Friday, September 5, 2008
Former Allegheny County Coroner Cyril Wecht will stand trial again on theft and fraud charges, but there will be a different judge presiding. Wecht is accused of using his county office to benefit his private pathology practice. The first trial on 41 felony counts ended with a hung jury and U.S. District Judge Arthur Schwab declared a mistrial April 8. The defense argued that a second trial would be double jeopardy. The 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that although Judge Schwab did not follow proper procedures in declaring the mistrial, that was not enough to dismiss the charges. The appellate court did order that Judge Schwab be removed from the case and another judge assigned. U.S. Attorney Mary Beth Buchanan, whose office is prosecuting Wecht, issued a statement saying that her office is pleased the Court of Appeals concluded that the double jeopardy clause does not preclude a retrial in the case.