plaintiff was paying her attorney to attend this hearing and the witness had to take time off from work to attend, was it fair that they should have to go through this again. There was no evidence presented in the case because the prosecution did not attend — Judge Tartaglio stands behind his decision of ‘not guilty’.

I asked about why didn’t someone call the police department and Judge Tartaglio’s response was that typically it is the police officers who call in to the court when they are running late, explaining that they are delayed due an emergency, etc. and the Judge is willing to wait, when required.

My overall takeaway from my visit to the District Court and discussion with Judge Tartaglio – an organized, well-managed office with a Judge that is forthcoming, honest and committed to doing a good job.  He wanted me to mention that if he had an emergency, the two police officers he would want helping would be Dori and McFadden!  I want to publicly thank Judge Tartaglio for his time and willingness to explain the court procedure.  I think he believed that if I understood the process, I could explain it correctly on Community Matters.

Leaving the District Court, I went to the Tredyffrin Township Police Department to meet with Police Supt. Tony Giaimo.  I described my previous conversations with DA Hogan, BOS chair Kichline and District Judge Tartaglio, and that all roads came back to the police department.  I offered that as a result of this particular situation, there is a negative perception of the Police Department by some, and that many residesnts are concerned that we do not have the full story.  Supt. Giaimo understood my concerns and was completely open and willing to explain the process, including what went wrong and how the process has been corrected.  Again, I will offer the highlights of our hour discussion.  First off, has this situation ever occurred where a police officer(s) did not show up a public hearing?  Since becoming police chief nine months ago, the answer is no.  Before that point, I did not think it fair to expect Supt. Giaimo to know when or how often something similar had occurred.  It is important to note that it had not previously happened under his watch.  Giaimo did offer that there could be a situation where a police officer was unavailable to attend due to an emergency, etc. and that a replacement may have to go.  Fair enough, he further stated that had he known that the police officers were not going to the Pratowski hearing, he himself would have attended.

Were the police officers notified of the August 21 hearing date?  Yes, the hearing continuance was received by the Police Department, the information correctly entered at the front office and the original notifications put in the police officers box.  Here was a problem, at least one of the officers had a full mailbox and the notice was buried in the paperwork.   I asked and was told, that the internal Police Department does not have a computerized master calendar.  I suggested to Supt. Giaimo that perhaps the system needed to change and automate.

The police officers do not have BlackBerrys (or anything similar), they transfer the hearing notifications into their daily planners.  According to Giaimo, unfortunately, neither police officer had the August 21 date in their daily planners.  I told him that it would be a lot easier to believe this human error, if it was one rookie cop involved rather than two seasoned career police officers, he agreed.

On to the investigation and review by the Police Department – I learned that the department has an Internal Affairs Officer who conducted the investigation. The report was reviewed by the District Attorney’s office and by BOS Chair Kichline.  Because of his association with Pratowski, BOS supervisor John DiBuonaventuro was interviewed; an entire page of questions were asked.  The investigation concluded that the supervisor was not involved.

Something that Supt. Giaimo volunteered which I found interesting … Giaimo’s immediate thought when he found out that the police officers had missed the Pratowski hearing was that the Police Department would re-file the case.  However, he quickly learned that due to Judge Tartaglio’s ‘not guilty’ verdict rather than a dismissal, the Pratowski case was closed and the option to re-file the case was no longer available.

Bottom line, not one but two police officers failed to show for this August 21 hearing, the day following their attendance at the Board of Supervisors meeting marking their promotions. Unfortunately, that is what happened, so were the officers reprimanded.  Yes, Supt. Giaimo explained that both received written reprimands and the permanent personnel files of the two police officers contain this information.  This was an important turning point for me … there is no way that I think that these two officers were influenced by a third-party not to show up at this hearing.  It would not be worth the price tag of a permanent blemish on their records to ‘help out’ or ‘do a favor’ .

Where does the Police Department go from here?  I told Supt. Giaimo that this unfortunate situation is more than just about two police officers making a mistake … it becomes a dark cloud for the Police Department.  He fully appreciates the seriousness of the situation and the public perception – if I was a betting person, I am about 100% positive that this situation will never occur again.  I asked what changes have been implemented internally to the system to lessen the chances of a repeat performance.  Supt. Giaimo  responded that he immediately added additional safeguards to the process.  Prior to the August 21 hearing, there were three steps in the process – (1) Log in of all District Court notices by Police Department personnel, (2) Clerk then enters notices in Share Point and (3) Paper copy of notices put in to appropriate officer’s mailboxes.  Two additional steps are now in place – (4) Hearing notices are read out loud daily at the beginning of each shift change and (5) Police Department supervisors review daily the time schedules of all their officers.  The additional steps should guarantee that this type of situation does not occur again.

