Long-delayed Trial For “fake” Scranton Lawyer Set For October
A Scranton man who filed multiple appeals that delayed his trial on charges he illegally practiced law is now seeking to have the case dismissed, arguing authorities violated his right to a speedy trial. Joseph Pilchesky, 69, was charged in February 2013, with four counts of unauthorized practice of law. Authorities say Pilchesky, who is not an attorney, took money from several people he assisted with legal matters. The case was repeatedly delayed because of appeals of pretrial matters, most of which were filed by Pilchesky, and the decision of two Lackawanna County judges to recuse themselves from presiding over the case. It is now set to go to trial before Lackawanna County Judge James Gibbons on Oct. 15. Pilchesky recently filed a motion seeking to dismiss the charges, arguing the state attorney general’s office, which is prosecuting the case, failed to bring him to trial within 365 days, as required by law. In a reply to the motion, Deputy Attorney General Philip McCarthy argued Pilchesky’s right to a speedy trial was not violated because most of the delay is attributable to him. Over the years, Pilchesky sought numerous continuances and filed several appeals of pretrial matters. He also sought, and secured, the recusal of two judges. The time spent on those matters is excluded from consideration in determining if the speedy trial rule was violated, McCarthy said. McCarthy acknowledged prosecutors also caused part of the delay because they appealed a 2015 pretrial ruling Gibbons made regarding the burden of proof that must be met to secure a conviction. Prosecutors argued they needed to prove only that Pilchesky acted as an attorney. Gibbons said the state also must prove Pilchesky intentionally misled people to believe he was licensed to practice law. The state Superior Court reversed that ruling in December 2016. McCarthy contends the time it took to decide the appeal did not count toward the speedy trial rule because Pilchesky’s attorney at the time, John Brier, agreed with the filing of the appeal. Pilchesky also is challenging other parts of the case, including arguing prosecutors do not have sufficient evidence to support the charges. Gibbons scheduled a hearing Thursday on all the matters. Contact the writer: firstname.lastname@example.org; 570-348-9137; @tmbeseckerTT on Twitter MONDAY UPDATE brings Times-Tribune readers up to date on past or pending stories of interest. To offer a suggestion for a Monday Update, please email email@example.com with “Monday Update” in the subject line.