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Friday, January 20, 2017

Brown and NorCo Council Continue Radio Silence Over Ex Adoption Supervisor



In July of last year, Grace Packer's life was brutally taken from her. She was given sleeping pills that failed to work, after which a man admits to have raped and sexually abused her, as his sexually aroused girlfriend watched. After that, she was forced to take a lethal dose of sleeping pills, but she threw up. The couple left her in a third floor attic, bound and gagged, assuming the heat would kill her. When that failed, the man put his arms around her from behind and "squeezed the life out of her." After this brutal act, the loving couple packed Grace in kitty litter and later sawed her desiccated remains and scattered them in Luzerne County, where they were discovered by hunters on Halloween.

Thankfully, that loving couple is now behind bars. What was not generally known until recently is that accused murderer Sara Packer, who was Grace's adopting mother, was an employee of NorCo's Children, Youth and Families (CYF) Division. In fact, she was the adoption supervisor, and was also a foster mother to about 30 children from Berks and Lehigh County. She was also a foster mother to a child from Northampton County.

While the print media yawned and prepared for Christmas, WFMZ-TV69 and NBC10 were tracking down the rumor that Packer had at onetime been Northampton County's adoption supervisor. Deanna Durante reported this on December 28, and WFMZ-TV69 made the connection even earlier, on December 23.

Durante had been making inquiries with the county since early December, and had run into a stone wall. Calls went unreturned. Then she was misled and told that the County has no employee named Sara Packer, without telling her that Packer had been fired in 2010. After hitting roadblocks everywhere she went, she called every member of Northampton County Council. Ken Kraft told her to speak to Controller Steve Barron, and he connected the dots and provided her with information that the public had every right to know.

"Basically, no one else would speak," Barron explained."I would."

After about a week of publicity on local television stations, it finally dawned on print media that this just might be a story. So they joined the chorus of voices with all kinds of questions for the John Brown administration.. Administrator Cathy Allen issued a two sentence news release that failed to do anything to reassure the public about CYF. This silence continued in the face of claims of ineptness in CYF by a recently retired supervisor. It continued as it became known that Sara Packer's termination was clearly related to allegations of abuse involving Grace, which included the prosecution of Sara's now ex-husband for sexually abusing Grace when she was about nine years old.

Every day another shoe would drop.

Yesterday, Bethlehem Attorney and NorCo Exec candidate Lamont McClure took Brown to task:

"The County administration has been very slow to explain how this alleged person involved in this horrible death was in charge of adoptions in this county. This Executive has yet to fully explain and put the people of Northampton County at ease with respect to what her role was, what she did, what cases she handled, and the people of Northampton County are entitled to an answer."

One month after Packer's NorCo connection established,
Brown releases a statement
Three hours later, as political reality began to set in, Brown finally released a statement, a day late and a dollar short. In it, he disingenuously defends CYF after having already thrown that department under the bus."They have been hung out to dry by this administration," said Barron."They are too good for that. The supervisors deserve much, much better than what this administration gave them, and quite honestly, he owes them an apology. He owes the taxpayers an apology. I'm sick of the radio silence when simple questions are asked."

It was thought that answers would come later, when the Human Services Committee was scheduled to meet.In fact, NBC10's Deanna Durante came to that meeting, looking for answers.

She was answered with more radio silence.

The agenda failed to include a single mention of CYF or the Sara Packer case. Human Services Director Allison Frantz was nowhere to be found, and CYF Director Kevin Dolan was MIA as well. Allison Frantz had sent a memo to CYF staff, telling them to seek a "healthy resolution to the shock of these events,"  but failed to speak up for them when they needed her.

A tenacious Durante went right up to the podium and began asking Council members what they are doing. The answer, quite clearly, is nothing.

"Does anybody like to answer her question?" said Chairman Seth Vaughn, with what certainly looked like a smirk on his face.

"If I may, I think that's more of a legal issue that we shouldn't touch," said an evasive Mat Benol, notwithstanding a plaque of the Ten Commandments behind him,instructing that he be truthful.

Durante: "Any concern from any of you on the fact that she handled the county's children and now we know today that one child from Northampton County was placed in her care as a foster mother?" continued Durante.

