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LESTER H. ZIMMERMAN v. BETTY S. CARTER ET AL. (01/30/87)

decided: January 30, 1987.

LESTER H. ZIMMERMAN, JR., APPELLANT
v.
BETTY S. CARTER ET AL., APPELLEES



Appeal from the Order of the Court of Common Pleas of Juniata County in the case of Betty S. Carter, Treasurer of Juniata County, and M. Richard Jones, Ronald Clyde Shearer and Dorothy E. Delbaugh, Commissioners of Juniata County v. Lester H. Zimmerman, Jr., District Attorney of Juniata County, No. 544 of 1979.

COUNSEL

Randall E. Zimmerman, Barron & Zimmerman, for appellant.

Clyde R. Bomgardner, with him, Andrew L. Winder, for appellees.

Judges Rogers, Palladino and Blatt, sitting as a panel of three. President Judge Crumlish, Jr., and Judges Craig, MacPhail, Doyle, Barry, Colins and Palladino. Opinion by Judge MacPhail. Dissenting Opinion by Judge Palladino.

Author: Macphail

[ 103 Pa. Commw. Page 390]

Lester H. Zimmerman, Jr. (Appellant) has brought this appeal from an order of the Court of Common Pleas of Juniata County which dismissed his exceptions to an order directing Appellant to transfer ownership and control of certain funds to the Treasurer and Commissioners of Juniata County (Appellees). The court also dismissed Appellant's counterclaim.

Appellant served as District Attorney for Juniata County for a four-year term beginning in January, 1976. On September 30, 1975, his predecessor had entered into a Cooperative Agreement with the Department of Public Welfare (DPW) which provided for reimbursement for costs incurred by the District Attorney in prosecuting certain paternity and child support cases. The federal government provided the funding for these reimbursements pursuant to Title IV-D of the Social Security Act, 42 U.S.C. ยงยง 651-667.*fn1

[ 103 Pa. Commw. Page 391]

During his term as District Attorney, Appellant applied for and received periodic reimbursements from DPW totaling approximately $28,000. At first, Appellant routinely endorsed the checks received by him from DPW over to the County. Appellant became increasingly concerned, however, that the County was not utilizing the funds in accord with the terms of the Cooperative Agreement which provided, in pertinent part, that:

The reimbursement payments . . . are to be earmarked for the purpose of strengthening the mission of the District Attorney in the prosecution of paternity cases and cases to obtain and enforce child support orders and are not to be used for any other purpose, nor shall any appropriation made for the operation of the District Attorney's office be reduced by reason of payments made under this Agreement.

Apparently based on Appellant's concern that he could be held liable for any improper use of the Title IV-D funds, Appellant ceased endorsing the funds over to the County during 1979 and instead deposited them in a separate trust account.

Appellees subsequently filed an action in mandamus seeking to have the funds which had been withheld by Appellant transferred to the County treasury. Appellant filed an answer in which he included a counterclaim asserting his entitlement to the funds which had already been transferred to the County but which Appellant alleges were disbursed in violation of the Cooperative Agreement. Following a bench trial, the Appellees' request for mandamus relief was granted and the counterclaim dismissed.

The issues raised on appeal generally involve the question of whether the District Attorney or the County is entitled to ...


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