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Nazareth, Pa., United States

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Severson's Strange Switchblades & Stabs

Last week, I told you all about Tom Severson, the King of Sleazeball Politics. He's currently under investigation by Attorney General Tom Corbett for possible election law violations. One item being considered is Severson's "anonymous" smear campaign against district judge candidate Brian Monahan.

Severson's sleaze campaign was a solo affair - he represented no candidate. Ever wonder why Severson had such a hot nut for Monahan? Today, I got my answer. You see, Monahan had the temerity to represent one of Severson's former employees in an unemployment case. Thanks to our Right to Know laws, I finally got my dirty little hands on the file. Severson likes to talk about stabbing and killing his enemies, pulls knives on office workers and scared an employee away by threatening to stab him, too. Incidentally, his connection to MJR Services, Inc. is established, which he used to hide his work for Democrats.

Below you will see a portion of the transcript. The referee is R. The claimant is C. His attorney is CL. And Severson's attorney is EL. Incidentally, Severson's attorney just happens to be Jay Leeson, whose office notarized the independent "John Doe" financial report of the subsequent campaign against Monahan.

A Little Background

CL You filed the Petition for unemployment compensation and ultimately an appeal. What company were you employed with regarding this appeal?

C Precision Marketing in Easton, Pennsylvania.

CL And according to your -- the president was Mr. Severson?

C That's correct.

CL What was your role at the company?

C I did a variety of jobs. I was — on my business card I'm the director of operations but I've done quite a few different jobs there.

CL When did you begin your employment with Precision Marketing?

C Back in 1998.

CL In August of 1998?

C I believe it was in August.

CL And what was your last date of employment at Precision Marketing?

C It was October 18, 2005.

CL And how were you paid?

C I was on salary.

CL What was your salary at the time of your leaving, your separation?

C $875.

Severson Brags About Stabbing His Enemies and Killing Them

CL Okay. Now, concerning your separation, could you explain to Referee Geld what circumstances lead to your leaving the company, leaving your employment?

C Well, the circumstances, the initial circumstance was we were sitting down eating lunch one day and Mr. Severson was discussing, talking about his enemies and how eventually he would destroy them. And he pointed to another employee and he asked him, do you believe that I would do this and this employee said...

EL Objection, as to what the employee said. That's hearsay testimony.

R Response?

CL I think it's — what did Mr. Severson say? What did Mr. Severson do and say?

C All right. Mr. Severson said that he would one day stab these people and kill them. And I said to Mr. Severson, I said to him, you better be careful because maybe one day you'll pull a knife on somebody and they might turn it against you. And I said this for two reasons. The first reason, by his own admittance, he did actually pull a knife on a campaign...

EL Objection. This is not germane to what happened on the day of the lunch meeting, Mr. Potts.

R Which the which date has not yet been established.

CL Correct. I believe the testimony...

R I think it might need to be established. I'm going to sustain the objection but give you the opportunity to lay a foundation.

CL Sure. On what date was your final date of employment?

C Was October 18.

CL And that was the same date as the lunch you're talking about?

C Yes.

CL Okay. Now, the incident which you're referring to where you indicated Mr. Severson admitted pulling a knife. Do you know when that occurred?

C That occurred on a campaign about four years ago.

CL Now, let me — you said the reason you responded as you did...

C Because I think he's capable of pulling a knife on people, yes.

EL Objection. That's a statement of opinion. It's not a statement of fact.

C The reason...

EL [inaudible], Your Honor, [inaudible] be stricken from the record.

R And response?

CL My response is that I believe it's admissible. One because the admission, I believe is germane because it goes to the state of mind on why [claimant] would believe this is an actual threat as opposed to someone just talking.

R Are you going to link that up to the reason that he left the company?

CL Exactly, that's what I'm...

R All right. Over-ruled with that promise of link up.

CL Let me ask you/ when you heard this talk of the knife...

C Right.

CL ...did you take this seriously?

EL I'm going to object, Your Honor, to this talk about a knife. This is hearsay testimony.

CL It's an admission ...

