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Nazareth, Pa., United States

Monday, June 28, 2010

The Judges and Curious George

Courthouse insiders can see that judicial tipstaffs are paid full-time for part-time jobs. Some judges themselves rarely put in a full day, something you can easily determine for yourself by looking at their empty reserved parking spots.

But what about other judicial employees? Do they put in a full forty hours? Probably most of them do, but it's very hard to provide the oversight that is very common with other County workers. Once you ask too many questions, the phrase "judicial discretion" is uttered, which is kinda' like dipolmatic immunity on a local level. So when you ask whether law clerks really work forty hours a week, everyone gets all indignant and insulted.

But last year, Controller Steve Barron was given a glimpse into the inner workings of judicial employees when he looked at what was going on at the DUI Center. He refuses to discuss it with me, and I've only pieced this together as a result of what I've heard after I began writing about tipstaffs. It reveals that tipstaffs are not the only judicial employees getting paid for nothing. Let me tell you the story of Curious George.

Back in 1989, then DA Don Corriere created a DUI Center for the efficient processing of suspected drunk drivers. The courts ended up supervising the Center until 2007, when it dawned on them that if they are the bosses, they could hardly be called neutral and detached arbiters of the findings made at the DUI Center. Former Sheriff Jeff Hawbecker got stuck supervising the Center, but it was too much of a headache, and he shoved it off on DA John Morganelli in 2008.

When that happened, Controller Steve Barron could actually able to review the payments made to county workers who at one time worked under the supervision of the Courts. That's how he learned about Curious George Bruneio, who worked there.

How Bruneio got the job is anybody's guess. Some say he took a test. Others claim he's pals with Deputy Court Administrator Jill Cicero and her husband.

One thing is certain. He does pretty well for himself. Curious George was paid $46,804.76 in 2007. In addition to a base pay of $36,246.78, he received $1,376.46 in vacation, $1,452.93 in holidays, $841.17 in personal days, $1,000 in longevity pay and a whopping $5,887.42 for on-call time. Oh yeah, he also drove to and from the DUI Center in an County-owned car.

So what's the big deal? We have a full-time employee who makes a bit extra. So what?

Well, Curious George has another full-time job, too. You see, in addition to telling people to repeat the alphabet at the DUI Center, he's also Freemansburg's full-time police chief. The courts claimed George was an exempt salaried employee, kinda' like tipstaffs. But if that is so, how the hell did he get nearly $6,000 in oncall time in 2007?

Bruneio got on-call time pretty consistently over the years.

2004: 308 hours at $5,391.54.
2005: 406 hours at $7,427.73.
2006: 504 hours at $9,427.32.
2007: 308 hours at $5,887.42.

That totals $28,134.01 above and beyond the regular pay of a County worker, and one who just happens to be Freemansburg's full-time police chief. It is very questionable whether Curious George was always on-call in that way. I am sure there is a lack of documentation.

When DA Morganelli took over the DUI Center operations in 2008, he stopped the on-call pay to Bruneio.

Despite a directive from County Exec John Stoffa, Curious George continued to drive a County car back and forth from home to work. His home, incidentally, is in Springtown, Bucks County. That continued until a few months ago, when the DA grabbed the car for one of his detectives.

Now, if you haven't decided about Curious George yet, listen to the story told by phlebotomist Gidget Mock. She worked under Bruneio at the DUI Center between 2003 and 2005, and ultimately sued on claims that he and others sexually harassed her. When she told Bruneio, he twice directed her to report to his Freemansburg office. No part of the DUI Center is located there. Here's her version, as summed up by a federal judge.
"In February or March of 2004, Mock went to see Bruneio at his office in Freemansburg to complain about the inappropriate behavior of Marshall and McClymont. When Mock walked into his office, Bruneio got up from his seat, and acted like he was going to close the door behind her. Instead, he cornered Mock, and asked her if she was wearing a padded bra.

"Mock told Bruneio that she did not appreciate his comment. She also stated at that time that she wanted all the comments about her lingerie to stop. In a later incident, Bruneio attempted to touch her breasts when he walked past her in a corridor at the DUI Center.

