Solicitor: Investigation targets Cambria County sheriff's office

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Jun. 11—EBENSBURG — The Cambria County Sheriff's Office is the target of a state investigation, county Solicitor William G. Barbin told those attending a county commissioners' meeting Thursday.

"There clearly are investigations going on into the sheriff's office," Barbin said. "They have the right to keep their investigations confidential."

Barbin was responding to a volley of questions and accusations lobbed by John DeBartola, of Johnstown, during the public comment period of Thursday's meeting in a Duman Lake County Park pavilion.

DeBartola, a Republican candidate for mayor of Johnstown, cited time sheets he obtained from the sheriff's office and Stonycreek Township Police Department. Although DeBartola admitted he is not familiar with the investigative process, he said the time sheets appear to show sheriff's deputy Tom Owens was getting paid as a Stonycreek officer while also on the clock for the county.

"It looks like there's corruption," DeBartola said, asking if the commissioners were investigating.

It's not the commissioners' role, Barbin said.

"We are are not an investigative agency," Barbin said. "We have referred the matter to the state organizations. They are making decisions. We will always comply with the people who have the authority to do that."

Acting Sheriff Don Robertson said the investigation is news to him.

"I am not aware of anything like that occurring," Robertson said when reached by phone at his office on Thursday. "That would be nice to know. The commissioners' office has not told me anything. I am simply just doing my job as sheriff."

Robertson and Owens both said the "double-dipping" allegation is not true.

"I am here to cooperate with whatever they want and whatever they need," Robertson said.

Robertson said Stonycreek officers sign off when they are relieved by another officer at each shift change. Deputies must register on the time sheet in the courthouse.

Specifically on the accusation of double-dipping, Owens said, "That's not true. John DeBartola is a liar."

Both Owens and Robertson are candidates for sheriff in the November election. Robertson was unopposed on the Republican ballot in the May 18 primary election. Owens defeated Adams Township police Chief Kirk Moss on the Democratic side.

Last week, Barbin confirmed that state police investigators served a search warrant on the county election office seeking nominating petitions for a candidate in the May primary. He did not say it was a candidate for sheriff.

"It's not necessarily targeted toward the candidate," Barbin said on June 3. "I can't speak for the state police, but they had reason to ask for nominating petitions. Not ask, demand."