EL This individual was not a witness to any type of incident of the nature described. Now they're trying to take hearsay and build a case based on hearsay.

CL I believe that the testimony was that Mr. Severson made this statement which makes it an admission. It's not hearsay.

R I understand that.

CL It's certainly not hearsay at this point. It's a...

R Then your last question asked him about his feelings?

CL His feeling, why he...

R Over-ruled.

CL ...believed it was a threat.

R Over-ruled.

CL And I'll re-state the question. You believed this threat to be a real threat?

C I believe he is capable of pulling a knife on somebody, yes.

CL And why?

C Well, another incident occurred...

EL Objection, Your Honor. Unless this individual was an eyewitness and that has not been in relation to...

C 1 am an eyewitness to this other...

R Well, I'm not sure the question was completed but you can start the question again.

Severson Threatens to Stab Employee

CL You indicated Mr. Severson at some point told you something about another, what did he tell you?

C Let me get my thoughts back in order please.

CL Sure.

C Mr. Severson asked me then that if I were to — that if he were to pull a knife on me, would I turn it back against him and I said yes, I would. The reasons being because I know he might put me into that situation one day. He then said, well, then one day I'm going to sneak up behind you and stab you and I became very upset and angry. I left the lunch table, went back to my office, I took a deep breath. Something inside said, it's time to get out. It's time to leave here. So I got up. I walked out, I threw him his keys, I told him I don't work for assholes. I turned around and left and he yelled, "fuck you" as I walked out the door.

CL Now, I'm going to ask you again. You indicated that you perceived this to be an actual threat?

C Yes.

CL And you perceived it because of past incidents?

Severson Pulls Knife on Another Employee

C Yes. About a month before that, Mr. Severson had a little tiff with another employee.

CL Were you present for this incident?

C Yes, I was. I was not present for what he was mad at the other employee for. But it was at the lunch table.

CL Then only tell the...

C I'll only tell him what I saw, what I observed.

EL I'm going to object as to something with another employee because unless we get into the circumstances about whether this other incident was, in fact, an employee, whether there was kidding, whether there was jesting, has taken it terribly out of context. There's no foundation for this type of testimony.

R Well, at this time I think it's premature to make that objection. If that is a valid objection, then you can renew it afterwards then the testimony will be stricken at that point. So I'll allow you to renew but I think the objection is premature at this point. Proceed.

C All right. So we were eating lunch and the employee was eating a sandwich and Mr. Severson walked up, flipped open the knife, lunged the knife toward the back of the employee's neck, it was maybe about an inch away from the back of his neck, starting giggling and went into the men's room. And while that employee was eating lunch, if he would have leaned back at that moment, I believe he would have definitely got hurt.

EL Now, Your Honor I'm going to move to strike because by the witness' own testimony, Mr. Severson, assuming this is true, which we're not conceding that point, but assuming it is, Mr. Severson's giggling is as if this is some type of a joke by the witness' own testimony, the reference to giggling.

R I think that goes to credibility rather than admissibility.

C I'm just...

R And you'll certainly be given full opportunity for a cross. Over-ruled.

CL And you indicated previously Mr. Severson had told you something about an incident involving a knife.

C Yes, that was during a campaign.

R I think at this point I'm going to interject with a question or two.

C Sure.

R You say a campaign. What type of campaign?

C It was a political campaign for somebody running for an office.

R And how is the company involved?

C The company was running the campaign for the client.

CL I guess, just for the Referee's — what did the company do? I think that would be...

C Yes, the company is a political consulting firm.

R I see. Can you share the name of the candidate or is that confidential?

C The candidates always treated me very well and I prefer not to but if I have to...

R Well, was this for a municipal office, a state office, a federal office?

C This is for a state office.

R A state office. All right. Good enough. And the employee or co-worker who was in the lunchroom on the incident that you testified to, will that person remain anonymous?

C I prefer not to get the other employees involved, Your Honor. I've done that — I was very reluctant to even have to tell the unemployment office this.

CL Honestly, I would ask at this point that you provide the name because I think it's...

