Attorney Lynn G. Bressi, 64, Pottsville, who entered a plea of nolle contendre (no defense) to several criminal charges, was sentenced Wednesday in the Schuylkill County Court.
On charges of theft by deception and tampering with a public record, she was placed on probation for six months and pay a fine of $1,000 each. On two charges of tampering with public records and criminal solicitation and one count of intimidating a witness, she was given concurrent sentences.
The total sentence was 12 months on probation, fined $2,000, make restitution of $5,200 to Schuylkill County, and perform 100 hours of community service.
Bressie was sentenced by Senior Judge Jerome P. Cheslock, of Monroe County, because all six county judges recused themselves from the case. Prosecution against Bressi was also handled by the State Attorney General's Office since the county district attorney office also excluded itself from the case.
Cheslock noted as he prepared to sentence Bressi that she had no prior criminal record, and he had reviewed the sentence memorandum prepared by her attorney, Joshua D. Lock, of Harrisburg, who included 41 letters from friends, acquaintances and residents living in her community as character witnesses to show she had an upstanding character and was involved in many charitable programs and was very active in community affairs but added that this was a clear violation of public trust.
After imposing the sentence, Cheslock said the only reason he was placing her on probation was so that the county probation department could monitor the 100 hours of community service he imposed and to make sure the fines and restitution is paid.
The state attorney general's office told the court because taxpayers money was taken that there should be some confinement time imposed and also claimed the restitution should be $6,550.
The charges arose while Bressi was employed by the county court to serve as a master to conduct custody conferences of cases sent to her from the Domestic Relations Department.
President Judge William E. Baldwin, who had hired Bressi, was told about out of the ordinary billing submitted by Bressi in certain cases. The Pottsville Police Department was called in to investigate. Captain Richard F. Wojciechowsky filed the charges accusing Bressi of making false billings and claiming she had received $6,000 not entitled.
Usually the case then goes before the county district attorney who at that time was James P. Goodman, who now is a county judge. Goodman reclused himself from the prosecution because Bressi's husband, Attorney Charles Bressi, had served as an assistant district attorney for Goodman but was no longer on the staff as he took a position as law clerk for Associate Judge John P. Domalakes.
Goodman called in the state attorney general's office to handle the prosecution based on evidence gathered by the Pottsville police.
The current district attorney, Karen Noon Byrne, continued to recluse her department.