In closing, I am completely satisfied that this was a case, unfortunately of human error; — a situation complicated by the fact that the individual involved was a public official (a member of the Zoning Hearing Board) and that there were two officers involved versus one.  In the end, it was a mistake and I know one that will not be repeated.

I am grateful to Supt. Tony Giaimo, District Judge Tom Tartaglio, BOS chair Michelle Kichline and District Attorney Tom Hogan for their candor, openness and honesty.  Each of them supported my effort to find answers and understood the importance of the public’s right to know the facts.  Answers to the questions were provided with the complete understanding and support that the information would be shared on Community Matters.

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I hope that all who read the above narrative, come away with a positive feeling about these four individuals (Tom Hogan, Michelle Kichline, Tom Tartaglio and Tony Giaimo) and the parts of our local government that they represent – I believe that these individuals respect the citizens of Tredyffrin and are trying to do ‘what’s right’ by us.

Unfortunately, as I was completing this exhaustive summary, I was told of an open letter to the citizens, penned by BOS supervisor John DiBuonaventuro.  Apparently, DiBuonaventuro does not support Main Line Media News, Community Matters or the civil rights of citizens to express their opinions on this topic.  Below is the last paragraph of DiBuonaventuro’s letter, click here for the full text. The tag line for Community Matters is “Your Voice Matters, Join the Conversation” and I stand behind it … we, as the community do matter and your voice does count!

“I strongly believe in “freedom of speech,” but not in “freedom of defamation.” I believe the “Community Matters” blog began with good intent, but it has, for whatever personal reasons and misguidance, mestastasized into a channel of direct personal attacks on individuals in public service and/or its entities.  Almost all who have participated in those unsubstantiated allegations, criticisms, and false accusations remain cowardly anonymous.  I also question if they would have the fortitude and stamina to engage in a one-on-one campaign for elected office let alone serve in a position with little or not pay, full responsibility for the health, safety and welfare of the citizens they serve, and which appears to offer nothing more than continuous ridicule in return.

I have closed the chapter on the police investigation but it looks like Supervisor John DiBuonaventuro has opened a new chapter.  I am saddened that supervisor DiBuonaventuro has taken such a negative view of me, Community Matters and of those citizens who comment on Community Matters, whether anonymously or not.  For the record, I was the one who clarified the perception that readers could have from the Main Line Media News story due to the associated photo of DiBuonaventuro and Pratowski.   I explained on Community Matters that the unnamed male was not DiBuonaventuro but according to the police report, an attorney from Haverford.  Carla Zambelli of Chester County Ramblings has posted the DiBuonaventuro’s letter and asks the question, is the letter a “threat”?  Read it and you be the judge.  In my world, community and our voice does matter!

44 Comments

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  1. I find it interesting that Mr. DiBuonaventuro would use Board of Supervisor letterhead to express his personal opinions.
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    I might be frustrated with news articles, editorials, letters to the editor and reader comments that criticize my behavior as an elected official, but I would not use letterhead that suggests action by a majority of the Board. And if I were a fellow supervisor, I wouldn’t want to be associated with many of Mr. DiBuonaventuro’s viewpoints.
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    Community does matter. While Mr. DiBuonaventuro might be frustrated by the opinions of posters on CM, I believe they led to a full explanation of the situation – an explanation that would not have been forthcoming without CM. Ms. Benson should be congratulated for her hard work and perseverance.

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    Pattye Benson Reply:

    Thank you Keith for your comment and support.

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    Tredyffrin Resident Reply:

    Exactly. That letter seemed better as a letter to the editor then something to put on the front page of the township website with the BOS letterhead. I could not believe the township would post that officially on the website. It seems like there might be some personal grudges in there not related to this event.

    Thank you Pattye for taking the time to get to the bottom of this and I do respect everyone you interviewed for giving what I believe are honest answers. I still think the person in charge of PR at TTPD should have been out in front of this and gave the story you reported, which could have led to all the speculation being avoided. The police need to do a better job updating their website and releasing information and press releases. It does look pretty bad when you can find another persons public drunkenness citation listed in the press release section in which that incident occurred within three days of Pratowski’s and her’s was not reported on.

