Pattye Benson

Community Matters

UPDATE: DA Tom Hogan Weighs In … Is it a Get Out of Jail Free Card for Tredyffrin Official? You be the Judge!

9-3-12 UPDATE: District Attorney Tom Hogan Weighs In (See end of post)

There was a troubling news article in last week’s Main Line Media News about one of Tredyffrin Township’s Zoning Hearing Board members, Suzy Pratowski. TE Patch, the Daily Local and, then a couple of days ago, the Philadelphia Inquirer, picked up the story.

There are several reasons why I think this story caught people’s attention, me included. The initial newspaper headline, ‘Zoning hearing board member not guilty after police are a no-show at her trial’, causing some of us a double take. Zoning hearing board member? Trial? MIA police officers? What was all of this about? Since when do township police officers not show up at trials? I cannot believe that this is a regular occurrence … I wonder when the last time was that a police officer did not show up for a scheduled hearing?

Remembering back a few years ago, I decided to fight a traffic violation in Tredyffrin and showed up at my scheduled time at Judge Blackburn’s courtroom. The traffic officer who had written my citation arrived on time for the hearing with his 6 in. thick codebook ready to defend his case against me. Although I was well prepared, (albeit sans an attorney), the police officer’s testimony prevailed – I lost the case and paid my fine. The point is, my hearing was for a routine traffic violation and the officer involved showed up. From the newspaper articles, Pratowski’s case is far from routine, and she isn’t just ‘Joe Citizen’ … Suzy Pratowski is a supervisor-appointed member of Tredyffrin’s Zoning Hearing Board.

For those that have not followed the case, Pratowski was arrested in Chesterbrook on May 28, charged on two counts, public drunkenness and disorderly conduct, and issued citations. The situation involved a domestic altercation between Pratowski and her former husband, Jay Ciccarone. I have read the police reports and the account in the newspaper is accurate with one clarification. When Pratowski arrived to pick up her children at Ciccarone’s house, she was not driving but rather a passenger in a car driven by an unnamed male, a designated driver. Ciccarone was unwilling to turn the two boys over to Pratowski, citing their custody agreement, which requires that Ms. Pratowski not drink alcohol 10 hours before driving and picking up the children. The police officer determined that Pratowski had been drinking and therefore the children should remain with Ciccarone.

A photo accompanying the Main Line Media newspaper article showed Ms. Pratowski with township supervisor John DiBuonaventuro at a 2011 Devereux charity event. In reading the article, in conjunction with the accompanying photo, it is possible that a reader could conclude that DiBuonaventuro was the unnamed male driver on May 28. However, that assumption would be wrong … the police report names a Haverford attorney as the driver, not supervisor DiBuonaventuro. Pratowski left Ciccarone’s home without the children however, returned later that night on her bicycle and police were again called. With a PBT (preliminary breath test) reading of .18, the officer cited Pratowski with public drunkenness, disorderly conduct and returned her home in a police car.

Two years earlier, in June 2010, during a vehicle stop, Pratowski was charged with DUI, having received a PBT reading of .127. Pratowski’s two children were in the vehicle at the time and although initially charged with child endangerment, that charge was later dropped. Pratowski pleaded guilty to the DUI. In reading the police report from 2010, I noted that situation also involved Pratowski’s former husband Jay Ciccarone. Concerned for his children’s wellbeing, it was Ciccarone who called the police which ultimately resulted in Pratowski’s DUI arrest. The recent May 2012 incident was Pratowski’s second involving alcohol — a second offense that could have had grave consequences for Pratowski legally.

Although the charges against Pratowski were significant, it remains a real mystery as to why the police officers involved were no-shows at her hearing. Not just one police officer but two officers failed to show up. How is this possible? According to the Main Line Media News article, “Tredyffrin police Lt. Taro Landis said the officer who was supposed to show up in court that day was on another call at the time.” The police department explained the absent police officer as an ‘oversight’. Considering this was a second offense for this defendant, I do question why the police officer would have another call at the time. No mention as to why the other police officer was also MIA for the hearing.

In the Philadelphia Inquirer follow-up article, Tredyffrin Police Chief Tony Giaimo cited a ‘clerical error’ on the part of the officers as to the reason they did not show up at Pratowski’s trial. He further stated that the officers were disciplined but offered no details. OK, I’m confused … if it was a clerical error, why would the police officers need to be disciplined? And where exactly did the clerical error occur; within the police department, the District Court … the police officer’s Blackberry schedule?

It needs to be stated that the police officers involved in Pratowski’s May 28 arrest were not rookie cops. Allen Dori, is a 10-yr. veteran in the Tredyffrin police department and Daniel McFadden, a 20-year veteran and a certified crime scene investigator. Coincidentally just a couple of days before the Main Line Media story first appeared on August 24, both Dori and McFadden were promoted at the August 20 Board of Supervisors meeting. Police officer Dori was promoted from patrol officer to corporal and McFadden promoted from patrol officer to detective. Based on their experience and background, these two police officers do not strike me as individuals who would miss an important hearing because of a clerical error!

