As you may have guessed, when people start shouting "Fuck you," even in a courtroom, Ron Angle is nearby. And so it was yesterday, as a jury trial got underway against political consultant Tom "Scissorhands" Severson. It was a little tough picking a jury because at least eight potential jurors claimed they could not be fair to Ron. "That's about average," quipped Ron.
Severson's repeated "Fuck yous" was all the rage yesterday. Instead of using that phrase in a bar or even a courtroom, the King of Sleazeball Politics was shouting that phrase during the middle of a Requiem Mass.
"Eternal rest grant unto them, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon them."
Scissorhands Response: "Fuck you."
"Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world, grant them rest, eternal."
Scissorhands Response: "Fuck you."
While Severson's wife was reading Scripture in front of the congregation, Scissorhands was menacing Angle, the Northampton County Bulldog, in the sinners' section at the back of the church. Ron's big mistake? He had attended Gemma Turtzo's funeral mass. She and her husband were forty-year friends. He was paying his respects. How dare he!
Seated next to Ron was prissy former Northampton County Council member Mary Ensslin, who adamantly told the jury Ron is "not a friend." As Ensslin tells it, Severson walked into the church after the mass had already started, grabbed a pew in front of them, and sat down. He then turned around and apparently recognized Angle. He got up, turned around, made an aggressive arm gesture and told Angle, "We're going to settle this."
Angle, who has never even met Severson, told Ensslin "Must be a happy constituent."
Later, Severson stood up again, turned around to Angle and said, "I'm going to stick this in you. We're going to end this." He put his hand in his pocket, suggesting he had a knife.
Angle asked Ensslin, "Who is that guy?"
"That's Mr. Severson."
Ensslin went on to claim that, as the mass was ending, Angle decided to leave the church early to avoid a confrontation. When Severson realized what had happened, he actually lunged at Ensslin, screaming "If you ever run for office again, I'll destroy you." Terrified, she escaped into the arms of Judge Leonard Zito, who was also attending the mass.
Pen Argyl Officer Jonathan Hoadley and Special Agent Michael Fuller told the jury that Severson actually admitted (1) giving Angle the finger, (2) multiple "Fuck yous"; and (3) telling Angle he "would get his." Severson even intimidated an elderly gentleman, Ed Mugavero, who had asked him to knock it off, especially after Severson took a cell phone call from his daughter in the middle of the Requiem.
Angle, when he took the stand, corroborated much of what Ensslin had said. Unlike Ensslin, he thought he saw a knife in Severson's pocket. He explained that when he left the church for his truck, he could see Severson from his rear view mirror "like a wild man flailing his hands" in the parking lot. Defense attorney George Heitczman tried to suggest that Angle had somehow provoked Severson by nodding "Hello" to him in the church. Angle explained that, as an elected official, he often says "Hello" to people he does not know. "If I see someone, I say 'hello.' It's the courteous thing to do."
After Angle was finished, so was Deputy AG Constanzo, who kept his case short and sweet. This was a surprise to defense attorney Heitczman, who had to scramble to get his witnesses together. He called two elderly gentleman and a pleasant older woman who could not even hear the oath as it was being administered to them. Obviously deaf, they heard nothing and actually sat in the front of the church.
The defense also called the funeral director, who acknowledged some sort of ruckus. He "heard two men speaking loudly - could hear it while a reading was going on." Not exactly helpful to the defense.
Severson's wife also testified. Naturally, she heard nothing.
Then Heitczman made the mistake of putting Severson on the stand, and Constanzo was like a kid in a candy shop, asking all sorts of questions about Severson's business practices. You see, Constanzo knows all about Severson's work for Tony Ryback when he ran against Joe Brennan for the state house. Uh oh. He knows all about Severson's work for the Northampton County Dems last fall. Severson insists he's been paid, but the most recent finance report shows he's still owed $7,000. Uh oh. Constanzo knows all about the California corporation Severson set up to keep his work for Democrats on the "down low." Severson claims he owns the company, but California records show a different name and the corporation is listed as "suspended." Uh oh. Constanzo even knows about the $9,000 that Senate Republicans pay Severson monthly. Uh oh.
If a Senior Deputy AG knew this much about me, I'd be wearing Depends right now.
When Constanzo returned to the case, Severson did nothing to help himself. He was forced to admit that (1) he actually makes knives as a hobby; (2) told Angle he was going to get him; (3) had given Ron the bird inside a church; (4) had tossed out "Fuck yous" repeatedly; (5) had intimidated an elderly gentleman in front of him; and (6) had approached Ensslin and promised to destroy her politically.
All inside a church.
During a funeral mass.
Why did he do this? He was provoked. Angle said "Hello" to him. Of course, Severson now claims he only intended to "get" Ron in a political, and not physical, sense.
Just like during the Requiem, Severson could not keep his mouth shut.
This case is being heard by a Chester County Senior Judge Charles Smith because, at one time or another, Severson has worked for half the court. Like Pontius Pilate, Judge Smith has a habit of rubbing his hands together with lotion throughout the trial, as though the whole thing is one dirty mess.
And it is. The case will wrap up today. No matter what the outcome may be, Scissorhands Severson's legal troubles appear to be just beginning.