R Well, I think it goes to whether or not the employer will have a fair turn of rebuttal.

CL I do too so I would advise you to provide the name.

R And we do have — if you want to, we can exclude the young lady in the back and I'm not sure that she's necessary now if we want any further degree of in camera privacy so to speak. And certainly the immunity in these type of hearings but if you want to exclude her, by all means.

EL Would you prefer we have the — just yourself...

R I'll just leave counsel and the two primary principals.

CL The Referee, actually he can have — get a witness excluded when you describe who the other employee is or are you just going to tell him?

C No, at this point, I'll go ahead and tell you. Okay? Marylou was there.

R All right.

C Okay. Also Sheryl Dorcius [ph], I believe her last name is. She was there. She's a graphic designer. And it's a very small company. And myself was there and a new gentleman that just started by the name of Dan was there. I can't remember his last name.

CL Now, who was the employee who the knife was waived near?

C You're talking — I'm sorry.

CL Yeah..

C I was referring to the incident when I left. All right.

CL You referred to the incident once, who was present for that?

C Yeah, just who I told him. The incident at the luncheon, when I left are those people who were there.

CL The incident with the knife when you observed...

C Right, when I observed that knife. The only other person there was Marylou.

CL Okay.

C She was sitting to the left of me.

CL And who did he put the knife towards?

C It was Tim Butler.

CL Okay.

R His position?

C Pardon?

R His position with the company?

C I believe he's the vice-president of the company.

R Go on.

Severson Brags About Pulling Knife on Campaign Worker

CL Now, I was asking you, there were statements made by Mr. Severson regarding pulling a knife on somebody, did you want to testify to that?

C Yes, that's -- during this campaign, there was a campaign worker who evidently shredded and destroyed registrations from the opposing, party...

EL I'm going to object to this kind of testimony. You know, about a campaign worker for some candidate doing something that has nothing to do with this case.

R All right. It's a relevancy objection.

CL If you could just get to the point of...

C All right.

CL I think I asked [inaudible] Mr. Severson advised you regarding...

C Mr. Severson often relayed the story about him chasing this campaign worker out of the office with a knife.

CL. And based upon these episodes you just described, that's what lead you to believe this was a real threat to you?

C Yes, I believe — the threat, is I believe he's capable of putting me in a position by pulling a knife on me.

R The campaign worker, was the campaign worker an employee or a volunteer?

C He was a volunteer for the campaign.

R Okay. And he was suspected of some type of misconduct on the campaign?

C That is correct. And he came in to confront Mr. Severson about it and that's when that incident occurred.

CL Now, regarding your separation, this is a voluntary termination because you concede that this wasn't a firing?

C Yes. Yeah, I lost my temper, I became very angry and I left, yes.

CL Now, were there any other factors that led to your leaving the company beside those you've already related to the Referee?

Severson Demanded Employee to Forge Signature to Hide Connection to MJR

C There were a few other factors. There was another incident — you know, I have to explain the whole situation in order to get to the point I'm trying to make. Sometimes the company does work for the opposing party and...

R In the same campaign?

C No, on different campaigns but... I

R Are you saying the company is exclusive or not exclusive or primarily [inaudible] from one party?

C The company sometimes hides the fact that it deals with the Democratic Party.

R Is that a significant thing in this trade or business? In other words, do clients expect a marketing firm to only work for candidates of one party?

EL Well, Your Honor, can I just object because this individual is not in a position to deal with the clients of the firm. And may I also object to...

CL All right.

EL Well, not that this is really germane to the lunch incident where he stormed out and lost his temper.

R Wall, I think my questions are relevant to the point that's being brought up.

C [inaudible]

R And it's starting a second ground.

CL Correct. Where I'm going is, essentially, that certainly the one incident was the tip of the iceberg.

R And, obviously, there's been no foundation yet laid. Perhaps as I had noted before we began the testimony sometimes I do ask questions that maybe you would have explained a little later but, you know, this is something that I don't think I can take judicial notice of, the workings of this industry or trade. And that may be relevant to the testimony, so again, I'm going to over-rule the objection to my question. How is that significant, Mr. [claimant]?