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    Tredyffrin Resident Reply:

    For example, I just checked and there is a notice for an event that took place in June under the “what’s new with the TTPD” section. Really?

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    Tredyffrin Resident Reply:

    Looks like someone reads these comments as I see this was just removed this morning. I also why the letter was removed and then put back?

    Pattye Benson Reply:

    Yes, the letter was on the website for about 45 min. but it has returned. Please see the post that will be going up shortly, an email to me from our township manager, Mimi Gleason. I think people will be as surprised as I am about her comments.

  2. I moved to Tredyffrin (Wayne) about less than a year ago from Pittsburgh, a transfer for work. In researching school districts to help my wife and I decide where to live in the Philadelphia area, I stumbled over Community Matters. We settled in Wayne and our children are in TESD. Patty has provided us with information and details about this community that we could never find anywhere else. I cant imagine after Patty takes the time to go to these officials and get answers that a Tredyffrin supervisor would do such a thing as write that letter, it is disgraceful. From a residents standpoint, I am appalled that our taxpayer dollars that funded the website are being used in this way. This supervisor needs to grow up. Are you crazy, she got the answers for the public that the police department and the BOS should have already given us.

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    Pattye Benson Reply:

    Thank you Mr. Darton.

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  3. Kudos to Pattye Benson for ace investigative reporting . .. . Community Matters continues to be a great uncompensated public service. Well done, Ms Benson.

    M.A.

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    Pattye Benson Reply:

    Thank you for your support, it is very appreciated!

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  4. Great work Pattye, but if all of that is true, I actually wish there was a conspiracy.

    Hearing all these details about our local justice system makes me feel much less safe. Police with full mailboxes that lose information, judges that reduce serious charges to wrist slaps, judges that dismiss charges for a previous serious offender as to not inconvenience them, omitting certain arrests from the press releases. Either way you look at it, this can not make you feel good about the local system (unless you plan on breaking the law some time in the future).

    In the end i think the Judge is the most to blame. That is the final check to ensure that someone does not get off due to technicality. I find it unbelievable that given the defendant’s previous record (although most of the original charges were also dropped) that she got off completely clean. Makes me want to follow up on other crimes in our areas that I thought were slam dunk cases, how many of them got off and are back at it.

    Concerning John, I had a lot of respect for him with regard to being an adult about the St. Davids Golf Club issue, it seemed like he was different than previous supervisors and tried to do the right thing for the township. The message from him has eliminated all that respect and shown him to be just another politician.

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    Pattye Benson Reply:

    Thank you for your comments. It is sad that Mr. DiBuonaventuro determined it was necessary to make a personal attack on me, Community Matters and on those residents that dared to question the Police Department process or to have an opinion on this issue. And I find it particularly disheartening that he would use the township website and township letterhead) for his personal attacks. And in writing today’s post on CM, I once again explain that after the internal review, it was determined that this supervisor had nothing to do with the outcome of the Pratowski hearing. Absolutely unbelievable that is OK behavior by one of our elected officials. Wow.

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  5. OK, so Suzy got off for child endangerment for driving drunk with the kids in her car 2010, that DUI was expunged, but it would have been used against her for the second round of charges (where she should have also been charged with another DUI for driving a bicycle drunk) – yet she still has a perfectly clean criminal record.

    No preferential treatment shown here?

    Sure.

    Government is expert at covering its tracks, but then Suzy just may be the luckiest drunk in the word and this is all a coincidence.

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  6. In his reference to CM, Supv. D suggests : but it has, for whatever personal reasons and misguidance, mestastasized into a channel of direct personal attacks on individuals in public service and/or its entities.”

    I was a 3-term member of the TE School Board. I was often the target of angry comments. It’s part of the job. I find Community Matters to be a helpful line of communication in this community. As Keith and Kevin Grewell have said on this site, the process is enhanced when the community is engaged. WHen I was on the school board, I used to joke that if I wanted to get the community engaged, I would move a bus stop. That brought people out….but not much else.

