Common Pleas Court of the County of Lackawanna Judge MINORA. Appealed From No. 1326, 1327, 1328, 1329, 1330 and 1331 Civil 1997.
Before: Honorable James Gardner Colins, President Judge, Honorable Joseph T. Doyle, Judge, Honorable Charles P. Mirarchi, Jr., Senior Judge.
The opinion of the court was delivered by: Doyle
John J. Olshefski, Bruce Cizik, Celia Gallis, William Bott, Dean T. Sposto, and Thomas P. Rainey (collectively, Candidates) appeal from a decision of the Court of Common Pleas of Lackawanna County which struck their names from the ballot for various offices in the primary election to be held on May 20, 1997, because they failed to timely file a Statement of Financial Interests in accordance with Section 4(b)(2) of the Public Officials and Employee Ethics Act (Ethics Act). *fn1
We believe that the trial Judge, Judge Carmen D. Minora, has, in a well-reasoned and incisive opinion, thoroughly framed, discussed, and resolved the issues presented by this appeal. Consequently, we believe that it is appropriate to affirm the decision of the Common Pleas Court by adopting the opinion authored by Judge Minora, which is reproduced in pertinent part below with minor editorial changes:
"The following Stipulations of Fact have been agreed to by the parties by and through their respective legal counsel.
1. The municipal primary election this year is on May 20, 1997.
2. The last day for all filings for the May 20, 1997 municipal primary was March 11, 1997.
3. All the Respondents in this series of cases are members of the Democratic party.
4. Each candidate filed Nominating Petitions and Statements of Financial Interest with the Lackawanna County Bureau of Elections on or before March 11, 1997.
5. Two Council Persons who collected Statements of Financial Interest are incumbent office holders.
6. Respondent Bruce Cizik, candidate for Council, who responded at 97 CIVIL 1327, took his Statement of Financial Interest on March 7, 1997, and gave it to incumbent Council Person Anthony Gallis at Anthony Gallis offices located on Oak Street in Scranton, Pennsylvania.
7. Respondent Dean T. Sposto, candidate for Council, who responded at 97 CIVIL 1330, on March 10, 1997, gave his Statement of Financial Interest to incumbent Council Person Donald Kazmerski at Dean T. Sposto's apartment located within Dickson City.
8. Respondent Thomas P. Rainey, candidate for Borough Controller, who responded at 97 CIVIL 1331, gave his Statement of Financial Interest to Donald Kazmerski at the home of Thomas P. Rainey in Dickson City on March 9, 1997.
9. Respondent John J. Olshefski, III, candidate for Borough Mayor, on March 7, 1997, gave his Statement of Financial Interest to Anthony Gallis at the office of Anthony Gallis on Oak Street in Scranton, Pennsylvania.
10. Respondent Celia Gallis, candidate for Borough Tax Collector, who responded at 97 CIVIL 1328, on March 7, 1997, gave her Statement of Financial Interest to Anthony Gallis at their home in Dickson City.
11. Respondent William Bott, candidate for Borough Council, who responded at 97 CIVIL 1329 gave his Statement of Financial Interest to Anthony Gallis at the offices of Anthony Gallis located on Oak Street in Scranton, Pennsylvania.
12. Donald Kazmerski then presented the documents he had received from Dean T. Sposto on March 10, 1997, and Thomas P. Rainey on March 9, 1997, to Anthony Gallis on March 10, 1997, at the Gallis home in Dickson City.
13. On March 18, 1997, Mr. Gallis transported these various Statements of Financial Interest to the Borough Building in Dickson City, after having collected the two from Mr. Kazmerski and the four that Anthony Gallis collected personally both in Dickson City and at his office in Scranton.
This concludes the Stipulations of Fact as agreed to by the parties.
"The Court also engaged in certain Findings of Fact after the taking of testimony in this particular case. Findings of Fact the Court has concluded are as follows:
1. Mr. Gallis testified that all the documents, once secured, were on his desk in his insurance office in the City of Scranton in a folder and that it was his understanding that they had been filed when they were filed with a borough official, specifically himself.
2. Mr. Gallis' office is located at 1101-1102 Oak Street in Scranton, Pennsylvania.
3. Mr. Gallis told the various candidates that he would take their Statements of Financial Interest to the Borough Secretary.
4. That there exists a building and situs containing the offices of the Borough of Dickson City which are open from 8:00 A.M. to 4:00 P.M. weekdays and that the Borough of ...