So let me understand this correctly, if there is a clerical error and the arresting police officer (or in this case, two police officers) does not show up at the hearing, the case is simply dismissed. Does this mean that the records of the case are expunged? When a clerical error occurs, am I to understand that there is no such thing as the rescheduling of the hearing. Magically, the problem is solved and the defendant receives a ‘pass’. Wow … amazing! Based on the remarks that Police Chief Giaimo gave to the Philadelphia Inquirer, it appears that the matter is closed, but should it be? .

In addition to process questions surrounding this incident, we are left with the open issue about Pratowski’s suitability to serve on the township’s Zoning Hearing Board. Appeals for relief from decisions of the Zoning Officer and/or requirements in the zoning Ordinance are handled by the ZHB. Unlike other boards and commissions in the township, the ZHB is a quasi-judicial body whose decisions are not subject to the approval of the supervisors. I am thinking that Pratowski’s guilty verdict for DUI in June 2010 should have warranted her dismissal from the ZHB. For those of you wondering what the grounds are for removal from the ZHB, the following is from the PA Municipal Planning Code that governs the ZHB in our municipality:

Article IX – Zoning Hearing Board and other Administrative Proceedings

Section 905. Removal of Members. Any board member may be removed for malfeasance, misfeasance or nonfeasance in office or for other just cause by a majority vote of the governing body which appointed the member, taken after the member has received 15 days’ advance notice of the intent to take such a vote. A hearing shall be held in connection with the vote if the member shall request it in writing.

Reading the section titled ‘Removal of Members’, it would appear that Pratowski should be removed from the ZHB. Pratowski occupies the seat on the Zoning Hearing Board once held by John Petersen. As a former ZHB member, a supervisor and an attorney, I asked him for his comments —

I was very sad to hear about Suzy’s troubles. I’ve known her to be a good person and I sincerely hope that she gets to a point, for the benefit of her and her children, where portions of her life are not being played out in the paper. In most cases, this would be a private matter. Back in 2005 when I was appointed to fill vacancy on the BOS, I left the ZHB and had recommended Suzy to take my place. I was happy to do so then as she was qualified and has done a good job. However, as a former member of the governing body and the ZHB, I also have to consider the consequences of actions that place confidence in our public institutions at risk. Serving is a privilege, not a right. Given the history here, I have to wonder why Suzy was not removed from the ZHB back in 2010. These latest incidents only serve to add to growing list of questions concerning the integrity of our local government. It’s even worse when there is no confidence in the police, who at various times, holds, albeit brief, a decisive role in a person’s individual freedom. Between township staff, elected officials, certain boards and appointees or the dealings of those appointees and the police, nothing appears to be working correctly in Tredyffrin Township. I actually fear our government and police as they don’t act in the citizens’ best interest.

As to the “clerical error”, as a lawyer, I find that to be hard to believe. It’s a rather generic answer – one that the Inquirer should have followed up on with this simple question: “What was the error?” The workings between the district courts, the County and the various police departments are actually quite efficient. If this was a clerical error, then it was an error that was of the same proportion of that single bullet on that fateful day on November 22, 1963. There would have had to have been errors in Judge Sondergaard’s office as well as the administration in the police department and other people. Did other Tredyffrin Police manage to show up that day for other cases, or the day prior or after? Why this case? Why this person? When was the last time this sort of thing happened? Maybe it’s a common practice? But for Suzy’s private issues and the fact that she is a public official did this one come to light? Again, it’s about the appearance of impropriety.

Nobody has mentioned this yet, but I think it is fair game for DA Tom Hogan to make an inquiry here. As I see it, a full and open investigation is the only way the matter can get cleared up. We’ve already had a major scandal with former chief Chambers. And not too long before Chambers, chief Harkness was dismissed amidst a cloud of allegations the subject of which are/were part of a confidentiality agreement. Between that, alleged civil rights violations and other things – it’s not been a good time for the police or the government as a whole.