    I wrote to the BOS through their website contact form tonight requesting that the DeB letter be removed from the website and replaced with an apology. I am repulsed that someone would be so arrogant to use official letterhead and a taxpayer funded website to rant about any comments made on CM. He certainly could have communicated his concerns right here — but he prefers to pull rank and go to all the people — with something that few of “all the people” even know about.
    MLMN and the Chester County Ramblings blog introduced the topic of JDB and the picture from Oct 15, 2011 — and it was from the start that Pattye attempted to clarify that he was not the “man in the car.” In fact, Pattye’s reference to JDB was in response to comments and I will go back and read, but I do not believe she cast any stones, much less a defamatory one.

    I appreciate our public officials taking the time to talk with Pattye. My suspicions are still there, because there are too many coincidences for me to ignore a repeat offender with an alcohol problem being found not guilty — and a veteran police officer who the previous evening had been promoted having a full mailbox. But those suspicions are my own, and as I said during my time on the board when people challenged some of our decisions — I made the decision I considered best with the facts I had. My line: “People with all the answers rarely have all the information.” I’m a private citizen. I don’t have to agree with a decision but I trust Michelle Kichline and am content that if she is okay with it, I am too. I think many people learned lessons here, and perhaps even the police will get in front of something publicly when they are savvy enough to know something needs an internal investigation. This is a very educated community.

    Thank you Pattye for going the extra mile. And for Mr. D, who seems to read this periodically, many of us use alias’ because we don’t want every comment to show up when we google ourselves.;…but regular readers for the most part know exactly who is posting. And I would suggest that you be a bit more forthcoming and transparent in many of your official roles if you want to tamp down the “conspiracy” theories.

    And to use an old political phrase…if you can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen. Pattye would have been happy to serve, and took her passion for the community to the blogosphere after the election. So you may call not winning from the “non Republican endorsement side” an absolute defeat, but I think we all know that the candidates that ran against her were qualified, worked hard and had factors that made them good candidates, in addition to being on the R side of the ballot — and the sample ballot.

    This stuff is ugly. But using the township website to demonize people that anger you is wrong. Write us here. We’ll reply to you. Promise.

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    Pattye Benson Reply:

    Thank you Andrea, your comments are much appreciated!

    I wrote to the BOS through their website contact form tonight requesting that the DeB letter be removed from the website and replaced with an apology. I am repulsed that someone would be so arrogant to use official letterhead and a taxpayer funded website to rant about any comments made on CM.

    I could not agree more … does Mr. D’s use of the township website set a new, disturbing precedent for its use by elected officials. If you are a supervisor and don’t like the opinions of the residents, you get to use the township website as your bully pulpit. Wow, Is this really OK?

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  7. Good grief – who agreed that it was a good idea to post that letter on the Township website? Community Matters posts are an “ongoing effort to discredit our government and its efforts to serve the citizens by creating and fostering an environment of conspiracy among its limited readership?” Does the rest of our Township’s leadership believe this is an appropriate response to a citizen asking a few questions?

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  8. Agreed, John Darton!

    Our family moved to Tredyffrin from Haddon Twp, NJ 4 years ago for all of the resources that T/E has to offer. We’ve been blessed with fantastic teachers and community members. We are generally pleased with our decision to live here. As our Daylesford neigborhood is facing the much debated C-1 zoning change, it’s been amazing to see this group pull together for a cause they believe in so passionately. Tredyffrin is amazing because of the people!

    I was referred to Pattye/Community Matters by a neighbor and I’ve been grateful ever since! Where else can one go to find out a wealth of information, and have an open exchange with other residents? It’s amazing to me that JD has the audacity to call out Pattye! She’s doing this community a great service and doesn’t get a dime for her time or talents! The amount of energy and committment she dedicates to ALL issues on the blog are impressive! When we (the constituents/taxpayers) exercise our right to free speech, we should NOT get a nasty Letter from the Chair of Supervisors on BOS letterhead rebuking us for a difference of opinion. I (for one) felt JD’s letter was intimidating and threatening. Also, since it’s on BOS letterhead, is it safe to assume ALL the Supervisors feel the same as JD? One wonders….

    Stating the obvious here, when you run for public office, not everyone’s going to be on your side. But you put YOURSELF in that position and you have to fo face the consequences either way. I’ve faced my fair share of harsh criticism on this blog due to the C-1 zoning issue/Duffy’s project. Doesn’t bother me in the least…I have nothing to hide and I welcome the feedback and appreciate that we ALL have the right to weigh in and be heard.

