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NEW CASTLE District justice steps aside



Published: Thu, May 17, 2001 @ 12:00 a.m.



Cubbal's hearing was continued when it was learned his original public defender had a conflict of interest.

By LAURE CIOFFI

VINDICATOR NEW CASTLE BUREAU

NEW CASTLE, Pa. -- An area man accused of stealing money from the New Castle Parking Authority wants a different district justice to hear his case.

District Justice Melissa Amodie agreed to excuse herself from the case after admitting she heard incriminating evidence against Paul John Cubbal Jr., 49, of East Friendship Street, at the April 27 preliminary hearings of two other men accused of stealing money from the parking authority.

Cubbal, along with Donald E. Pallerino, 55, former parking authority executive director, of Naples, Fla., and Pallerino's son, John Pallerino, 28, of Cape Coral, Fla., have been charged with stealing more than $12,000 from the authority -- including money collected from city parking meters.

Police also believe Donald Pallerino used some 73 parking authority checks totaling $8,000 for personal use.

The charges are the result of a yearlong investigation.

Another change: All three men were scheduled for preliminary hearings April 27, but Cubbal's was rescheduled when it was determined his public defender, Dennis A. Elisco, had a conflict of interest. Joseph Kearney was later appointed by the court to represent Cubbal.

Both Pallerinos were ordered to stand trial at their preliminary hearings last month.

There was evidence given at those hearings that was prejudicial against Cubbal, however, Kearney said.

He asked Amodie to step down from the case because she heard that evidence and Cubbal's attorney was not there to ask the witnesses any questions.

Amodie agreed to remove herself from the case to avoid any appearance of impropriety.

Michael Bonner, an assistant county district attorney, said he was disappointed that the hearing was continued. He believed Amodie could be objective during Cubbal's hearing.

A new preliminary hearing date and a judge will be set sometime next week.

cioffi@vindy.com




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