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Judge dismisses 305 criminal charges against former Harrisburg mayor

Former Harrisburg Mayor Stephen Reed was charged last year by the Office of Attorney General with multiple counts of theft, bribery and running a corrupt organization. - (Photo / File)

A judge today dismissed more than 300 criminal charges against former Harrisburg Mayor Stephen Reed, saying the charges — filed in a corruption case involving alleged misuse of city funds during Reed’s tenure — were too old to prosecute.

Reed, who was mayor from 1981 to 2010, was charged last year by the Office of Attorney General with multiple counts of theft, bribery and running a corrupt organization. The 449 charges stemmed from grand jury findings related to Reed’s alleged misuse of city finances.

Senior Judge Kevin Hess dismissed 305 charges in response to a pre-trial motion filed by the defense.

“We believe they are clearly barred by the statute of limitations,” the order reads, arguing they should have been filed no later than Jan. 4, 2015, which was five years after Reed left elected office.

That leaves 144 counts tied to alleged theft of historic artifacts purchased by the city.

“Whether the evidence as ultimately presented will support convictions for theft by receiving stolen property is for a jury to determine,” Hess wrote.

Defense attorney Henry Hockeimer Jr. of Ballard Spahr said he was pleased with the judge’s decision as the team prepares to fight the other charges.

A date for a jury trial has not yet been set.

Jeffrey Johnson, a spokesman for the Office of Attorney General, said the prosecution was disappointed by the ruling, but added the case is “far from dead.”

“At this point, we have not yet had the opportunity to thoroughly review the judge’s decision,” he said. “We will decide upon the appropriate course of action after that review is complete.”

That could include an appeal to state Superior Court. 

“This is an example of a situation where each side interpreted a statute differently,” Johnson said. “It’s something that happens every day in the legal system.”

The counts carry a maximum penalty of 886 years in prison, Johnson said.

To read the judge’s decision, click here:

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