Benol said that's something the Solicitor should address. In other words, circle the wagons.

Durante: "This is the Committee that oversees health and human services, is it not?"  

Benol: "I would refer all questions to our Solicitor."

Durante: "How about as taxpayers, as parents, as community members, do you have anything you want to say?"

Benol: "Unfortunately, when I'm on this side of the dais, I'm going to refrain from any comment."

Durante: "So when you walk to this side, you'll give me an interview and give me a comment?"

He agreed, but I'm unclear whether that happened. Benol is usually busy after meetings, hiding his Ten Commandments plaque so Ken Kraft does not steal it.

Later that night, when the full County Council met, Durante was rebuffed a second time while The Morning Call's Tom Shortell huffed on Twitter, "Traditional media doesn't typically speak during public comment." Maybe that's because traditional media have had their heads up their asses while Durante ran circles around them. Traditional media should ask more questions, and if it has to be at courtesy of the floor, so what?

Durante also peppered Brown with questions, including why he ignored her for three weeks. He continued to ignore her.

Though Council members had no time or inclination to discuss the murder and rape of a 15 year-old child, they had all the time in the world for a group of anti-shit people from the Wind Gap area opposed to Synagro's proposed shit bakery at the Waste Management landfill. NorCo Council has absolutely no authority to interfere in these matters of local concern, but they apparently never shit themselves and wanted the entire world to know that they oppose shit. There will likely be a resolution at the next meeting in which a majority will declare that they hate shit.

But they were unwilling to explain to the public (1) how many CYF caseworkers are out there; (2) what their caseload is like; (3) how many hours they work daily; (4) whether interviews are being conducted with every family that Sara Packer touched; what the educational requirements are for a CYF worker; (5) what kind of certifications are needed; (6) how many hours of continuing education are received each year. Those questions and many others can be answered without violating the confidentiality owed to an employee or the children who are placed by Northampton County. But Brown and now Council prefer to circle the wagons than to provide answers for the public that just might make them more confident in CYF. This lack of transparency creates a culture that suits people like Sara Packer just fine.

By the by, The Express Times was missing in action as usual. That suits Northampton County government just fine,too. The less you know, the better.

Blogger's Note: You can see Durante's story on NBC10 here.

62 comments:

Anonymous said...

These guys are a bunch of losers. How the hell did Vaughn end up the chairman. The guy is incompetent. Also if McClure wins he has got to get rid of Franz. She was over her head the day she was hired and still is not right for the job.

Anonymous said...

Wow O'Hare you can be such a hypocrite. Why no comment on how Muller gave a brief statement and took no questions? Is it because he is one of your political loves and you hate Brown?

Read the MC story and Muller and Lehigh County are not exactly pouring out information. Why not try and be a little fair and balanced in your partisan reports.

Anonymous said...

It is Obama Toilet Paper Day. We get the White House back. No more fist bumps. FLUSH!!!!! Make America Great Again

Anonymous said...

This is exactly how administrators have acted when I have brought forth allegations of misconduct by Kevin Dolan, Pat Himmelwright, and Valerie Cammarene.
In the past when I told Ross Marcus that Mr. Dolan was approving sick time for an employee to first have lunch, then consume large amounts of wine with this employee, and then spend an afternoon together with this employee, Ross Marcus told me that I had no respect for Kevin.
Mr. Marcus not only covered up for Kevin, he also attempted to discipline me when I exposed that a child had been in a residential treatment facility for years, having never received one ounce of treatment for which he was placed there for.
When I brought forth concerns to Pat Himmelwright regarding children being left at risk, with safety concerns, and no documentation in the record, after cases were transferred to me from another supervisor and worker---Pat Himmelwright told me that "I had to mop it up."
These records came from the same supervisor who I told you previously said ,"LET'S PUT THEM IN FOSTER CARE IT WILL BE EASIER", rather than do the grunt work to preserve the family and keep kids with kin.

