It seems nobody connected to the Wall drama in Shohola is happy.
Nelia Wall, former township secretary and supervisor, and her husband Donald Wall, former township zoning officer, were subjects of a Pike County grand jury investigation started in 2009.
Based on that investigation, the couple faced a variety of corruption charges in January, accusing them of using their positions in the township to drum up work for the family excavating business, TLC Landscaping. They were also accused of arranging an unauthorized raise for Don Wall, and
fudging time cards.
This month, the Walls accepted a pretrial agreement with Pike County District Attorney Ray Tonkin. It required the Walls to pay Shohola Township $7,500 in restitution, and for Nelia Wall to resign as elected supervisor. In exchange, Tonkin dropped all charges.
The topic of the sealed grand jury investigation had leaked like a soaked diaper long before charges were brought. Tongues were wagging all over the township and some were giddy at the thought of the Walls facing court.
On the advice of their attorneys, the Walls did not comment on the charges while the court case was pending. That is
pretty standard legal advice.
But after the agreement was finalized, the Walls released a rambling 2,372-word statement. In it, they point fingers at accusers and proclaim their innocence.
“We committed no wrongdoing. We believe that a significant amount of simple, but key, information was withheld from the grand jury and the D.A. by current public officials in Shohola Township,” the statement said.
The statement complains that forcing Nelia Wall to resign as elected supervisor disenfranchised voters who put her in office.
“In Pennsylvania, the only way a public official may be removed from office is through the ballot box or by impeachment by the State House. Yet, this non-negotiable agreement provided a third method to remove someone from office: force a resignation under unstated threat of further litigation,” the statement said.
Equally bitter, is a statement released this week by Township Supervisor George Fluhr Jr.
“With the mountains of evidence against the Walls, what justifies this lenient of an agreement?” Fluhr asks in his statement. He wanted to see the case go to trial.
“Like many people in Shohola, I am saddened to hear people saying that the procedure in this case proves there is corruption in Pike County,” Fluhr wrote. “Allowing the accused to opt out of this process has led many to believe that corruption and criminals have prevailed.”
Fluhr says he will “continue to fight for the rights of the residents in Shohola no matter what the cost. This battle isn’t over yet!”
But maybe it should be.
The Walls have been probed more than a midnight UFO abductee on a country road.
Like it or not, the agreement is a done deal.
Politically, Shohola is still polarized by those suspicious of the Walls and Wall supporters.
Effective leaders help create unity by focusing on issues of the future.
Perhaps it is time to foster real healing and get over the Walls.