C Okay. It's significant because I was asked to forge a client's name on a mailing statement. The situation is there is a company that sub-leases space with Precision Marketing and they are also a mailer in their own right. During this campaign, the other company was using their...

R What do you mean by other company?

C Yeah, the company that leases from Precision Marketing.

CL Who are they just so...

C It's MJR Services.

R Do they have anything to do with the trade of politics and campaigns?

C No, I believe they were doing it as a favor until the client started writing out checks to this other company and there was a little...

R The client is the candidate?

C The candidates, right. And the only...

R To a tenant of Precision Marketing?

C I'm sorry?

R Someone who leased space? MJR is a tenant?

C Yes.

R ...of Precision Marketing?

C Yes. Okay. And what happened was, the people who would take' care of her financial business said she shouldn't be taking these checks. So she refused to take the checks and then she refused to sign the mailing permit. I couldn't sign the mailing permit because I was an employee of Precision Marketing and people know that and so I was in a — I didn't know what to do for this mailing. I went up to see Mr. Severson and I asked him, I said, would you mind having the client sign this mailing perm.it. And he said, you just forge his name on it. And I told him, I'm not comfortable doing that. I said, he's your friend, why don't you forge his name on it?

R Maybe I'll need a little more foundation to understand what's going on because I don't know what a mailing permit is.

C A mailing permit is what you have to give to the post office, which tells the post office the price of the mail and how many pieces are in the mail.

R Is that used in bulk mail?

C Yes, it's used in bulk mail.

R Okay. Now, how does — what was the relationship here between your tenant, MJR Services, and the client?

C What do you mean by that?

CL What was MJR's role? I mean, why is...

R This bulk mailing permit.

C Yes. MJR was using their permit because he did not want people to know that he was doing Democratic campaigns.

CL Now, when you say he, Mr. Severson?

C Mr. Severson, yes.

R I see.

CL And so he asked you to sign your name?

C He asked me to sign the client's name on the postal permit.

EL Your Honor, I'm going to object again. The last time I checked, you know, even business has available [inaudible] the United States and this MJR company, to the extent of choosing to work for Democrats, what's the relevance of this entire line of questioning?

CL The relevance is that he was asked to forge a document in which...

R Well, in terms of the objection to relevance, there's been no been timeline established and I think. I'd like to consider that on the objection...

CL And when did...

R ...so take that under advisement.

CL When did this incident occur?

C I believe it was two years ago.

R Would counsel like to — do you still have the objection?

EL I still object.

R Counsel like to argue that objection in terms of the potential remoteness of the incident?

CL Sure! I think that's certainly a consideration, however, I think in this circumstance it's certainly relevant. I don't know that things have to -- we're basically deciding the sole issue, whether there's a necessitous and compelling reason for the voluntary termination of Mr. [claimant's] employment. I think a pattern of conduct, as well as perhaps an isolated incident.,,

R Well, is there going to be any evidence of more recent incidents that offended his ethical — which I understand that's what this would go to, his ethical sense?

EL Right.

CL I don't believe that there's any more recent than this.

C No, this was the most recent one when I was asked to actually forge somebody's name on the mailing permit.

R Did you do it?

C No, I did not. What he said to me, he got angry, he said, just go sign his fucking name and get the fuck back to work. But I didn't because of the incident with the other campaign, how he left this other campaign worker on the limb
and when he confronted him...

R Well, [inaudible] but I'm not going to rule it inadmissible because of the remoteness, however, I certainly will allow only cross but opportunity to argue in closing argument as to the relevance of a two-year old incident.

CL Let me ask you, Mr. [claimant] at that point, you indicated you were somewhat offended by the request, why didn't you leave or separate your employment at that time?

C Because I needed my job and, for the most part, I enjoyed my job at that point.
Later today, I'll publish the Findings of Fact from the state's Unemployment Compesnsation Board of Review.


Anonymous said...

Fascinating! This guy is bizarre.

Anonymous said...