"In August, 2004, Mock again met with Bruneio at his Freemansburg office, and during this meeting, Bruneio made contact with her breast. Like the previous encounter earlier in the year, Mock entered the office, and Bruneio got up to shut the door. After closing it, Bruneio escorted Mock to a chair, and touched her breast while doing so. Mock attested to the fact that Bruneio said after he touched her breast that he was happy to know that she was not wearing a padded bra that day. Further, when Mock then got up to leave, Bruneio acted like he was going to 'smack [her] ass' as she walked by him. Mock said that Bruneio frequently acted like he was going to 'smack [her] ass.'"
The County ultimately settled with Mock for close to $80,000. Curious George still works for the County.

Whether it is bogus hours or sexual harassment, this is what you can expect when one branch of government refuses to allow the kinds of oversight common everywhere else. It creates an atmosphere of corruption in which the kids-for-cash scheme conmcocted by two Luzerne County judges becomes all too possible.

Northampton County Coubncil President Ron Angle has called a special meeting of the County's Finance Committee on Wednesday at 1 PM to discuss this "judicial discretion" gone awry. Controller Barron has been invited.


Anonymous said...

So instead of leaking this old tired story to you, why doesn't Barron pursue it? He doesn't need anyone's permission, he's an independently elected official. He is part of Joe Longs Kiddie Corps along with Dertinger and McClure. It's part of his job description to check this out. He is a young Demo pol who is already running for another office and doesn't want to rock the boat.

I see he is feeding you backdoor shit instead. That old case was settled and you are really pushing the $80K number? It was costing the County a ton because she wanted to sue everybody, they paid her to go away as is often done. The lesser of two evils.

It will be interesting to see if Barron has the balls to get into this openly. Other then his little tales to you, he hasn't wanted to take on any big issues so as not to cause him political damage for the future.

We all know Angle is in this to screw the Courts. He is pissed and this is how he acts when he is mad. Charlie Chaplain could have patterned his "Little Dictator" character on Angle, it would have been spot on.

Stop making like old news and a sneaky little politically ambitious controller are uncovering big issues. What a joke. So now it is open season on every employee in the Court system. When you started to hate union members who dared question Stoffa you and Angle attacked them as well. If you two could ever funnel your energy into something productive you would not be considered the azzholes everyone knows you are. You wonder why this Administration is a joke. You and Angle are it's foundation. Good Grief and Great Caesar's Ghost!

I will wait to read Mr. Barron's official report. Like that will ever get written.

Tim not a troll

Anonymous said...


Barron I am sure can't comment on personnel matters. It appears from the post Barron refused to talk to Bernie. Kudos to Barron for handling this like all personnel matters should be handled.

Barron apparently did rock the boat and got results. Getting the car taken away and eliminating his on-call time is doing his job and I am sure would be part of any report. Seriously you are a toll of the worst kind. One who does not read the post!

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Bernie O'Hare said...

Tim, aka 3 AM troll, aka Daday,

If you'd like to staty your own blog, do so. It's likely to last less long than your job asa county emplyee bc you attack too many people. Your comment attacking my reader has been deleted.

Anonymous said...

You know what Bernie, what woman in her right mind knowing the man had an issue would walk into his office
Come On. Something Smells.

Anonymous said...

The "two-timing" chief and county employee has a great gig. Excellent reporting.

Anonymous said...

Corruption is never "old news".

Bernie O'Hare said...

Matbe. But why is she going to F-burg ... twice? No County offices there? Was this guy getting paid as police chief and DUI Center employee at the same time?

Anonymous said...

Great job. Our papers SUCK.

Anonymous said...

How can Bruneio still be on the County payroll? This is out and out theft, and by a cop. By the way, Bernie, better stay out of Freemansburg.

Chris Casey said...

Barron is not part of any kiddie corps, he is his own man. He was the original person (as Northampton Dem Treasurer)who questioned it when Joe Long ordered him to pay Tom Severson for services.
Steve has something the trolls don't, and it is called courage. He doesn't just talk about good government, he practices it.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Well said, Chris.

Anonymous said...

Hey Chris, did he write and sign the check? simple question, yes or no?