    Quite frankly, JD your letter spoke volumes to me and many DNA members today. On several occassions, we have requested your support at meetings, and you haven’t shown up. We understand you have a busy schedule, so do we. Your letter questions if some of those anonymous bloggers have the stamina to serve in a public position with little/no pay. Well, as the President of the Daylesford Neighborhood Assn (DNA), I (along with MANY others) have spent countless hours in strategic planning sessions, going door-to-door with petitions, and meeting with PC/BOS members to educate them on our opposition to the C-1 zoning change. We haven’t been paid a penny! It’s a grass-roots passion to stand up for what we believe in that keeps us motivated! Some may post anonymously on blogs because they fear retaliation or bullying.

    I don’t pretend to understand the pressures you and the other Supervisors are under. I’m sure it’s an exhausting job and often “thankless”. However, please think twice before offending us (your constituents). You may think some of the comments are “defamatory”. Others will see them as freedom of speech. I (for one) would like to see your letter pulled from the Tredyffrin Website. It’s inflammatory and disparaging to Pattye and others in the township looking to exercise their First Amendment rights.

    Thanks for your consideration.

    Pattye: Thanks for giving us a voice. ALL of us. Even when they don’t agree with me :-)

    Trisha

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    Pattye Benson Reply:

    Trisha, thank you for your comments! I too find Mr. D’s lack of response and respect to his constituents in the Daylesford neighborhood troubling, to say the least. You make a good point, unless we find out otherwise, are to assume that all the township supervisors support Mr. D’s letter. As long as the township website continues to post Mr. D’s letter on township letterhead on the site, I guess the residents can assume that the other 6 supervisors support him. Let’s hope that isn’t the case!

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  9. Allow me to be tongue in cheek here — Mr. D is like a flasher in the park….and you got his description. His true character has been revealed…and he can apologize all he wants, but his credibility with me is gone. Bully.

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    Pattye Benson Reply:

    “flasher in the park” — love it! :)

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  10. John DiBuonaventuro’s attempt to call your motives and even your character into question is beyond the pale, Pattye. His letter – placed inappropriately on the Township’s official website -shows a public official with a thin skin and a personal animus.

    CM’s readers know you made concerted efforts to get the facts and find the truth. The confluence of circumstances seemed unlikely to be coincidental.

    And you took great care not to cast aspersions on Supervisor DiBuonaventuro in your posts. You simply asked questions, which many Tredyffrin residents were wondering, having seen news articles in both the Suburban and the Inquirer.

    At the heart of this is a very sad, personal and private story. I feel for a young mother in a bad situation, and I imagine others in the position to help her did as well.

    But it is the possibility that only someone who knows the right people will get a break when they make a mistake – that strikes most people as unfair.

    No one should be surprised that in a township run by one political party, every board and commission appointment, every land development deal and every piece of information can be controlled. It is a place where the favored ones get different treatment than everyone else. Where dissenting voices are most often ignored and occasionally attacked.

    That’s a fundamental problem in Tredyffrin, one that will only be countered by plenty of sunshine and push back from informed citizens.

    Thanks for advancing both, Pattye!

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    Pattye Benson Reply:

    Thank you Kate for your comments and your support.

    You are right — I took great care to make sure that the facts were straight, not once but in two different posts about Mr. D. I wanted CM readers to know that he was not the mystery man mentioned in the police report — it was important that the public not assume that because MLMN posted a photo of him and Ms. Pratowski, that he was her designated driver on May 28. And again in today’s CM post, I speak of Mr. D. having been interviewed by the Police Department for possible involvement. However, again I was quite clear that the internal investigation determined that Mr. D. was not involved.

    Frankly, I spent many hours researching this issue and the process so that WE ALL could have answers. Rather then showing appreciation, for an elected official to use taxpayer money for a personal attack on me, Community Matters and those citizens that dare have an opinion, speaks to the character of Mr. D. Such a very sad ‘period’ to the end of this story — it truly speaks volumes.

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  11. I am so unhappy – and actually so surprised – that John D. reacted in this manner and published such a vindictive, personal attack on Pattye.

    I have always considered him one of the good guys on the BOS , someone who has acted reasonably and in the best interest of township citizens. I really have to re-evaluate his character, in light of this letter.

    I would also like to know why the township would publish his letter on OUR public website – is the site now a vehicle for a BOS member to convey personal, non-governmental opinions and attacks?