For longer than I care to remember, too many bad acts. In many ways, we’ve not progressed beyond Harry Marrone. Too many questions. This really goes to the honor and integrity of people. What I’ve been seeing lately is a lot of inaction and indecisiveness from township leadership. Again I ask – when is it going to stop? When are the adults going to take charge? When can people have confidence that their government and police will treat all people fairly and equally instead of calling person’s political affiliations out as just being a “Data point?” Anybody else, with these players involved, and I doubt seriously that there would be a “Clerical error.” And when they don’t treat people fairly and equally, will those same governmental actors ever be held accountable? Candidly, I was not a fan of Giamo’s promotion – given the recent history. Has nothing to do with Tony as a person or his qualifications. It has everything to do with the integrity of the institution and the confidence that public has in that institution. Sometimes, you just have to bring people in from the outside. I believe had we had truly shaken things up, there would not have been a “Clerical error.” One simply cannot look past the fact that Suzy was at a time, a TTRC member, dating a supervisor and of course, is a member of the ZHB. Anybody who cites those factors as being irrelevant is simply being willfully naïve. I lost my political mentor John Waldeyer in 2005. He was a good man and a great steward of good and honorable political values. He always said to me that the most important thing in politics and service is to be identified with good government. Everything else takes care of itself. A lot of people forgot those words. I’ve never forgotten them. John would be absolutely ashamed of what we see today. And if he were around today, we would not see the crap we’ve seen for the last 7 years. People around here have long forgotten what good government is. No government is perfect, but it can still be good nevertheless. John exercised discipline. John was an adult.

Finally, a personal plea to Suzy – if you have not done so, offer up your resignation. Doing so would mark the first time in a very long time a public official did the right thing in the face of adversity.

Do Tredyffrin Township residents really need another St. Davids sidewalk saga or a ‘big check’ moment — remember the fire funding spectacle with cameras rolling? As Carla Zambelli, fellow blogger and friend, wrote on Chester County Ramblings in her post , “enough Tredyffrin. enough”“Tredyffrin needs to get its house in order and stop sounding and acting like a Shakespearian tragedy meets a made for TV movie on Lifetime.” Carla does have a way with words, just wish in this case, she wasn’t right.


9-3-12 UPDATE: District Attorney Tom Hogan Weighs In

I sent an email to District Attorney Tom Hogan, asking if this situation constitutes an investigation by his office. The DA called and we had a lengthy discussion on this matter. It is with his permission that I can offer this update. According to the Hogan, there has been an investigation and review. Police Chief Tony Giaimo conducted an internal department investigation and then asked for an outside review from the District Attorney’s office on the ‘clerical error’ matter. According to the internal police report, there were scheduling issues and the two police officers were not notified of Suzy Pratowski’s hearing date. The DA also reported that Pratowski’s former husband Jay Cicarrone was also not notified of the hearing date. Pratowski and her attorney were the only ones to receive notification.

Hogan also offered that because of township supervisor John DiBuonaventuro’s relationship with Pratowski (and questions concerning his possible involvement), the police as part of the investigation interviewed DiBuonaventuro. The police department determined that DiBuonaventuro was not involved in the situation. The internal investigation determined that a clerical error as the reason that the two officers missed the hearing. The District Attorney’s office reviewed the police department findings and was satisfied by the report.

I asked the DA how often does a clerical error occur that police officers miss a scheduled hearing. Although Hogan said that it does happen, he did say it was not common in Tredyffrin Township. I let our District Attorney know that many of us were troubled by the appearance of this situation. For the record, the District Attorney’s office has no jurisdiction over Pratowski’s continued membership on Tredyffrin’s Zoning Hearing Board – the appointment and removal of ZHB members is a Board of Supervisors matter.

There was discussion of the ‘not guilty’ verdict for Pratowsk, given that the two police officers and Cicarrone did not attend the hearing. I will defer the legal explanation of the judicial process to John Petersen, who also spoke with Tom Hogan. Here are John’s comments:

I had an opportunity to speak to DA Tom Hogan on the matter. Normally, jeopardy does not attach in a case like this until the first witness is sworn – when the trier of fact (the judge in this case) has begun his journey of fact finding. This is all about protecting a defendant’s 5th amendment rights to due process, and specifically, a defendant’s right to not be tried more than once for the same crime. In this case, the judge had 3 options (really only two legitimate options in my opinion). The first is to find the defendant not guilty and close the case. This would NOT have been appropriate in my opinion because the prosecution was not present due to what has been regarded as an honest clerical error. How could a judge weigh facts that were not presented? The big problem with this option – jeopardy attaches. To review, in this case, not only did the police not show up, but the judge took the one choice that assured this matter went away forever.

The other two options were to 1 – dismiss without prejudice – giving leave to the police to re file the charges or 2 – to simply continue the trial. It seems to me the one that was most prudent in this case was to simply order a continuance. That would have remediated the clerical error and it would not have resulted in any constitutionally protected rights of the defendant being violated. Dismissing the case would have required the police to re-file charges – which would have resulted in additional time and expense.

Apparently, Judge Rita Arnold, another DJ, successfully quashed a citation against her son. In her case, she was suspended for 30 days. She’s back on the bench. As for her son, he gets off scot free. If you are thinking it pays to have connections you are right. I have been told there is a strong likelihood of a memo going out to DJ’s that gives better guidance on when it’s appropriate to make a determination on guilt vs. a dismissal vs. a continuance. It’s a bit concerning that guidance has to be given on this. Shouldn’t judges know better? The DJ system is broken and this reinforces my opinion that DJ’s need to be lawyers. This often surprises folks that DJ’s don’t need to be lawyers.

