Archive for category john morganelli

Where Morganelli stands on Toomey questioner’s 1st Amendment rights

A participant in a televised town hall asked if the senator had heard news that his teenage daughter was kidnapped.

An audience member removed from a televised town hall with U.S…

TIMELINE: Drinking parties to the death of a Lafayette College student

There is no evidence McCrae Williams was the victim of any criminal activity beyond underage drinking, prosecutor says.

Lafayette student’s death likely not linked to hazing, DA says

Northampton County District Attorney John Morganelli suspects the 19-year-old fell on a dorm bathroom floor.

TIMELINE: From drinking to the death of a Lafayette College stu…

DA ready to discuss death of Lafayette College student

The news conference will include Easton police.

Watch video

UPDATE: Lafayette student’s death likely not linked to hazing, DA says
Northampton County Distric…

Will longtime district attorney run for Congress?

John Morganelli is weighing a run in the 15th District, according to his Facebook page.

Just about every voter in the Lehigh Valley knows who Northampton County District Attorney…

Grand jury rules in police killing of Slate Belt man with firework around neck

Troopers shot the 47-year-old six times as he threatened suicide and tried to light the device in Lower Mount Bethel.

A Northampton County grand jury has found Pennsylvania State…

District attorney plans announcement on state police homicide

Pennsylvania State Police fatally shot Anthony Ardo, 47, outside his Lower Mount Bethel Township home.

Watch video

Northampton County District Attorney John Morga…

Rebranding John Morganelli

Rudiger Lyle MartinezDuring daylight hours, he’s your typical Northampton County courthouse worker. But once that clock hits 4:30 pm, Rudiger Lyle Martinez is out the door and working on his second job as a rising political pundit. In a rare interview …

NorCo Grand Jury to Investigate PSP Homicide

Five weeks ago, Pennsylvania State Police shot and killed Anthony Ardo at or near his mother’s farm in Lower Mount Bethel Township. The previous day, she obtained a temporary Protection from Abuse Act Order against him. A drug addict, he had threatened…

‘They rushed too quickly’: Mother of man slain by police backs independent probe

Northampton County District Attorney John Morganelli announced a grand jury investigation into Anthony Ardo’s homicide.

Watch video

Jean Monaghan’s last memory of her only son is of him lying in a pool of blood, fatally shot by Pennsylvania State Police on May 20 outside the Lower Mount Bethel Township home they shared. 

anthony-ardo.jpgAnthony P. Ardo is seen in an undated photo provided by his family. The 47-year-old was fatally shot May 20, 2017, by Pennsylvania State Police outside his Lower Mount Bethel Township home. (Courtesy photo | For lehighvalleylive.com) 

She had called for police that morning with hopes they could get Anthony P. Ardo to a hospital or into a program that would help him overcome his drug addiction and anger. 

“And they opened fire on him,” Monaghan said Thursday afternoon in the shade of a tree on her rural property south of Bangor, a few feet from where Tony, as Ardo was known, was killed. He was 47.

Exposing a rift with the policies of the state police, Northampton County District Attorney John Morganelli earlier Thursday announced the county’s investigative grand jury will look into whether troopers were justified. The probe is expected to begin next week and wrap up by year’s end. The two troopers involved remain on administrative duty.

State police Troop M is also having its major case team conduct its own investigation. The findings, expected in two or three weeks, will be sent to Morganelli for review and a decision on the disposition of the case, according to state police.

It’s state police policy to conduct an internal review of a trooper-involved shooting, said Capt. Richard D’Ambrosio, commanding officer for Bethlehem-based Troop M.

“Whenever we have an officer-involved shooting and obviously involving our troopers and it occurs in a jurisdiction which is ours, which was the case here, our policy is that our people will handle the investigation,” D’Ambrosio said.

Monaghan questions how state police can investigate two of their own, a concern shared by Morganelli.

“The simple truth is that in order to assure public confidence in the ultimate decision to be made with respect to this matter, it is crucial that the investigation itself be independent and unbiased,” the district attorney said. “Quite frankly, it is my view that a homicide committed by a police officer cannot and should not be investigated by a fraternity of police officers all of whom are members of the same fraternity.

“Criminal investigations, in particular criminal investigations of homicide involving the use of deadly force by a police officer against a citizen of our county, requires complete impartiality and neutrality.”

Protection-from-abuse order

Monaghan had taken her son in to help him, but in the time leading up to the shooting, she grew to fear him. On May 19, the day before Ardo was killed, Monaghan obtained a temporary protection-from-abuse order against her son over his violent, drug-fueled outbursts.

“He is very disrespectful,” she told county officials, according to court records. “When he is high he gets very violent and abusive. I’m afraid of him.”

Ardo had been attending the New Directions methadone clinic in Bethlehem Township for years but was continuing to use street drugs, the records say. Monaghan gave him a job maintaining her Meadow Creek Farm, agreeing to compensation of $10 an hour but usually paying him more. 

It wasn’t enough for Ardo, and when he would lose his temper he would scream in his mother’s face or punch the walls, she said. 

“The last two weeks have been brutal,” Monaghan told officials.

On May 19, he didn’t want to go to the methadone clinic. He stormed out of the house, threatening to “rob you blind,” he reportedly told his mother. 

Monaghan never stopped wanting to help her son.

“I got him back here for help and now he’s just …,” she said, breaking off in tears. “It’s a freaking nightmare.”

‘Rushed too quickly’

State police said they responded May 20 to the home owned by Monaghan for a call about a suicidal man and found Ardo with a fireworks mortar around his neck. They shot him after he refused their orders and attempted to light the fuse, according to police.

“I think they rushed too quickly,” said Monaghan, who was on the phone with her son as she watched the ordeal unfold. 

In the wake of the homicide, she fears troopers policing themselves is not enough.

“I just don’t agree with the internal procedure of the state police,” she said. “I just have a real problem with them having a license to kill.”

Morganelli orders probe of fatal state police shooting

Morganelli said he has no reason to believe state police acted improperly, but that an independent investigation is necessary to determine the facts. 

That is also the view of the Pennsylvania District Attorneys’ Association under a best-practices policy adopted in November in response to national concerns about police-involved shootings, Morganelli said.

“I am not saying that investigators of the PSP could not be objective,” he said. “What I am saying is that in order to have public confidence in the ultimate findings and decisions relative to the investigation itself, it is absolutely necessary that the matter be reviewed in an objective fashion so that the investigation itself does not become the subject of criticism. …

“The powers of the grand jury is the best way to assure that the ultimate outcome and decisions of this matter are accepted as a fair and righteous resolution of the circumstances as they occurred on May 20, 2017.”

D’Ambrosio pledged the continued cooperation of state police in the county’s probe, though he said it will be up to the troopers and their counsel as to whether they respond to the grand jury’s requests.

“Mr. Morganelli and our office have always had an excellent working relationship,” D’Ambrosio said. “I don’t see anything changing.”

Kurt Bresswein may be reached at kbresswein@lehighvalleylive.com. Follow him on Twitter @KurtBresswein. Find lehighvalleylive.com on Facebook.