Some years ago a child died----This same supervisor and her workers record did not match--- they contradicted each other---in other words the supervisor had opposite documentation of what the worker had written in the record. Pat Himmelwright covered this up for this supervisor.
This supervisor is in another department and still dictates to Pat Himmelwright the course of CYF cases.
Northampton County has a drug court---some women with children are involved in drug court.
This supervisor has dictated to Pat Himmelwright that these drug court cases need to be automatically opened and receive monitoring by ongoing CYF services, which Pat has fully supported. The public should know that being involved in drug court should not dictate that you will harm your kids. To determine that your case needs to be opened simply because you are involved in drug court, is a clear violation of your rights.
A female employee told me Kevin Dolan had been hugging her everywhere he saw her, inclusive of grocery stores in the community. She told me , " I'm not a hugger." I took these concerns to Amy Trapp, human resource director.
She told me she would be conducting an investigation.
To date she has not contacted me, but she has no problem saying that I am a disgruntled employee.
She has that correct---I am disgruntled, as I want the children, families and staff to have better, much better! IT IS WHAT THEY DESERVE!!!
Mary Beth

Anonymous said...

http://projectcensored.org/

Anonymous said...

Turn your heads and bury in it in the sand. This is the culture of NC council. These jackasses don't even have the common sense or decency to call for a full blown investigation into the matter or CYF. If they don't want to do their job, quit! Don't waste anytime at election time telling us how good or fiscally responsible you are. Hopefully the electorate, who I don't have much confidence in, will smoke you out and fire you.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

has this been stated in any other threads: this monster managed to have children in her care and then work in a children and youth capacity with one person at the helm--John Stoffa, either in his capacity as Human Services Director (or shortly there after) or in his role as County Executive. How does that happen?

Anonymous said...

Bernie, why do you allow Mary Beth to continue to bitch about CYF management? They are unable to respond. They are defenseless targets of a disgruntled ex-employee. Enough is enough!

Anonymous said...


Amy Trapp
Pat, Kevin, Val,
As you know, I spoke to all of you about every issue exposed on this blog.
In the interest of self-protection, you ignored me.
Mary Beth

Anonymous said...

This was a tragedy and it was horrible what happened to the girl but frankly I am getting tired of this story. Last night was probably the first night in a week it wasn't the lead story on 69 news. Other murders in this area get a 30 second blurb one night and maybe a paragraph in the newspaper.

Anonymous said...

Kevin Dolan has stated in a past supervisor meeting that the John Brown administration is the worst he has ever seen.
Yet, this same administration gives the appearance of protecting Mr. Dolan.
Mary Beth

Bernie O'Hare said...

"Wow O'Hare you can be such a hypocrite. Why no comment on how Muller gave a brief statement and took no questions? Is it because he is one of your political loves and you hate Brown?"

Muller did precisely what he should do. He responded to reporters, answered precisely how many children had been placed in foster care with her and and that thy had been contacted. He responded to inquiries in a day. It took Brown a month. He then only responded bc he ha been publicly shamed by Lamont McClure. And he still won't answer some basic questions. he is the least transparent exec i've ever seen and has thrown CYF under the bus.

Bernie O'Hare said...

An anonymous personal attack aimed at a reader, posted at 8:25, has been deleted.

Bernie O'Hare said...

"Bernie, why do you allow Mary Beth to continue to bitch about CYF management? They are unable to respond. They are defenseless targets of a disgruntled ex-employee. Enough is enough!"

Excuse me, but Mary Beth is NOT making these attacks anonymously. She has signed her name and takes responsibility for her words. If she is lying, she can be sued. Frankly I am a little more concerned about a defenseless 15 year-old than I am about bruised egos at CYF. I have high regard for Kevin Dolan, but he should have been at Council yesterday, along with Allison Frantz. Seth Vaughn should have insisted that they both be there and say what the law allows them to say. He should have asked Kevin to respond to some of the accusations of favoritism in his office. And the complaints about Valerie's complete disrespect for families involved in dependency should be addressed. She should be point-blank asked whether she sang a disparaging song in front of a family in dependency court.

Anonymous said...

When I told Pat Himmelwright my concerns about the agency attorney, she told me, "don't throw our attorney under the bus."
Kevin Dolan was extremely resistive as well, and I have told him directly in person, and in writing, that he appears to have more interest in protecting the attorney, than he does in protecting children and families.
Mary Beth

Bernie O'Hare said...