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    Pattye Benson Reply:

    Thank you for your comment. I too would like to know the ‘oversight process’ for the website. When I have tried to get public announcements on the website, I was always met with a great deal of minutiae that could take levels of approval! Guess its ‘who’ you are and ‘who’ you know.

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  12. Well to take another view, maybe the commentary on this blog did jump the gun.. Pattyes “investigation “and report above was terrific and totally informative and frankly should have been the lead in the discussions about this topic if that was possible.. So I think we can move on with the feeling that this was a error and trust in our leaders, police, judicial and BOS. Next time an issue like this comes up, perhaps we can continue to rely on Pattyes good work to flesh out the truth before we file our opinions. Lesson learned by me too..

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    Pattye Benson Reply:

    Thank you for your comment – I do think that the chapter closes on the police investigation. I am confident that this type of error will not occur again.

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  13. This is want happens when you let a little sun light in. Was thinking this as I was reading. Then something else jumped into my head, with John D.’s response, he does protest to much!!!!

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  14. GET A LIFE!! JD has devoted countless hours to helping many residents in this township!! He is truly a good man …this is much to do about NOTHING. Go spend your time “columbo’ng” real criminals.

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    Township Reader Reply:

    we would have been better served had JD spent about 30 minutes to get over this and NOT waste time writing his letter that is “much to do about NOTHING.”

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  15. TR,

    How much time JD wasted? There are like 60 comments on two incredibly long posts by pattye. I am sorry JD wrote the letter but he did a public service to most on this board so they can agonize and wring their hands for hours more over what is basically the judge’s fault. The time waste over this issue came long before and now since JD’s letter. And not by JD.

    THe judge should be reprimanded. The cops made a mistake but he knowingly let a Multi-time loser who endangered her own children off the hook without a moment’s pause. That’s dumb, irresponsible and NOT the fault of the police.

    If there was preferential treatment it came only at the hands of the judge.

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    Pattye Benson Reply:

    FTW, Are you OK with Mr. DiBuonaventuro’s personal political attack on me, and the use of the township website to deliver it? Just curious.

    Twice I clarified on Community that JD was not involved — first, that he was not the mystery driver and second, in my summary, I also indicated that after questioning by the Police Department, it was determined that he was not involved in the matter.

    I spent hours speaking with Hogan, Kichline, Tartaglio and Giaimo and then alot more time writing the summary of what I found out — I attempted to ask all the questions that I had, plus questions that CM readers had asked. If was only after days had gone by, and the article had appeared on MLMN, TE Patch, Philadelphia Inquirer and Chester County Ramblings blog, and numerous phone calls and emails questioning ‘why’ wasn’t I commenting on the situation, that I finally wrote the CM article. I didn’t discover any ‘secrets’ that the BOS or the Police Department could not have told the public … but the questions were mounting, and no answers were in sight. Following the initial newspaper report, there was amble time for Mr. DiBuonaventuro to address his involvement but he had not. Sure, I didn’t need to do all that I did to find answers, I did it because I thought we needed to know what had happened. Had their been information available from the BOS, Police or the township, my mini-investigation would not have been necessary. When I wrote that summary, I closed the chapter, satisfied with my answers and said so on CM.

    Never in my wildest dreams did I expect what was to come — JD’s letter and our township managers response to me. Truly unbelievable. Certainly JD is entitled to state his opinion of me, Community Matters or whomever else he wants to attack, but as a taxpayer in this community, I have a real problem with the fact that he used township letterhead and the township website to spew his venom. I also have a problem when our government attempts to take away citizen’s 1st Amendment rights — whether its an elected official or our township manager. In the case of Judge Tartaglio, whether you agree with his decision or not, it was his ‘right’ to hand down the ‘not guilty’ verdict to Ms. Pratowski. Is it the ‘right’ of an elected official to use the public website for a personal, political attack — yes, political. Even if one supports Mr. DiBuonaventuro’s rant about Internet news sources, including blogs, I’d love for someone to offer the rationale why he needed to include my supervisor candidacy of 2009 in his diatribe? It’s been 3 years, and yes I lost — so what’s his point? And why do we need to have that political statement on the public’s township website!

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    Township Reader Reply:

    FTW
    How much time did he waste?
    Writing on blogs is a time waster….but it’s fun and interesting. What is exchanged here used to happen at the ACME meat counter. I’m sorry that there were speculations that made him uncomfortable. I will say for perhaps the 10th time that the POLICE interviewed him to resolve the mystery about the cops not showing up…so clearly they understood the appearance of a conflict of interest. Had the initial police report gone beyond clerical error, I doubt seriously anything else would have been said.

