Civil case dropped against Cambria County candidate for sheriff, Stonycreek Township, board of elections

Shawn Curtis, The Tribune-Democrat, Johnstown, Pa.
·2 min read

Apr. 27—EBENSBURG — Counsel representing John DeBartola in his lawsuit against Tom Owens, Stonycreek Township and the Cambria County Board of Elections announced that the case has been dropped.

Attorney Jesse D. Daniel of Indiana said he had filed the documents necessary to bring an end to the lawsuit, which was scheduled for a hearing Thursday in front of Cambria County Judge David J. Tulowitzki.

Owens is currently a police officer on the Stonycreek Township police department and also a part-time Cambria County sheriff's deputy.

He is running against Adams Township police Chief Kirk A. Moss in the May 18 Democratic primary. Acting Sheriff Don Robertson is also running for the position in this year's race as a Republican.

The discontinuation of the case was verified through the Prothonotary's Office at Cambria County Courthouse.

Daniel said in the release — received from The Daniel Law Group — that he took the action to drop the case because the lawsuit had accomplished one of its goals: to force Stonycreek Township to pay attention to, and recognize its role in, preserving good government and community safety by enforcing its own civil service laws to prevent the toxic mix of policing and politics.

The complaint, filed on March 29, alleged that Owens "engaged in improper conduct in violation of applicable law by being a candidate for election to the position of Cambria County Sheriff while simultaneously being employed by Stonycreek Township as a police officer."

Stonycreek Township's status as a first-class township means that its police force is subject to the protections and proscriptions of the Civil Service Act, the suit said.

DeBartola alleged it was improper for Owens to be a candidate while also being an active-duty police officer capable of arresting and charging individuals with criminal prosecution.

"Yet each time the township ignored John's concerns or otherwise dismissed him without providing any statement as to what role it admitted it had in this situation. John was then left with no choice but to commence the lawsuit," the law firm's release said.