"Northampton County has a drug court---some women with children are involved in drug court.
This supervisor has dictated to Pat Himmelwright that these drug court cases need to be automatically opened and receive monitoring by ongoing CYF services, which Pat has fully supported. The public should know that being involved in drug court should not dictate that you will harm your kids. To determine that your case needs to be opened simply because you are involved in drug court, is a clear violation of your rights."


I have no problem with opening a file on a parent who is addicted. I think that is a good thing and hardly a violation of privacy rights.

Anonymous said...

That is a good argument if we treated drug court involved cases and non-drug court involved cases that have major substance abuse issues the same.
It is a violation, and a very clear clear violation, if you are requiring a parent to be monitored by ongoing services simply because they are involved in drug court.
Voluntarily seeking services through CYF is different. I am speaking to compelling parents to have their case opened on that basis. There is no dependency law or juvenile act in place that dictates a person's involvement in drug court compels them to accept monitoring by CYF.
Mary Beth

Bernie O'Hare said...

"has this been stated in any other threads: this monster managed to have children in her care and then work in a children and youth capacity with one person at the helm--John Stoffa, either in his capacity as Human Services Director (or shortly there after) or in his role as County Executive. How does that happen? "

All the more reason for Brown to be transparent. Packer was fired by Stoffa before Brown assumed office. Brown is now actively trying to prevent the public from finding things out. He just cut off the Controller from access to finances.

Anonymous said...

In other words Bernie, there are many many parents with substance abuse issues, inclusive of having infants born positive and addicted to substances at birth, which have their cases closed during a 60 day comprehensive intake assessment.
This assessment is a risk/safety assessment addressing what the agency refers to as dependency issues.
At the end of this assessment, a risk rating is done on the family, determining whether you will be compelled to be monitored by CYF or your case is closed. If you are compelled, and you refuse, you will likely be taken to court.
The assessment is inclusive of urine screens as it pertains to substance abuse and child welfare.
The only real difference in these parents, is one has criminal charges, resulting in drug court, and the others don't.
Many variables comprise the comprehensive intake assessment.
Drug court involvement should not automatically compel parents to be monitored by government.
The child welfare laws dictate that you should be afforded a comprehensive risk and safety assessment.
Mary Beth

Anonymous said...

What bothers me the most is that one of our own is publically shaming the agency. While we are trying to tackle through media scolding CYF for something someone did that wasn’t even employed by us at the time, is only bringing more negative attention to CYF. You say you care about the workers and the work done at CYF, yet you continue to spew your hatred onto it, making it more difficult for caseworkers to work with families in the community. CYF is not responsible for what anyone chooses to do, especially once they leave the agency years later. And to publically shame individuals is also down-right unprofessional and low. You obviously are holding deep grudges and may want to seek therapy for that. Despite the feelings you have towards them, these people also have families and colleagues they work with day in and out. Let’s see your personnel file – I’m sure there is stuff you wouldn’t want others to see or know about.

Anonymous said...

I'm more than willing to have you, the media, or anyone else review my file.
I offered that a while ago on a previous post.
I have way more friends than enemies at the agency. I have the utmost respect for my former colleagues, and I have said without question, this agency is equipped with many many more good people than bad.
They are working very hard and I hold child welfare workers, especially front line caseworkers in the highest regard!

Anonymous said...

1243---also, if you are an employee, my wish is that if you experience something like a child being locked in a residential treatment facility for years without getting the treatment he went there for, that you stand up against that as well.
If you observe families being ridiculed, that you stand up to that as well.

I attempted throughout my employ to have civil discussions about being a better agency, about building bridges, about every issue on this blog. I was ignored on every level, in their interests of self protection.

Mary Beth

george schaller said...

Bernie,
Your 11:56 comment is dead on and also it would not be a violation of rights to pull random urine tests because there are children involved and there rights are more important than a incubators?
By the way were was the CPS worker that was managing the case were the distraght girl threw that innocent indigent child from the Hamilton street bridge into the Lehigh? There are just too many unanswered issues facing this bunch of deatheaterZ and of course the soul sale sectors operation epicentral!
REpublican redd
humanist by design

Anonymous said...

