- Associated Press - Friday, February 7, 2014

BUTLER, Pa. (AP) - A former Butler County jury commissioner in western Pennsylvania has been accused of targeting opponents in the jury selection process, including two officials who voted to eliminate his job.

Jon Galante, 28, was charged with four counts of interfering with the selection of jurors. He allegedly sent jury questionnaires illegally to two county commissioners and two other people who supported the county commission’s 2-1 vote last spring to eliminate Galante’s position, as well as the other jury commissioner’s.

Potential jurors are supposed to be randomly selected, and jury commissioners are responsible for maintaining the jury list. The questionnaires are sent; recipients return them; and some or all of the respondents are subsequently summoned for jury duty.

A complaint was filed Thursday, alleging Galante was angry his job was being cut and was “trying to show them anybody could screw with the system.” The complaint said Clinton Bonetti, the other jury commissioner who lost his job, told investigators he was present when Galante manually accessed the computer to send out the questionnaires.

Galante has a pretrial hearing March 3. Online court records didn’t list an attorney for him, and The Associated Press could not locate a home telephone number for him.

Court records say Galante confessed to investigators that he manually entered the system to ensure jury duty questionnaires were sent in October to county Commissioners A. Dale Pinkerton and Bill McCarrier; county solicitor Mike English, who advised the cuts would be legal and court administrators could assume the duties; and Mark Krenitsky, a resident who spoke at public meetings in favor of cutting the jobs.

County Commissioner Jim Eckstein, who voted against the cuts, didn’t get a jury questionnaire.

McCarrier and Krenitsky were summoned for jury duty, but eventually excused. Pinkerton and English were not summoned.

Still, McCarrier called Galante “a fine young man” and said a conviction would put a “black mark” on him that could follow him for the rest of his life.

Galante was the Republican jury commissioner; Bonetti was his Democratic counterpart. The county commission voted to eliminate their jobs at the end of 2013 to save money.

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