Binsack attorney allowed to withdraw; defendant given deadline on dismissal
WILLIAMSPORT - A federal judge has granted a motion filed by Frank E. Kepner Jr. to withdraw as legal counsel for Scott J. Binsack involving a lawsuit he filed against Shamokin and city and state parole officials.
The Berwick attorney filed the motion last month, claiming his client dropped him and owed "substantial" bills for his legal services.
U.S. Magistrate Judge William I. Arbuckle III granted an order Tuesday allowing Kepner to withdraw as counsel because Binsack did not respond to Kepner's motion and subsequent brief supporting his motion.
In his brief, Kepner said issues relating to mutual trust and confidence have severely compromised his ability to engage in effective trial preparation. Kepner also asserted that Binsack would not be prejudiced by his withdrawal since he can retain substitute counsel without payment of the outstanding debt owed to him. In his brief, Kepner said he will provide substitute counsel with indexed files of all documents in Binsack's litigation.
Arbuckle's order also states that Binsack has until April 15 to file a brief in opposition to a Jan. 25 motion to dismiss his complaint.
Kepner previously said he received a letter from Binsack indicating "he no longer wishes" to have him as counsel for a pending federal lawsuit against the City of Shamokin and city and state parole officials, according to court documents.
Listed as defendants in the suit are the City of Shamokin, Pennsylvania Board of Probation and Parole, Shamokin City Clerk Steve Bartos, Shamokin Councilman R. Craig Rhoades, Shamokin Code Officer Rick Bozza, Chief of Police Ed Griffiths and state parole agents Susan Stout and David Frederick.
Binsack, who resided in Shamokin, is currently jailed at SCI-Rockview, Centre County, on a parole violation stemming from a bad check conviction in Lackawanna County, according to The Times-Shamrock archives.
Kepner filed a lawsuit in November on Binsack's behalf claiming his client's constitutional rights were violated by city and state parole officials. Tens of thousands of dollars in compensatory and punitive damages are sought.
Attorneys for the defendants have petitioned the court to have the lawsuit dismissed, arguing that it lacks merit.
Binsack was sued Jan. 14 in Northumberland County Court by S&S International Property Group LLC. The Nevada firm claims to have hired him as a consultant to locate investment properties.
The firm alleges among other claims that Binsack breached a contract by failing to purchase three parcels in Coal Township on their behalf, instead eventually deeding them into his own living trust.
The lawsuit says Binsack provided no expert advice, misrepresented himself as a part-owner and landlord, did not disclose his prior criminal background and parole conditions, and is not entitled to any rental income from the property in question.
More than $25,000 is sought in judgment, money the firm says was wired to Binsack to acquire the parcels, including 1021-1023 W. Independence St., and that they be deeded solely to S&S International Property Group LLC. Attorney's fees and costs are also sought.
S&S International Property Group LLC is owned by Margaret C. and Sandra Phelps, both of Reno, Nev. It is a different firm from S&S Capital LLC, owned by Steven Crone and for whom Binsack has said he was also working as a consultant.
Binsack clashed with city officials after details of his past troubles in northeastern Pennsylvania resurfaced. He claimed conspiracy in a series of web videos posted to Facebook under the moniker "Something's Smokin' in Shamokin."
He failed to show for a parole meeting on Oct. 25 and taunted law enforcement online, and was later apprehended in New York on Nov. 20, the same day his lawsuit was filed. He was recommitted to prison for six months and, upon release in May, must report to a community corrections residency along with obeying other terms.