She may have been fired under Stoffa but she was promoted to head of Foster care under Stoffa and Marcus as well. Stoffa had issues as Human Services Director in Lehigh County. Marcus got an illegal thank you job from Stoffa pal Alan Jennings. Folks its all just insider politics. Yet we have a child's death.

Bernie O'Hare said...

You don't get it. I am interested in disclosure of all information that can be disclosed. It makes no difference to me whether it involves John Stoffa or Ross Marcus. All the more reason for Brown to be more open.

Anonymous said...

Local media outlets are reporting a "masked intruder" entered a Bethlehem Twp home while a woman was showering with a child in the home.

No nixel alert, mention on any township Facebook Page, police or administration? Is this the new government way, hide with no responses? Hope it goes away and gets replaced with some junk food news?

Bernie O'Hare said...

That was obviously no random act, and your comment here is OT.

Anonymous said...

Not off target, silence from local govt same as silence from Northampton Cty and both crime matters!

Bernie O'Hare said...

Ok. There has been a Nixel report.

Anonymous said...

1243---with regard to my personnel file, here is something that should be found there, illustrating clearly that the county has a firm handle on issues.
When we first moved to the new human service building, a microwave was placed on every floor but the CYF floor.
Myself and some co-workers moved a brand new microwave to the CYF floor.
We were summoned one at a time to Allison Frantz. During my summons, she repeatedly told me ,"you are better than this, you are better than this." In sharing my summons with the other individuals who engaged in such a heinous act, I discovered their meeting with Allison to be the same.
She heavily scorns that microwave being on the CYF floor.
Mary Beth

Anonymous said...

The qualifications for a County Caseworker can be easily extracted from the PA Civil Service web site. The continued training requirements were spelled out. Be more vigilant in recognizing the hijacking of legitimate concerns, which is where you are right now. You insist on knowing the administrators for many years and use that as your standard to reconcile the rest of it. That's fair, but it does no good for the people who are trying to work under those conditions. The qualifications for County Caseworker exceed what most other civil servants local, county, or state, require. If you are in a position to advocate, then do so. If you are in a position to correct something that is wrong, then do so, but don't allow this to get carried away. This isn't the place to conduct that sort of business.

Anonymous said...

wow. Now we have to hear about the CYF microwaves. I can't wait to hear what's next. Bernie can you ask your friend to stay on topic.

Anonymous said...

Sorry for the off-topic comment Bernie, but is there any chance the "Opinions Online" forum can return? I miss it, even though some people abused it or some weeks there wasn't much in the way of comments received. Even if we could submit comments on topics to you and you pick only one comment per week we could all discuss plus you weigh in with your thoughts, it would keep things interesting.

Bernie O'Hare said...

I am trying to get something going.

Anonymous said...

Microwave stories boring to some, but let me assure you this story is meaningful to the staff at the agency.
Can someone in authority help the CYF folks get a microwave on their floor please? 2 would be awesome!
It's not asking much considering they risk their lives often to help others.
County Council members, the folks at CYF deserve a microwave , and the staff that tried to help should not have been demeaned by administration for plugging in a microwave.
Mary Beth

Anonymous said...

There are 6 available in the public cafeteria. One flight of steps up or for those who are unable to do stairs there is an elevator. They are available to all staff in the building.....free of charge. I'm sure CYF would rather have administration focus on more important things than a microwave.

Anonymous said...

Why can't they have a microwave on their floor? Seems petty. What's the big deal?

Bernie O'Hare said...

Let's drop this. It is completely off topic.

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

I have deleted your insistence on discussing microwaves after I told you it is off topic. You do no trun this blog, Mary Beth, I do. I have zero tolerance when people can't follow my rules. If you wish to start a blog of your own, be my guest. But you will not take over this one, and any complaints about this decision will also be deleted. Those are my rules.

Anonymous said...

Completely understood Bernie,
I did not see your post before I made that last comment.
Mary Beth

Bernie O'Hare said...

Ok.

Anonymous said...

