SUNBURY - John P. Muncer resigned Wednesday as solicitor for the Northumberland County Prison Board after being advised by Commissioner Richard Shoch that holding the position may pose a conflict of interest with his duties as county assistant solicitor.

Shoch, who serves as prison board acting chairman, said he received an email from Muncer Wednesday morning stating his intention to resign as solicitor. When contacted after the prison board meeting, Muncer said, "Mr. Shoch told me he thought holding the position is a possible conflict of interest so I thought it was best for me to resign until the commissioners and prison board can resolve the issue."

In reviewing a county statute, Muncer said he believes being assistant county solicitor and prison board solicitor doesn't pose a conflict of interest. He said the statute doesn't require the prison board to have a solicitor.

Muncer, 55, of Sunbury, was appointed assistant solicitor and prison board solicitor in February 2012. District Attorney Tony Rosini was forced to lay off Muncer when the county salary board eliminated one of his five assistant district attorneys Jan. 25, 2012, as part of cost-cutting measures.

He succeeded his longtime friend, James J. Rosini, who was killed Feb. 8, 2012, in a violent two-vehicle crash in Everglades City, Fla., that also claimed the lives of his wife, Patricia Rosini, his brother, William Rosini, and William Rosini's companion, Deborah Korbich.

Muncer earns approximately $60,000 per year as assistant county solicitor. He didn't receive any extra salary for serving as prison board solicitor.

Voting to accept Muncer's resignation, which becomes effective immediately, were Shoch, Tony Rosini and Controller Chris Grayson. Commissioner Stephen Bridy voted "no" because he believes no conflict of interest exists with Muncer holding both positions.

Sheriff Robert Wolfe was absent. Commissioner Vinny Clausi attempted to participate in the meeting through a speaker phone in the prison library, but after a few minutes, he hung up after becoming frustrated that he couldn't hear anything.

Rosini said attorney Todd Kerstetter had served as an independent solicitor for the prison board for several years prior to the assistant county solicitor serving in the role. The majority of the board agreed with Rosini's recommendation to advertise for the position in a legal journal. Bridy opposed the move.

Shoch said it's important for the prison board to have its own solicitor because it often deals with legal issues that need a lawyer's expertise.

Bridy also cited concerns with the prison paying approximately $5,200 to house inmates in prisons in Montour, Columbia and Snyder counties in February.

Rosini said some of the inmates were transferred to other county jails at his request to avoid "retaliations" against each other.

The district attorney commended Warden Roy Johnson for doing a "great job" in staying under budget.

Johnson said parts of a recently amended visitation policy need to be clarified so it can be better enforced.

The warden told Rosini only two inmates are currently on work release because there is little employment available in the area.