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Thursday, April 17, 2008

Scarnati Endorses Walker--Felony Charges Filed

Thursday, Apr. 17, 2008

Stalking, burglary charges

filed against

Congressional candidate

CLEARFIELD — Fifth Congressional District front-runner Derek Walker was charged Thursday with two felonies and four misdemeanors in connection with an incident last August at his former girl friend’s house in Clearfield.

Walker said this morning before the charges were filed that Clearfield County District Attorney William Shaw Jr. had been pressured to file the charges less than a week before the primary election by Walker’s chief rival for the Republcan nomination, State College businessman Matt Shaner.

Asked why the charges against Walker were filed today, Shaw said: “We finished our investigation yesterday — we got the last two statements yesterday.”

The criminal complaint, filed in District Judge Richard Ireland’s Clearfield office, charges Walker with burglary and criminal trespass, both felonies, and the misdemeanors criminal attempt, invasion of privacy, disorderly conduct and stalking.

The complaint, filed by Clearfield police Chief Jeffrey Rhone and signed by Shaw, accuses Walker of using his cell phone to videotape a former girlfriend in an intimate moment with another man on Aug. 25, 2007. The complaint also alleges that he had contact with her on two other occasions, despite being told by a police officer on Aug. 25 that he should avoid further contact and that charges were pending.

The charges came just as state Sen. Joe Scarnati of Brockway, Jefferson County, Senate president pro tempore and the state’s most powerful legislator, endorsed Walker.

Walker said his campaign has traced anonymous letters sent to media outlets about the incident to the Shaner campaign. He also said he has not been contacted by police or questioned about the incident in the past "250 days."

A Shaner aide reportedly said Shaner did not initiate the letters or the police investigation.

Walker will be notified of the charges by summons. An arraignment date had not been set as of 1 p.m.

Walker is among 12 candidates -- nine Republicans and three Democrats -- competing for the wide-open 5th Congressional District seat. U.S. Rep. John Peterson, R-Pleasantville, is retiring.

The district covers Centre and 16 other counties in Pennsylvania.

Walker and Shaner have both spent in excess of $350,000 of their own money on their campaigns, requiring their opponents to be notificed under terms of the Federal Elections Commission's Millionaire’s Amendment, enacted in 2004.

The other 10 candidates have not triggered the self-financing clause.

For full details, see tomorrow's Centre Daily Times.

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