My conclusion on this – we’ll likely never know what really happened here. I have to ask whether a regular, non-connected person would be as lucky? The answer is absolutely not. Justice was not served here. And yet again, a connected person caught breaks that non-connected people don’t get. I am left with no other conclusion that this particular defendant was helped by many people with influence. How and why do I conclude that? Because there are no facts to suggest otherwise.

I have no faith in any aspect of our local government, it’s people and it’s ability to do the right thing.

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  1. Thanks Pattye and John for this balanced report and analysis of a situation that makes a laughing stock of our Township.

    An official investigation of the “clerical error” is clearly warranted. What is the chance that this will be launched, as John suggests, by fellow Republican Tom Hogan, former township solicitor (seemingly mute while in town here, but a DA with a penchant for press conferences)?

    There’s another troubling dimension here. BOS appointments to the various Boards and Committees are always – always! – made by a Supervisor offering a name with zero – zero! – supporting information, there is never – never! – any discussion, and the appointment is unanimously approved. What’s with that?

    1. Ray, thank you for your comment. I agree with you and John that an investigation is warranted. Since taking office as Chester County District Attorney in January, there’s hardly a week that goes by without news from Tom Hogan’s office of an new arrest or another criminal off the street. What would it take for the DA to look into Tredyffrin’s clerical error. I really hope that this situation isn’t just swept under the carpet as if it didn’t happen. I want to know how often (if ever!) a police officer didn’t show up for a hearing. I wonder if that information is available to the public – even if we were not permitted to know the details of the case, I sure would like to know how often it has happened, and particularly in non-traffic hearings.

      As for your comment re BOS appointments, I could not agree more with you. There is never any public discussion prior to a board appointment. The supervisors may interview a candidate but the public is not privy to what is asked or discussed with the candidate. And I can tell you that I have heard some troubling questions asked of some candidates by some supervisors. Second hand information so I will not elaborate as to which supervisor(s) asked inappropriate questions. But likewise to board appointments, the ‘removal’ of members from Boards and Commissions can likewise be quixotic.

    2. Of course, my other scenario should have been that Hogan conducts an “investigation and review” that washes the situation whiter than the just restored covered bridge. So many questions remain.

      What exactly was the “clerical error”? Who made it? What is the explanation? What sequence of events allowed it to occur? What typically occurs in a situation like this? Why did the typical not happen in this instance? When was the error made? What is being done to assure it is not repeated?

      And, compiling and adding to the questions that TR and John raise: What caused the reassignment? How often does reassignment occur? For what reasons? What is the process for reassignment? Was the reassignment linked to the clerical error? Why was the case not continued?

      Perhaps also relevant here is the ZHB’s history of post-facto free passes given to favored entities and the membership connection between recent ZHB and the current BOS.

      All of this is typical of a political network of cronies whose only hope of clinging to power is through suppressing the vote of those likely to disagree with them.

      1. Mr. Clarke:

        What exactly do you mean by your statement that the Zoning Hearing Board has a history of giving free passes to favored entities? This is a complete and utter falsehood.

        I have served on the Zoning Hearing Board between 2003 and the present (with the exception of a 15 month period between 2005 and 2006 when I was deployed with the U.S. Army serving as a military advisor in Iraq). That time period covers a good deal of recent Zoning Hearing Board history, and during my tenure I have never encountered a single instance where I felt that any member of the Board acted out of favoritism towards any applicant.

        I ask that you refrain from making false accusations and retract your statement.

        Daniel F. McLaughlin
        Zoning Hearing Board Member

        1. I suspect that we’ll find that the relevance is very much in the eye of the beholder here, as my “perhaps” language suggests.

          The fact is, though, that I heard evidence presented at a ZHB hearing citing contributions to the community in support of a variance requested by a recipient of township patronage who had ignored approved plans, built a structure that contravened the township’s setback ordinance, requested a variance after they were found out, and was granted that variance. So there’s nothing for me to retract.

          Doubtless the rationale for the ZHB approval can be positioned many ways. Your protestation reminds me of Queen Gertrude’s commentary.

      2. I don’t know any of you however it seems to me Dan is a stand-up person. He is the only person from the Zoning Board, Board of Supervisors, police force or DA’s office who stood up for what he believes. I guess you could say there have been comments from the police force and DA’s office however they contradict one another so I don’t know what to believe.

        Dan, what is your take as to whether Ms. Pratowski should remain on the ZHB? Also, what are your thoughts about the BOS saying something about this situation since they oversee the police department?

