Updated, 4:20 p.m.
Bruce Castor, formerly the acting Attorney General of Pennsylvania and the Montgomery County District Attorney best known for declining to charge Bill Cosby, has filed court papers signaling his firm’s intent to sue Centre County over a six-figure legal bill.
The writ of summons, a preliminary document outlining intent to sue, involves work he did representing Centre County District Attorney Stacy Parks Miller in a 2015 case investigated by the office of former state Attorney General Kathleen Kane. No charges were found against Parks Miller, who had been accused of forging a judge’s signature on a court order but was not indicted. The Legal Intelligencer reported Kane gave a directive not to charge Parks Miller because of their friendship.
(So yes, this suit is from a former AG about a soon-to-be former DA investigated by another former AG. Pennsylvania!)
By the time the Grand Jury report had been released, Parks Miller had incurred $126,000 in legal fees (Castor’s rate is about $650 an hour). Castor demanded Centre County make the payment. Centre County officials have essentially told Castor they owe him nothing because Parks Miller, who’s also been accused of catfishing defendants, needed to have her choice of legal representation approved by the County and to take up his claim with the DA office’s insurer. They claim she didn’t do that.
The investigation into Parks Miller included actions by the Centre County Board of Commissioners to hire a special prosecutor and a search of her office by area police.
“This foolishness that the commissioners have to sign off on a contract to hire the DA’s counsel when they are the ones trying to have her arrested is ridiculous,” Castor said in an email to Billy Penn explaining his intent to sue. “The incentive for the commissioners to hire someone who knows what they are doing is nil.”
He said the County’s view is “a stupid position a court will laugh at” and “it is the county’s responsibility to pay legal expenses incurred by county employees in the course of their duties. If the county thinks it should be indemnified by an insurance company, it is up to it to pursue.”
Michael Pipe, a Centre County commissioner, said the County has no plans to pay for the fees and never approved, nor seen a contract from Castor.
“We’re at a loss for why he feels we owe him anything,” Pipe said. “During Mr. Castor’s tenure as a Montgomery County Commissioner, I hope he never authorized the expending of funds without a contract.”
Castor, who is a partner in the law firm Rogers & Associates, started working for Kane in the Attorney General’s office a few months after the Grand Jury announced it wouldn’t recommend charges against Parks Miller. When Kane was found guilty of perjury and other charges, Castor became Acting Attorney General. The promotion didn’t last long, as Governor Tom Wolf appointed Bruce Beemer to finish out Kane’s term, and Castor was removed from the position after about two weeks.
While working in the AG’s office last summer, his firm notified Centre County of the $126,000 in legal fees. He told Billy Penn back then he hoped he wouldn’t have to sue.
But the situation has apparently gotten to that point. And Castor insists Centre County has put itself in the position of forcing Pennsylvania taxpayers to pay his legal fees. Not him.
“The prior Commissioners have stuck the county with a big bill in their eagerness to lash out at the DA,” Castor said in an email about his firm’s intent to sue. “I hope the taxpayers decide it was all worth it, but I doubt they will. The Commissioners were playing with other people’s money. Now the bill has come due.”