It was on March 20th that long-time city manager Herm Suplizio was arrested and charged by the state’s attorney general. He is accused of stealing half a million dollars and using it for personal use.
Invoices and checks provided to us, after filing a Right-To-Know request, show a law firm representing him has already been paid more than $270,000 since the case began.
It was more than a year ago, on April 7, 2022 when attorney general agents raided DuBois city hall. We obtained video through a Right-to-Know request at the time.
Invoices show the law firm of Reisinger Comber & Miller, from Pittsburgh, began working with DuBois on that very day. In just the first week after the raid, the law firm billed the city almost $14,000. Online court documents list the Pittsburgh law firm as the legal defense for Suplizio. Invoices reveal rates for their service reach $450 an hour.
We received copies of checks totaling $274,000 paid to the attorneys. All the checks say they are from the city of DuBois general fund account.
Patrick Christmas is with the “committee of seventy.” He says his organization fights public corruption and works on governmental reforms. He says, “the standard rate for our law department, when outsourcing this sort of defense work, is about $225 an hour. So, if an hourly rate for this sort of criminal defense is way above that, that is also surprising to me.” “It’s surprising and troubling to me, that apparently the people of DuBois are paying for this criminal defense.”
On March 23, we reported that Suplizio was still working as the city manager, and had access to city hall, despite being charged three days prior. Invoices provided to us end on March 22, the day before we confirmed he was still inside city hall.
We had a crew at last night’s city council meeting. Only Shannon Gabriel was willing to speak to us. The mayor and other council members left before we could interview them.