  2. Excellent report Pattye! Guess it’s not WHAT you know in Tredyffrin, but WHO you know. Some people get “passes” and some get “silenced”.

    Hopefully Tom Hogan can take a deeper look into the specifics.

    1. Trisha
      Check out the fundraiser from the picture. Oct 15,2011 13th Annual Devereux Pennsylvania Gala to honor Buck Riley. “Political and philanthropic gathering”

  3. What is wrong with this township. We elected supervisors to serve the community and its residents. Don’t any of them care anymore, maybe some never did. I’m sorry but it is obvious that this young woman has personal problems that should require her full attention. The BOS need to make it real easy for her. They should tell her either resign immediately from zoning board or we will remove you. Simple. Problem solved. Supervisors make it easy on her,& take care of it.

    Next order of business needs to be a complete and thorough investigation of this so-called clerical error. All those responsible should be held accountable, police, supervisors, lawyers, This was no typical clerical error, that’s for sure.

    1. I wondered if there was anything legal that the police could do since there was a schedule mishap with the police dept. Break the law in Tredyffrin and it really is about WHO you know. Sad, very sad.

    2. I’m not sure the boondoggle at the police department can be attributed to republicans nor democrats.. It does smell fishy for sure and the matter should have just been continued.

      Interestingly at the DJ courthouse, I filed a small claim against someone after exhausting what turned out to be an intractable problem that the accused just didn’t want to solve between the two of us. I never received notice of a date for the hearing.. and I lost.

      When this new BOS was seated, I read here on these pages how good it was to have this board, a new beginning, etc.

      What is the status of Pratowski vis a vis her position? Has she been released of her obligations? did she resign?

  4. Searched her name on the PA website link from public information. Nothing. So even her prior isn’t in the system. Not true of any other case I looked into.
    This is how things go. No one in the police dept wants to be the bad guy against a good friend of a Supervisor…even if they were not asked to skip the hearing.
    That should be a statistic we keep records on–cases dropped for Officer failing to be present…and what the offenses were.

  5. I just finished reading the buried story about the Tredyffrin police car that burned. Relatives of mine heard the explosion on Saturday afternoon who live near Country Gate. The story wasn’t even posted until Sunday night and no explanation at all was given for it. Why are residents being stonewalled by our own police department?

    As far as this story, which I’m still shocked ever saw the light of day, I would be so sad to find out that Dibuonaventuro had anything to do with it. As far as Suzy being a “good person”, I think many residents of the opposite party who voted at her polling location might beg to differ. I’ve heard her called many things, but never “a good person”. Not that it should even matter – this woman is a danger to her kids and someone should do something about it.

      1. From Wikipedia:
        A clerical error is an error on part of an office worker, often a secretary or personal assistant. It is a phrase which can also be used as an excuse to deflect blame away from specific individuals, such as high powered executives, and instead redirect it to the more anonymous clerical staff.

        We cannot tolerate our police chief saying this! We need to hear from the DA’s office regarding what they are going to do.

  6. I am wondering what kind of police department would promote officers for making a major “clerical error” like this. Something just doesn’t add up.

      1. That makes more sense. It looks like the promotion could have been the incentive for the officers. I just hope this isn’t as bad as it looks.

  7. Can you clarify for me? From what I read, two different police officers failed to attend a hearing on August 21st for a close friend of JDB, who the night before shook both their hands at a BOS promotion ceremony. No paper trail necessary…this is the same police force that had a bravado press conference in July after the arrest of 2 college kids for burglary with a warning that we don’t turn our backs on crime. This is apparent corruption. If someone doesn’t get sworn testimony on this, I presume guilt. hey–have they settled the police
    contract yet???

    1. You have the timeline correct — police officers promoted on 8/20 at BOS meeting and then failed to show at Pratowski’s hearing on 8/21. Also as an FYI, JD is the Board of Supervisor liaison to the Police Department.

      1. That JD is the liaison makes this look even worse for TT and the TTPD. There needs to be an investigation from the DA’s office at this point.

  8. This was reported by TE Patch on July 9….guilty before tried. Some find this event TRULY heinous. Because the message about crime in Tredyffrin here is absolutely unconscionable. The first hearing for Ms. P was continued and transferred out of Judge S’s court….so this one just dismissed. Now, I do know this happens, but there were TWO arresting officers. NEITHER showed up.

    ” Tredyffrin Police Superintendent Anthony Giaimo credited detectives and members of his department’s patrol division with working ” diligently to bring about a successful resolution to these criminal events.”

    Giaimo told TE Patch on Monday afternoon that the message to anyone thinking about commiting crimes in Tredyffrin is simple: “We’re going to find you, we’re going to get you.”

    What you can do to help stop home crimes?

    Giaimo says it’s important for all residents to remain “vigilant in securing their resicences and notifying the police department of observed suspicious behavior.”

