Judicial Conduct Board seeks refusal to dismiss case against District Judge Mark Wilson

June 10, 2017
Mark Wilson

The state Judicial Conduct Board wants a court to deny a Washington County district judge’s appeal to have charges of violating the rules that govern his court and the state Constitution dismissed in a case involving his sending the Monongahela mayor to jail.

The board Friday asked the state’s Court of Judicial Discipline to deny District Judge Mark Wilson’s request for his case to be dismissed under a number of arguments, court records show.

The board filed the charges March 30, stemming from Wilson remanding Mayor Bob Kepics to Washington County jail in December 2012 on a criminal charge of theft. The board said Kepics’ bond was set at $5,000 for failure to pay a personal loan in a private criminal complaint that was eventually withdrawn by Washington County District Attorney Gene Vittone. The board also found a pattern of Wilson setting high bonds for petty crimes.

In his response to the charges, Wilson petitioned the court to be admitted into the state’s judicial diversion program, which would involve his receiving mentoring and counseling, as he has no prior record of being disciplined, court records show.

“The complaint does not contain allegations of criminal charges, corruption or other conduct where the presumptive sanction is suspension or removal,” Wilson’s attorney, Christopher D. Carusone, stated in the pretrial motion filed April 28.

Carusone, of Harrisburg, also asked the court to schedule a hearing into whether or not Wilson should be admitted to the diversion program.

The board did not oppose Wilson being admitted to the program if the court concludes that one is available. It also asked the court to schedule a pretrial conference to determine the availability of a judicial diversion program for Wilson.

Carusone also asked the court to dismiss the charges, in part, based on the fact that Kepics’ case was expunged.

“It is difficult to comprehend how Judge Wilson can be expected to defend himself … when all records of those official actions have been destroyed,” a portion of his motion states.

However, the board argued that documents relating to the criminal process against Kepics do exist, including the criminal complaint and his booking sheet, the record indicates.

The board also argued that the judicial misconduct charges against Wilson should not have been a surprise to him after the mayor’s federal lawsuit against him was dismissed “under the theory of absolute immunity,” the court record shows.

In dismissing the federal case, U.S. District Judge Mark Hornak said the events involving Kepics happened, that they were “completely reprehensible, it is not something any judge of any level of any judiciary, state, federal, local should ever do,” the board noted in the record.

The board also claimed Wilson did not suffer prejudice from the filing of the charges in his re-election campaign this year. It argued Friday that Wilson won both the Democratic and Republic nominations for the office in May, leaving him unopposed in the November election.

Carusone said it was important to note that the board did not oppose his request to have Wilson entered into a judicial diversionary program. He declined further comment.

Scott Beveridge is a North Charleroi native who has lived most of his life in nearby Rostraver Township. He is a general assignments reporter focusing on investigative journalism and writing stories about the mid-Mon Valley. He has a bachelor's degree from Indiana University of Pennsylvania and a master's from Duquesne University. Scott spent three weeks in Vietnam in 2004 as a foreign correspondent under an International Center for Journalists fellowship.

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