Anon - Fascinating for sure, but also very scary. I'm worried for you, Bernie. This guy is completely off his rocker.

Chris Casey said...

This is the guy Republicans, (and some misguided Democrats) want running their campaigns. I'm no shrink, but I would be willing to take a wild guess, and wonder aloud if he is more than three bricks shy of a load. Watch your back Bernie, he's a knife nut, and they are the worst kind when it comes to delusions of power.

Anonymous said...

Chris, I thought it was the Republican party that pushed the AG to investigate. I'm not sure a blanket statement like that is appropriate.

Bernie O'Hare said...


No worries. I can run faster than him.

Free Speech said...

Rare to agree with the Blogmeister, but thank you for your public service.

Follow the bags of money---severson/leeson/morganelli etc....

And Jay pretends to be holier than thou...he represents the Diocese of Allentown, after all. How can his Excellency the Bishop feel that his attorney is linked to the unindicted felon severson?

Keep up the good work....Leeson and Morganelli are at the heart of Severson's local link. He paid off the Hburg Republicans long ago (meaning state senate campaign committee)

Chris Casey said...

LV Housewife, I meant no offense to Republicans as a whole, but look at the campaign finance reports. Dent uses Precision Marketing, as does every republican local state rep. I also noted misguided Dems use him, as Bernie has documented. If you want to use negativity to win, use Precision marketing.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Dent uses Precision Marketing, as does every republican local state rep.

Chris, This statement is inaccurate. So far as I know, Dent has never used Severeson. Moreover, in the last state senate race, one of the candidates that Severson worked for was Democrat Lisa Boscola.

Severson does a lot of work for the republican state committee, and I think that is the source of much of his income. But the truth is he actually works for the Almighty Dollar, and as LVHW correctly notes, it is the Rs who are raising hell about him.

Anonymous said...

Bernie, I accept your clarification of my statement, but it remains that the State Republican party has used Severson on Dent's behalf. I'm more than willing to wait for Charlie Dent to disavow that. I have Dertinger trashing flyers at home that if I'm not mistaken were done by Precision Marketing. The findings in your later post state that Severson works for Republicans on the whole, but is greedy, and tried to hide that he worked for Democrats. blogger won't let me sign in- Chris Casey

Bernie O'Hare said...

I have Dertinger trashing flyers at home that if I'm not mistaken were done by Precision Marketing.

Chris, You are mistaken. Those mailers were not done by Precision Marketing or Severson.

Jake said...

Why aren't the local papers doing this kind of reporting?

Anonymous said...

Bernie - I have worked on many campaigns and was brought in to a meeting with Severson by the candidate, who Severson had gotten all fired up ("your gonna WIN, WIN, WIN!).

The "meeting" was a disaster with Severson saying that he was in charge of all aspects of the campaign. In the end I, and everyone else in the inner circle of the campaign, decided that if Severson were involved we would not be. Common sense on behalf of the candidate prevailed and Severson was out and never mentioned again. We went on to win in a very positive campaign of ideas.

Now, with all of that said I am getting to my point: Towards the end of the meeting Severson went in to a full-blown Vietnam flashback. He was there again and they were coming through the jungle. The look in his eyes and the way he was speaking scared the crap out of me. He was reliving the jungle war right in front of us play-by-play. I couldn't wait to get out of the meeting.

BTW, he also told the candidate that if I was involved in the campaign, he wouldn't be...

Bernie O'Hare said...

Fascinating story. Now how many guesses do I get to name you? :-)

Even though this is a lengthy post, I kept it as short as I could. If you read the entire transcrit, you might get a few flashbacks yourself!

Anonymous said...

Please don't name me Bernie. Or I'll cut you. Bad.

We've never met personally, but I was looking up some records recently and wanted to introduce myself, but didn't bump into you.

If it helps, I am usually outnumbered, and outmonied in Easton; but I keep trying.

I enjoy your blog immensely.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Anon 2:34,

Don't worry. Some day when you're at the courthouse, look me up. Thanks for the nice words. It's comments from knowledgable people like yourself that make it informative.