Bridgeville Borough Council recognized the resignation of councilman Jason Sarasnick yesterday and appointed a new councilman to fill the vacancy.
Joseph P. Verduci, former president of the Bridgeville Athletic Association, will serve in Sarasnick’s place until the 2017 municipal election. Then, the voters will decide who fills the remaining two years of Sarasnick’s four-year term.
By day, Verduci is a vice-president at Brentwood Bank, which is opening a branch at the Crossings in South Fayette. He was not available for comment today.
Sarasnick’s resignation comes two weeks after Allegheny County District Attorney Stephen A. Zappala, Jr. announced that the two-term councilman was ineligible to fulfill his third term because of a criminal conviction from a quarter-century ago.
Pennsylvania’s constitution prohibits people guilty of “infamous crimes” from serving in public office. All felonies are infamous crimes, according to Pennsylvania’s Supreme Court.
Nobody objected to Sarasnick being elected to his first two terms. In fact, most people aren’t even aware of the state law regarding felony convictions. But when a McKeesport councilman-elect was barred from office recently because of an old criminal conviction, somebody tipped off the district attorney’s office that Sarasnick might be ineligible, too.
When acknowledging Sarasnick’s resignation letter, councilmembers insisted that they “recognized” it, rather than “accept” it.
Moving forward, Sarasnick has limited options to contest the state law.
A court battle would be long and extremely costly.
Gov. Tom Wolf could issue a pardon, which would allow Sarasnick to serve in the office to which he was elected. But there’s a years-long wait at the state’s Board of Pardons, and Wolf’s office claims that the governor is helpless to expedite the process.
Correction: An earlier version of this story incorrectly said that Verduci was appointed to serve the full remainder of Sarasnick’s four-year term. Verduci has been appointed to serve until the next municipal election. The winning candidate from that election will serve the final two years.