Gilberton chief's suspension extended indefinitely
MAHANOY PLANE - Gilberton Borough Council held a special meeting Friday and decided to extend the 30-day suspension of borough police Chief Mark Kessler indefinitely.
The meeting lasted less than five minutes and was attended by all seven council members, all who voted for the extension. Two attorneys - Joseph J. Joyce and Larry Moran - from the law firm Elliott Greenleaf & Dean, sat at the council table. The law firm was retained at the Aug. 14 council meeting as special counsel involving all matters dealing with Kessler.
Kessler and his attorney, Joseph P. Nahas, did not attend the meeting. About 10 members of the public attended, and the small meeting room was filled with members of the news media.
Kessler was suspended effective Aug. 1 after a borough council special meeting July 31. The suspension was related to YouTube videos that he posted that included profanity and firing of automatic weapons.
However, the suspension was based on his use of borough weapons without permission by borough council. Kessler claims he did nothing wrong since his police contract permits him to use the weapons on his own time.
Kessler willing to extend suspension
The meeting was opened by council President Daniel Malloy, who announced that borough council, Mayor Mary Lou Hannon and special counsel met in executive session on Aug. 27 to discuss personnel issues concerning Kessler and no council action was taken.
Hannon read a letter from Nahas about a disciplinary meeting that was scheduled for 9 a.m. Friday with Kessler, Nahas and special counsel, but because Nahas was unable to attend due to a court date, Kessler had made a request through Nahas' letter to special counsel attorney John G. Dean.
"I received notification from my client, Mark Kessler, at approximately 4:06 p.m. that he would be willing to extend his unpaid suspension so that he and I may attend the newly-scheduled meeting. Please proceed accordingly," Nahas wrote.
Hannon then asked council for a motion to accept the letter requesting the extension of the suspension. The motion was made by council Vice President Eric Boxer, seconded by William Hannon.
Malloy opened the floor for comments only from the public. With no public comment offered, the meeting was adjourned.
Meeting may be next week
Around noon, Nahas was contacted by The Republican-Herald about the disciplinary meeting that had been scheduled earlier in the day. Nahas said the Elliott Greenleaf law firm through Dean had scheduled the hearing for 9 a.m., but he could not attend.
"They gave us a two-day notice. Mark got the notice on Wednesday evening," said Nahas. "Mark told me about it. I asked for it to be postponed because I was in court. Dean was accommodating, but I haven't received a notice to reschedule, though it is my understanding that it will be rescheduled, possibly for next week."
Nahas read a portion of the letter he received from Dean about the Friday morning meeting:
"This letter is a followup of a conversation this morning when you advised me that neither you or your client are available to attend the meeting scheduled for Friday morning. Gilberton Borough Council arranged this meeting to occur Friday, Aug. 30, at 9 a.m. to address the borough's concerns about your client's employment and afford him an opportunity to respond to these concerns."
Nahas said he'll be waiting to work out a time for the meeting.
No violence, PFA
Rumors have been circulating around the Internet that Kessler had incited his followers to use violence as a protest depending on what happened at the meeting, but in a post on his Facebook page, Kessler asked for restraint from his followers no matter what the decision would be by borough council.
"Regardless of the out come of this meeting in Gilberton, I ask everyone to refrain from using any type of violence! This will be fought in the court room by nationally-renowned defense attorney Nahas," wrote Kessler.
In a related matter, Boxer said rumors about him applying for a "protection from abuse" (PFA) order is just that - rumors.
"I am not going to press charges against Kessler. I'm not getting a PFA. I'm not getting anything," said Boxer. "There are no hard feeling against Mark."
With media asking a variety of questions about the Kessler situation, Moran said, "There's going to be no more comment, certainly from the attorneys, the council and the mayor. We're talking about personnel issues, and we won't comment on personnel issues."