Appeal from the Order of the Court of Common Pleas of Lehigh County in case of James W. Snyder, Jr. v. Bernard B. Naef, No. 298 June Term, 1975.
James G. Kellar, for appellant.
Victor F. Cavacini, with him William E. Schantz, for appellee.
Judges Crumlish, Jr., Mencer and Rogers, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by Judge Rogers.
James W. Snyder, Jr., the controller of Lehigh County, brought suit individually and in his official capacity against Bernard B. Naef, the county solicitor, seeking an order in mandamus directing Mr. Naef to pay over to the county the sum of $27,250 received by him from the proceeds of county bond issues.
The controller alleged in his complaint that the money in question was received by the county solicitor for purported legal services in connection with county bond issues but that any services which the county solicitor rendered in this regard he was bound to perform without compensation other than his salary as county solicitor fixed by the county salary board. The county solicitor filed an answer in which he admitted receiving the $27,250 in addition to his salary. He asserted, however, that this sum was paid to him for services performed in connection with the bond issues, which were not such as were required of him as county solicitor. Mr. Naef's answer is not entirely clear on the point of whether he believed that his services were performed for the county or for special bond counsel employed by the county, or whether he considered that he was paid by the county or by bond counsel from their fee.
The case was tried without a jury by a judge of another judicial district, all of the judges of the 31st District consisting of Lehigh County having recused. The judge rendered a decision in favor of the defendant
county solicitor and thereafter dismissed the controller's exceptions. The controller's appeal from the judge's order is now before us for disposition.*fn1 We reverse and direct the entry of judgment in favor of the plaintiff and of an order requiring the defendant below to pay over the money in question to the county.
Mr. Naef served as Lehigh County solicitor from 1968 through 1976. His salary fixed by the county salary board in the years 1973, 1974 and 1975, during which he additionally received the payments here in question, totaled $47,503.
Under the supervision of special bond counsel, a Philadelphia law firm retained for the purpose, the county had sold an issue of non-electoral general obligation bonds in 1970. Mr. Naef did whatever legal work was required locally in connection with this issue without compensation. When in early 1973 the county undertook to issue more non-electoral general obligation bonds, Mr. Naef telephoned bond counsel who had acted in 1970 and told them that he did not intend to do any work on the new issue without compensation. Bond counsel agreed to divide legal fees charged the county with Mr. Naef. The county sold $7,000,000 of its non-electoral general obligation bonds in April 1973; bond counsel billed the county and was paid $8,500; and bond ...