Leschinskie, attorney ask court to reconsider sentence

Jan. 24—SUNBURY — A former Shamokin city councilman and his defense attorney intend to convince a Northumberland County senior judge to reconsider his sentencing.

During a hearing on Tuesday in front of Senior Judge Harrold Woelfel Jr., Conflicts Counsel Michael O'Donnell argued that his client Joseph Leschinskie Jr., 38, of Shamokin, was never served an order denying a post-sentence motion fighting a sentence of six to 23 months in jail. Woelfel granted a continuance for O'Donnell after the judge requested testimony and O'Donnell asked for more time to gather witnesses.

"In the meantime, it (the case) is in the appellant courts," said Woelfel. "It's a waste of everybody's time and efforts."

Leschinskie was sentenced by Woelfel in July to six months to 23 months in jail on a misdemeanor count of terroristic threats. Leschinskie was found guilty of one misdemeanor count of terroristic threats after county Detective Degg Stark said Leschinskie threatened former Councilwoman Jennifer Seidel's husband, Erik Seidel, following a city council meeting on Sept. 14, 2020. The misdemeanor count carried a maximum penalty of up to five years in jail and a $10,000 fine.

Leschinskie's post-sentence motion challenging the case was also denied in December due to the operation of law. Since Woelfel did not explicitly rule on the motion within 120 days, it was automatically denied, the judge said.

O'Donnell, who was appointed as Leschinskie's attorney in October, filed an amended post-sentence motion at the 121-day mark. He argued that Leschinskie was not served an order by the clerk of courts indicating the post-sentence motion was denied, nor was any such order placed in the docket.

O'Donnell said the law states an order must be served if the case is denied by operation of law. This constitutes a breakdown of the court, which in turn allows the court to reconsider the sentence, O'Donnell said.

Multiple witnesses during Leschinskie's trial mentioned Leschinskie's status as a felon despite orders from the judge that the information was not supposed to be conveyed to the jury. O'Donnell said this is the second incident of a breakdown of the court.

O'Donnell said he intends not only to challenge the sentencing order but also examine the trial and evidence.

Assistant District Attorney Robyn Zenzinger said she was awaiting further guidance from the court on how to proceed with the case.

Meanwhile, the defense also has a pending appeal to the Superior Court.

A new hearing date has not yet been scheduled.