    Police urge residents to get involved in their local “Town Watch” groups.

  9. Wow. Corruption in Tredyffrin. Soon it will look like Camden. Someone needs to find out where the officers were!

    As for Suzy, she seems to be a typical Archie Bunker republican with no mind of her own.

    1. hey — any chance Kuranda is associated with the Daylesford development? We all wondered where the enthusiasm for the project came from??(Nothing like the appearance of corruption to get the conspiracy juices flowing!). So have they written the job description for Township Manager yet??? Harkness an outsider they went after…Chambers an insider they went after…Giamo’s an insider who was the Open Records officer….uh oh. THIS is why we comment anonymously!

      1. Reader, Township. — unlisted.

        Sondergaard, Dem
        Tartaglio — Rep
        Hogan, JDB, BOS — Rep

        Clerical error in the R judge office….predestined when he transferred the case to his courtroom.

        Be honest John– you wish you were moving away too. Partisanship is not ever good when voters just read signs. here it’s R, elsewhere it’s D. If we accept Hogan’s update, we should all register LEMMING.

  10. If Suzy is not removed from the ZHB, heads should ROLL! It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to realize that John DiBuonaventuro is behind the cover up! They were dating for God’s sake – public knowlege! Clearly these Commission and Board appointments should be vetted a little better and not passed out like candy!

    ALL Tredfyffrin Supervisors, police officers, and administrators should have their feet held to the fire on this issue! It’s crystal clear that improper “favors” have been given to Suzy. She sounds like she needs serious help and I’m disgusted that she’s allowed to continue serving on a board in Tredyffrin.

    SHAME on ALL of YOU who have COVERED THIS UP!!!

    Suzy – how about getting yourself to an AA meeting instead of a ZHB meeting, or a black tie affair? I can’t imagine it’s “normal” to have a custody arrangement that includes refraining from alcohol for 10 hours prior to seeing your children. Sounds like an ongoing issue here. Sorry for sitting in judgement, but most of us have loved ones that you share the roads with! God help you if you hit my kid in your car (or while on your bike) under the influence!

    WHY were you not arrested for a 2nd DUI on Memorial Day weekend? Sure, you were on a bike, but you STILL could have hurt yourself or OTHER Township Residents. Disgusting! You owe it to yourself and your kids to get professional help, and resign from your Board position! I’m sure “Party Barbie” is NOT a nickname that makes you happy. You have a chance to turn things around before you hurt yourself or others. Good luck.

    Pattye: Is this topic going to be discussed at an upcoming BOS meeting? How can residents get involved and help to shine a light on the corruption? Would a letter to the Supervisors, or Chief of Police even make a mark?

    1. Okay…more timeline suspicions.

      In Sept of 2010, Ms. P notified Tredyffrin police that she believed her (stbex)husband was spying on her through her computer. MLMN reported that she moved out of her shared home in July 2010 and took the computer with her. In Oct 2010 police were given the computer for a forensic examination. The computer was found to have Web Watcher installed.
      NOTE: her arrest for DUI and child endangerment took place in July 2010 as well.

      Fast forward: Her ex-husband was arrested for this “crime” in September 2011 and posted $7,500 bond. ONE YEAR after she had filed the complaint.

      The Devereux Charity Event from the picture with JDB and Ms. P was on Oct 15, 2011….and just for fun, the honoree at that event was Buck Riley.

      cue the orchestra: We’ll go round and round and round in the Circle Game.

  11. Both officers missed the hearing and the defendant is John DiBuonaventuro’s girlfriend? Come on, are you serious? This one needs to be investigated by an outside agency especially in light of Mr. DiBuonaventuro’s authority over the police department. Even if it has been sufficiently covered up and no evidence is found to support the obvious, DiBuonaventuro’s credibility is now shot. It goes without saying that Ms. Pratowski should resign immediately and perhaps convince her boyfriend to do the same.

    1. Thanks Pattye. How sad that the DA had already checked this out. As Church Lady would say..”how convenient”

      I appreciate John’s take…but was Judge Sondergaard conflicted? Oh wait….she was elected as a DEMOCRAT. SP was arrested on 5/28 and the case transferred on 6/1 and accepted by Tartaglio on 6/5. He very obviously took this case. Why else was this moved to Tartaglio…what can people tell us to explain why the transfer in JUNE for an August hearing that somehow was never noted for the officers??? party affiliations?
      This looks, sounds and SMELLS like a duck. This is why the federal government uses special prosecutors. Tom Hogan just left his job working for JDB and the boys…The CC GOP giveth and it can taketh away. This is corrupt, even if it is “clerical error.”. Someone did someone a BIG favor. JDB knew Ms. P had a hearing the next day…and shook both arresting officers’ hands. HE KNEW they had a hearing. What did he know, and when did he know it???
      Why did Republican Tartaglio take this case immediately from Democrat Sondergaard?