You don't know Norco Dem politics. So your personal endorsement is meaningless.

Anonymous said...

Barron wrote the check I would guess, but when he realized he was lied to about the services he reported it to the proper authorities. That takes courage and conviction. The Long Dems blog trolls never stop providing entertainment.

Bernie O'Hare said...

"Hey Chris, did he write and sign the check? simple question, yes or no?

You don't know Norco Dem politics. So your personal endorsement is meaningless."

I see. We should take some anon as Gospel and ignore everything from someone who knows local politics and identifies himself.

Yeah, that makes sense.


Spin said...

"I see. We should take some anon as Gospel and ignore everything from someone who knows local politics and identifies himself."

Yet you take a bitter woman who is trying to make a quick buck and what she says as gospel??

That make you no better than him!!

Bernie O'Hare said...

Who says she's bitter? Who says I take what she says as Gospel? And at least she identified herself while you hide under your rock likt the coward you are.


Anonymous said...

Simple question. Rather than the answer Bernie employs deflection and attack. Question still stands was check written and signed by treasurer. Or did this man of conviction refuse and resign as a Party Officer and expose the sham.

Or did he wait till the heat came on and then ran from the Kiddie Korps like Hell.
There is "perceived" moral backbone and then there is what someone actually does with no excuses to hide behind.

Chris Casey said...

Anon, Steve did write the check, but if you read the testimony you will see that he expressed reservations about it AT THAT TIME.
He didn't hide from anything. What is your excuse, anon? Some people post anon to protect their positions, you do it to keep from being exposed as a coward.

Bernie O'Hare said...

I'm sick of the 3 AM troll and his constant hatred of Stoffa, Angle, and apprently, Steve Barron. Barron must be in hot water bc he supported Stoffa, so the 3 AM troll tries to paint him like a crook just as he's eve tried to make Stoffa look like a crook.

Any reader with a different view is personally attacked. But unlike Barron or Chris Casey, this pathetic little loser crawls out from under his rock, posts his hate anonymously and then slithers away. He is too much of a coward to identify himself.

3 AM Troll, I'm pretty sure you're former Reibman staffer Bob Daday. I heard he was crazy and listened to some of his inane remarks before he ran off fdrom WGPA. Stoffa has many enemies, but your brand of cuckoo is in a separate category.

You will not identify yourself bc you know that the rest of us know you have an axe to grind. Also, when you don't ID yourself, you can post outright lies and defamation, as you've already done to Stoffa and Angle. You even post disgusting remarks about me and my grandson.

But here's the thing. You have no credibility. You make Angle and Stoffa look good because people who might otherwuise hate them begin to feel sorry for them.

You're a sad and very little person.

Anonymous said...

i guess what really puzzles me is that , no oe knew about any of this before now ? how can happen ? isn't it just common sense that a person can't possibly work 80 hours a week and be on call to ? will the chief have to pay any of these monies back ? is he still doing this ? what a shame a chief whose a thief , i can't wait to see if anything comes of this or if it will get swept under a rug, keep us posted bernie ~~ great job !

Anonymous said...

Brunieo never worked full time hours, but yet benefited from being hidden in the Courts budgeting. If you are a supervisor employed by the County, then you should not be getting OT. But the Court Administrators Office hid these facts within their budget. They took care of their own, just like the tipstaffs. They were complicate for all those years. Yet, no one will investigate them and they will get away with theft. They go by their own rules, not the law.

Anonymous said...

well the rest of the world has to live by the law that includes police , if there was wrong doing here he should be formally charged and have to Pay back every red cent he stole .

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Bernie O'Hare said...

The anonymous troll who attacked Casey and Barropn has been deleted. As indicated, I'm nearly certin this is Bob Daday, the former Reibman hack who tried to collect unemployment under Stoffa. Whenever I make that suggestion, he purposely mis spells the name and claims he has no idea who that could be, yet he knows all about Tom Harp and so much else.

I do not allow anonmymous personal attacks. If Daday or whoever this troll is does not like that, he can start his own blog.

Anonymous said...

Who is Tom Harp? and why should we care?