Former Fayette County, Pennsylvania judge, Dwight K. Shaner, 71, entered a guilty plea to the misdemeanor charge of hindering apprehension that stemmed from an allegation that he "fixed" a DUI case for the nephew of a former assistant district attorney.
It was alleged that Shaner improperly dismissed the DUI case of 31-year-old Robert L. Rudnik, who is the nephew of Judge Linda Cordaro. Cordaro, at the time, was the former assistant district attorney.
On the morning of the preliminary hearing, Cordaro recused herself from prosecuting the case. The grand jury said that Shaner should have also recused himself due to his "longstanding relationship" with Cordaro. Shaner, however, proceeded with the hearing.
The case was dismissed when the officer who filed the charges could not produce any witnesses at the hearing, even though witnesses are not typically required at preliminary hearings, and a continuance was not granted to allow the trooper to produce the witnesses.
"[The trooper] testified…Shaner told him, ‘Hey, trooper, I hope you understand. I’m catching some heat from Linda (Cordaro) because that is her nephew,’" the grand jury said in its report.
Prosecutors agreed to drop obstruction and perjury charges in exchange for Shaner’s guilty plea on the charge of hindering apprehension. Convictions of either obstruction or perjury would have jeopardized Shaner’s pension under the state’s Public Employee Pension Forfeiture Act.
Shaner’s attorney, George H. Matangos, told the judge that this incident was “out of the ordinary, not a pattern of behavior.”
Shaner was sentenced to 18 months of probation and ordered to complete 150 hours of community service.
Prosecutors refiled DUI charges against Rudnik, who eventually pleaded guilty in February of 2014.
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