      1. The docket showed it was assigned to her, and moved to him. I know it happens, but wanted to speculate why…because an ex-cop judge taking the case of JDBs girlfriend from the Dem judge just adds to the clutter of this debacle….

  12. Wait a minute, was it a clerical error or was it as Lt. Landis was reported to have commented to the Main Line Suburban Life? The following was taken from the Main Line media News site: Tredyffrin police Lt. Taro Landis said the officer who was supposed to show up in court that day was on another call at the time.

    “He was rescheduled, he was on another call and he just dropped the ball,” Landis said. He went on to say that police officials have spoken to the officer about it.” He also indicated that manpower issues could have also played a role in the missed hearing.

    “That does happen. Especially if you are running without a lot of people – you’re taking calls and sometimes you just miss it,” Landis said.

    That doesn’t sound like a “clerical error” to me.

    1. Well, they are calling the scheduling issue a clerical error. What I really don’t get — how is it possible that the exact same issue occurred for both officers (plus the ex-husband) yet the defendant and her attorney are notified and at the hearing.

    1. Playing the devil’s advocate —- is it possible that if there was a police department scheduling problem (clerical error) and the police officers were not notified of the hearing date, that could explain why they were out on calls. Just asking …

      1. Judge’s office…didn’t notify anyone but the people who allowed him to dismiss the case.

        One good thing about telling the truth–you don’t need to explain the inconsistencies in the story (or remember which story is official?)

      2. That is possible. However, then it would mean that the officers had no grounds to be disciplined on and Lt.Landis’s statement “he just dropped the ball” which attempts to put blame on the officer would seem strange. A lot of conflicting information with this.

  13. Thank you for the update Patty.

    John I appreciate your legal take on the situation. In you follow up comment, it sounds like theres no where to go with this trial. Just like that, this woman is off scot free. The police dont show up and shes not guilty. I just dont see how the judge could make that ruling. You say he isnt an attorney but shouldnt a judge know the proper handling.

    1. We need the Mainline Media News to do some good, old fashion investigative reporting. I believe some official will be caught telling a lie here. I believe! I believe!

      1. Pattye, would be interesting to get Vince DiFabio’s take too.

        Also, isn’t there a right to know act that will allow us to get the phone records (assuming we tax payers are paying for their phones) and emails from the BOS and police. I just can’t imagine these guys are so smart that they covered their tracks

    2. Lame duck township manager who may not have had the skills to truly manage the township. This model is too reliant on part-time elected people.
      Lacks true management oversight. WHO is the boss?

    3. John, your comment here caused me to think back to an experience I had in Judge Tartaglio’s courtroom a few years back. I was notified to appear because I had caught a driver going the wrong way over the Contention Lane bridge, and reported him. When the appointed time came, neither the officer nor the defendant was present. (Apparently, it was the first day back after vacation for the officer, so he was running late.)

      Judge Tartaglio turned to another officer that was present, and told him to find out what was happening and to tell the officer running late that the “constituent” was here waiting. Judge Tartaglio didn’t refer to me as the complainant, the witness, the pissed off resident he called me the “constituent.”

      When I think back about this, I remembered how much his using “constituent” made me believe that he valued my time and effort and presence, and that he was likely hiding frustration with the TTPD for their handling of the situation.

      If this had been one of those situations in August, he may very well have been reminding the TTPD about his expectations of them, and would have dismissed the case no matter who it was. (I’m sure that it didn’t hurt that SP’s attorney was probably demanding dismissal.)

  14. Is Landis telling the truth? Is Giaimo telling the truth? Is Hogan telling the truth? They can’t all be telling the truth here because each has a different story and Hogan seems to be blaming Judge Tartaglio.

    Nothing is adding up here and it seems so simple for Hogan, Giaimo or the BOS to supply a written report of where the officers were the day before the trial, day of and day after as well as a letter from Tartaglio saying he didn’t notify the officers, the husband or anyone except Pratowski. Looks like the “clerical error” came from Tartaglio’s staff.

    Pattye, you are doing a wondrful job and I think you need a statement from Judge Tartaglio. Can you pull that off? That statement will either help explain this case and put it to bed or deliver our worse fear that Tredyffrin has even bigger problems.

  15. In regards to Mr. Hogan’s comment that the police department interviewed Mr. DiBuonaventura and determined him not having any involvement in the case,…… Doesn’t the police department answer to the BOS (which DiBuonaventura is vice-chair of). Sounds like a very “internal investigation” to me.

