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AG’s office investigates Halcovage

Employees of the State Attorney General’s Office were in Schuylkill County earlier this week regarding the investigation of county Commissioner George Halcovage Jr.

Schuylkill County Sheriff Joseph Groody said on Tuesday two AG’s office employees were at the courthouse Monday.

Groody said he met with a man, whom he declined to name, while the other person remained in a vehicle.

They spoke about the investigation of Halcovage’s alleged harassment of female county employees, and Groody provided him video of Halcovage going up the hill near the public parking lot from the bottom lot.

“I took him out and showed him the area in question,” Groody said of the hill.

On Tuesday night, the press office for the attorney general confirmed the investigation.

“Our office did have an agent there to collect potential evidence. We are taking the investigation seriously, and while it is still pending, we cannot release any additional details,” the press office said in an email.

Schuylkill County District Attorney Michael O’Pake turned over the investigation in July to the AG’s office because of a conflict of interest as a county employee.

The office will determine if Halcovage should face criminal charges for his alleged harassment of female county employees. The county solicitor’s office and the human resource office investigated and determined that Halcovage violated three county policies, sexual harassment, conduct and discipline and physical and verbal abuse.

The investigation determined that if Halcovage was an employee he would be suspended and recommended he be terminated.

Groody said the 11:43 a.m. July 16 footage shows Halcovage. First Assistant Solicitor Glenn Roth confirmed previously the Sheriff’s Office has the video of Halcovage.

“He is on the video climbing up that mountain. It’s clearly him,” Groody said previously.

He said the video depicts Halcovage “down low on the mountain.” He said another employee sees him and asks George how he is doing.

Groody said two of Halcovage’s “alleged victims” were sitting in a vehicle not far from the top of the hill.

The Sheriff’s Office was notified of the incident after the commissioners office received a complaint.

Chief Deputy Brian Tobin said Halcovage is seen on the video going to the west or left after reaching the top, which is away from the security entrance before proceeding to it.

County Administrator Gary Bender, as well as Commissioner Gary Hess said they viewed the video but didn’t say what was on it.

Commissioner Barron “Boots” Hetherington said previously he had not seen the video. He spoke to Halcovage about what the video shows.

He said Halcovage told him he needed to get into the courthouse and no one from the Sheriff’s Office came to get him. Hetherington said Halcovage must notify deputies upon his arrival.

Hetherington said George didn’t want to be late for whatever he allegedly climbed the hill for.

Halcovage has declined to comment on the hill incident. He has denied the allegations against him.

Lawyer responds

Gerard Geiger, who is representing Halcovage in his role as county commissioner against the claims he is facing about alleged harassment of county employees, did not say what the video shows.

“With all due respect, I fail to see the relevance in the path Commissioner Halcovage took to get into the courthouse from his car or why this is newsworthy. Mr. Halcovage has been denied his normal access to the courthouse, near his car. This is based on unsubstantiated accusations, with no right of rebuttal. Then when he tries to get into his office from another entrance, he is accused of stalking.

“We have no intention of continuing to respond to every trivial claim. Mr. Halcovage’s accusers love getting press time, but we have no intention of continuing this dialogue in the media. It is a disservice not just to Commissioner Halcovage but to the entire legal process,” Geiger said in an email.

Right-To-Know request

The county denied the Right-To-Know request filed by the newspaper seeking the footage.

In its denial, the county cited the security video as being exempt from the RTK law because “a record, the disclosure of which creates a reasonable likelihood of endangering the safety or the physical security of a building, public utility, resource, Infrastructure, facility or information storage system.”

Roth said Tuesday there have been charges filed with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission regarding the accusations against Halcovage. He declined further comment.