Based on the Comments of "Mary Beth", this is starting to sound like a classic "whistleblower" case if has not already done so. However, "Mary Beth", in her detailed releases of information, also opens herself up to a potential libel/slander/defamation lawsuit(s) by those she accuses. None the less if her claims are "possibly" true, the whole CYF division is in need of a serious THIRD party investigation as well as a State investigation so that change can be made to correct the course and ethos of the Department. If her claims are "not" true, then I am sure the County and those individuals she calls out can then take her to task.

Anonymous said...

The topic of your blog is referencing the silence of Government in midst of this horrific crime.
I have demonstrated their silence to other things as well.
If those in power cannot be held accountable, then it follows to be a hypocrisy to hold any one else accountable.
I have told them it starts at the top and they know that.
They retaliated,and being unresponsive especially when families have been ridiculed is inexcusable to me.
Mary Beth

Anonymous said...

How did they retaliate? You had a long, successful career. You were promoted to a supervisor position and were personally recruited from EI. It sounds like they treated you quite well. You aren't whistle blowing, you're feeling grief from Sara Packer's actions and going through the anger stage of bereavement.

Anonymous said...

I am not suggesting/asking anyone to hate Pat, Kevin or Val.
They are not evil, they don't deserve hate.
But ignorance to accountability, especially in such a sensitive department, is unacceptable.
Mary Beth

Anonymous said...

If any of these people or county come after Ms. J, then people will come out of the shadows at the appropriate time to confirm her accounts. She has not gone off course ion her assessments of the CYF leadership. To much playing around and ass covering.

If McClure wins he must get a new HS Director with knowledge and investigate how things are done. Even if he gets push back form the courts.

Anonymous said...

I appreciate your support 231!
Thank you very very much!!
Mary Beth

george schaller said...

Bernie,
I redd someonelse commented here about your oppinions, please please!!! This shitstew about subterainian pedophiles in official seats of power by appointments is commonplace with in the nue nue nue REnue the triboro cesspool shakespgerian style to the dark ages?
Just think of it, ACTing under cover under colour of law on a child's behalf to do things to said child that even third world nations would find REpulsive?

REpublican redd
humanist by design

Anonymous said...

I believe the retaliation occurred in part when Mary Beth was not allowed to transfer out of a job she no longer wanted. They did that to my friend, too.

Anonymous said...

It's well known that Lehigh County is far superior to Northampton County. We need our own Trump who can lead us in making Northampton County great again.

Deanna Durante said...

Hello, I want to make clear I have posed a number of questions to Lehigh County... Did they go and check on the children as part of the criminal case? Did they remove the kids from the house? Did they leave them with Sara and why?

it is not true that Muller responded in one day - he has NEVER responded to me despite calls, emails and coming in person (and being kicked out by an armed deputy.)

a statement was sent by his office - one that says very little and doesn't address the other children placed by private agencies the county contracts with. BTW the two kids they do mention- they did not know about - those kids were found BY POLICE and they TOLD Lehigh about those children.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Deanna,I stamd corrected. I assumed that Muller spoke to you after your visit to their CYF. Keep up the great work.

Pappadakkis said...

UNITY-PAC's resurgence should serve as an appropriate counterweight to the blog bile that abounds here and on the dailies.

Anonymous said...

Deanna, you should realize something as you refer to this blog. Mr. O'Hare protects his mancrushes and Muller is a mancrush. So you will only get "alternative facts" about him on this blog.

Deanna Durante said...

Not only did Lehigh county ignore me. they threw me out of the building
a public building... http://www.nbcphiladelphia.com/news/local/Grace-Packer-Murder-Investigation-Continues_Philadelphia-411009095.html

you can see it above...

Bernie O'Hare said...

Thanks, Deanna, I really admire your work in this matter.

Anonymous said...

After reading all these comments, I can only ask: Where is Ron Angle when we need him?

Anonymous said...

"Where is Ron Angle when we need him?"

Hopefully no where near any government. One Trump at a time is enough.

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

I am not going to force one of my readers to answer a question posed anonymously. It is enough that I get them. If you can't have the basic respect to ID yourself when speaking to a third party here, you deserve no answer.