    But riddle me this FTW: Why did JD choose to use the township website to respond to CM and MLMN? Why did he not simply send a letter to the sources of his irritation? Why should a representative of the people have access to someone no one else can access or rebut – except to be a bully and have access to the website to communicate?

    I don’t care how he spends his time — I only wish he had taken a deep breath and either directed his venom to the forums he was irritated with, or waited to make a statement at a public meeting where we all have access to the microphone. What he did was small and petty and wrong….he’s in the public domain and he has a duty to represent us, not reprimand us. So please — why were the police not mocked and destroyed by JDB for their inclusion of him in their internal investigation?

    Kind of tired of asking……….not a single person in all this exchange has bothered to even speculate much less answer why the police questioning JDB does not validate the impression that there might be more to the story?

    I am sorry if anything I have said offends anyone. It is strictly my opinion. I do not present it to change yours.

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  16. Wow, I go away for a few days and miss all the uproar! Did JD really think that publishing a personal attack through the township website would do anything other than create a new problem? And I guess Mimi just doesn’t care any more and let years of frustration come to the surface.

    I fully endorse the many commentators here who have recognized you, Pattye, for the fact-based reporting you have provided on this situation and on many others. Thank you so much for your continued efforts to shine a light on all corners of our Township.

    As to the original event, I can see why the long conversations with the various officials might lead us to believe that all is explained. I continue to have trouble with the story.

    The police office missed the court notice because “at least one of the officers had a full mailbox and the notice was buried in the paperwork”.

    – Which officer had the full mailbox?
    – Why?
    – What other communications in the full mailbox, if any, were missed?
    – How exactly can a document get “buried” in a mailbox?
    – Has the document now been unearthed?
    – If the document hasn’t been located, what does the police department think happened to it?
    – If the other officer did not have a full mailbox, why did he also miss the notice?
    – Where is the notice to the second officer now?
    – Was either of the officers aware that the defendant was a political appointee?
    – Is there anything in the history or culture of the department that would suggest without explicit discussions that the notice could or should be buried?
    – Had either of the officers ever been in any conversations about the case with any official or employee of any township, police department or any political party, with any lawyer, or indeed with any other private citizen?
    – Did either of the officers ever hear any third party conversations about this case?
    – What conversations did the officers have between themselves about the case?
    – If the answer to any of the above three questions is yes, what was the content of those conversations, and when did those conversations take place?

    Perhaps these questions and more were asked by the Internal Affairs officer? Perhaps the report could be released and we can judge for ourselves? Does anyone know if it would it take a RTK request to get the document?

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    Pattye Benson Reply:

    Yes Ray — who could have forecasted this sorry turn of events. Thank you for your kind words (and the kind and supportive words of others) but it is disheartening to have someone elected to protect the “health, safety and welfare of the citizens” decide to turn on some of those citizens, ‘me’ and any other resident who dares to question the government or offer an opinion. Isn’t Mr. DiBuonaventuro also elected to protect our 1st Amendment rights?

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    Township Reader Reply:

    The two officers were together at a township meeting the night before getting promoted. There is little doubt they knew that any kind of conviction might create great chaos in the defendant’s life. Not small but inconsequential coincidence we are loathe to speculate on. Not publicly anyway. See you at the meat counter?

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    Township Resident Reply:

    Pattye, is there anyway you know how to get the documents released? Ray asks great questions and I don’t agree this case is closed and if for no other reason; How is it each and every Township official (be it elected or appointed) has condoned what Suzy Pratowski did?

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  17. Failure to punctuate … The officers were together the night before the scheduled,hearing because they were being promoted and recognized by the powers that be. Whether they spoke to each other about the hearing scheduled the next day at which both/either had a case scheduled is a matter of pure speculation. I have no evidence to dispute the claim that they were unaware (both of them) that there was a hearing.

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  18. So let’s ignore politics….take away the power. Citizen input not just criticism. WHen all people do is dissect and scrutinize, the “politicians” take it private.
    And can we leave poor Ms. P alone? She clearly reaps what she sows. Helping her doesn’t make someone corrupt….once upon a time, people actually tried to help out. Pretty women rarely get tickets compared to old ugly ones….

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