Coaldale Borough Councilman David J. Yelito, who heads the town's Police Committee, was revealed at a public meeting Tuesday to have sold methamphetamine to an undercover state trooper a felony offense in the 1980s.
"That was almost 30 years ago," Yelito said amid calls for his resignation. "Everybody in Coaldale knew about it."
Later, Yelito said, "I made a mistake. I made a big mistake."
Evidently, council members Joseph Hnat, Mike Doerr and President Susan Solt did not know. All three were visibly shaken by the revelation, made by resident Linda Miller. Miller read aloud from court documents outlining Yelito's plea bargain in the matter.
Hnat asked for copies of the documents to give to solicitor Michael Greek, who was on vacation and so did not attend the meeting.
"We will act on it. I guarantee we will," he said.
At a previous meeting Miller had asked council to look into whether a "felon" could serve on council. Councilman Thomas Keerans said that council had asked Greek about it, and was "told not to do anything with it."
She then proceeded to read aloud from a section of the Pennsylvania Constitution addressing "infamous crimes," and barring perpetrators from holding public office. The section states that "No person hereafter convicted of embezzlement of public moneys, bribery, perjury or other infamous crime, shall be eligible to the General Assembly, or capable of holding any office of trust or profit in this Commonwealth."
Miller then read a list of states, including Pennsylvania, that bar felons from holding public office. Resident Debra Danchak read a newspaper story about a Delaware man, Gary Mitchell, whose election to New Castle city council was nullified because of his two drug-related felonies.
Miller then read from Yelito's plea deal.
"Now you know the facts," she told council. "You know that it is illegal for him to hold office. Yet you sit here and you did nothing about it."
Miller called for Yelito's resignation, as did others, including Jeanine Snyder, who had brought her elementary school-age daughter to "learn about civic duty" first-hand. Snyder said she regretted that the child had attended that particular meeting.
"Do the right thing and resign," she told Yelito.
According to a Carbon County Court document, the arresting agency in Yelito's case was Dauphin County Sheriff, and the arresting officer as a Stephen Wevodau. The document was filed on Jan. 1, 1983. According to the document, Yelito was charged with a felony charge of possession with intent to deliver a controlled substance, to which he pleaded guilty.
A news article about Yelito's sentence appeared May 23, 1984, edition of The Morning Call. The article stated that Yelito, then of East Penn Township, was sentenced by Judge John P. Lavelle to 4-8 months in prison for selling methamphetamine to an undercover state narcotics agent.
Yelito, 29 at the time, was charged with selling "speed" in his home for $775 to the agent on Aug. 19, 1983, according to court documents obtained through the Pennsylvania Unified Judicial System.
The Constitution says that anyone convicted of an "infamous crime" cannot hold elected office. The state Supreme Court in 2000 ruled that all felonies are infamous crimes under Article II, Section 7 of the Pennsylvania Constitution.
In that case, Bolus v. Fisher, the panel of Supreme Court judges ruled that all felonies are "infamous crimes."