  16. Just as guilty here are Michelle H. Kichline, Paul Olson, Philip Donahue, Michael Heaberg, Kristen Mayock and Evelyn Richter. These are all the members of the BOS who aren’t doing a thing!!!! None of them are asking questions just hoping this will blow over. How about a statement from Michelle Kichline? Isn’t this serious? Why have a police force if they aren’t going to show up after writing a ticket? I vote for each one of the BOS to be booted

    1. At the very least, a statement from Michelle Kichline is in order! Not too much to ask!! If I was a member of the BOS, I’d get prepared for a very uncomfortable night on 9/17! Hopefully residents will attend the BOS meeting in droves! We must take our concerns and disgust to the podium and demand answers from these elected officials!

      1. I don’t believe Michelle has any role in this — if missing hearings happens, it happens. But I do believe JDB knows he is in the middle of this, and a statement proclaiming no involvement — if that is the case — is in order. Giamio also owes another statement clarifying whether the officers were “reprimanded” or simply were not notified.

        One question: Since Ms. P was arrested in 2010 for DUI and child endangerment, and that part was dropped, was it likely dropped with some kind of plea agreement….and would the May arrest have violated any agreement relating to the first DUI. In other words, were the stakes VERY HIGH relating to her subsequent arrest? Just asking. I don’t know the ins and outs of “non traffic” violations.

    2. Agree completely. The lack of even a statement from any supervisor shows how much they respect the township and it’s residents. If you just looked at the township website you would think nothing even happened! This includes the exploding police car.

      1. But they do post the all important “township fields are closed today” right on the front page. Gotta love it.

  17. Pattye, I don’t know what we would do without you. Seems the media picked the story up and then stopped asking questions. You were the only one to get the DA to speak, not sure what he said, but he spoke.

    Would love to hear what the Judge has to say and they can probably start selling tickets for the BOS meeting September 17.

    1. My understanding from one of the supervisors is that Judge Tartaglia was on vacation last week. On behalf of many, I voiced my concern with the supervisor that there needs to be more communication from the BOS and Police Dept re this matter. Apparently there was a press release from the Police Dept. to the Philadelphia Inquirer in response to their inquiry which contained additional information — such as the involvement of the DA’s office in the investigation and review. Unfortunately, that press release is not on the township website — I have asked the supervisor for a copy of the press release. Should I receive it (hopefully it contains further details of this situation) I will post it on Community Matters. It is mystifying why the Police Dept. would not be the press release on their website, under the category marked ‘press releases’. However, I did note that the promotions of the police officers press release was on the list.

  18. The more I poke around the more befuddled I am. So, here is the press release when the police arrested Pratowski’s husband This is another topic because I don’t understand this arrest at all. Can someone get the police report?

    Moving on, Pratowski is on the ZHB, which is overseen by the BOS and there is no press release, charges are dropped, cops are a no show when Pratowski is caught for a DUI with kids in the car (really high BAC), Public Drunkeness (really high BAC), Criminal Mischief ALL while in the Township! If John Dibuonaventuro is looking for another girlfriend I need to know. ..and this is crazy, but I might give you my number, so call me, maybe?

    Does not seem to me Michelle Kichline, even though she is the Chair of the BOS, has any authority at all because the BOS looks to be run by John Dibuonaventuro

  19. Who oversees the press release’s? If this is true and there was never a press release on Ms. Pratowski being pulled over and charged with a DUI, Child Endangerment, and Public Drunkeness how can the police, BOS or whomever oversees this discriminate and then not expect to be sued costing us, the tax payers, money?

    We need a complete audit of tickets written vs press leases sent out. How could we get that?

    1. TR.. what does a “press release” have to do with the judicial process? Was the “media” quashed? Is ever ticket written subject to a press release? Or just for the “select few” who have no currency with the political hierarchy get a mention in the local papers?

  20. Good lord. I hope no one one this blog gets caught up in something legal only to have yourself dragged through the public mud. Despite all the conspiracy theories all over this blog, unless I’ve missed something, this woman hasn’t been proven guilty of anything in this case. Regardless of circumstances(which I understand is the cause of the post/commentary) , I’ve only see people refer to this person as guilty, yet I’m not sure that’s remotely appropriate. You make an assumption that even if this court date went smooth that she was going to be found guilty. How un-American.

    1. My understanding is she admitted guilt. She admitted pulling out someone’s flowers, driving drunk with kids in the car, took a breathalizer for being a public drunk. If she admitted it what’s your arguement?

    2. because the judge saw to it that the people did not get their day in court. ,That is either unAmerican or sadly what we all accept as what “they” get away with. Not a quarrel with the former defendant–a major concern about the lack of process integrity.

  21. Today I went to the District Court today to review court records and ended up in a 30 min. conversation with Judge Tartaglio.. From the District Court, I went to a meeting with Police Chief Tony Giaimo and had a 45 min conversation with him.

    I think I asked most all of our questions of these two people and tomorrow there will be a post with the details.

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