Longtime Denver solicitor replaced

By on June 11, 2014

Questions of conflict of interest in negotiations with Northern Lancaster County Regional Police

Three municipalities that contract services from East Cocalico Township Police last year considered joining Northern Lancaster County Regional Police Department due to escalating costs.

During critical negotiations — when Denver, Adamstown and West Cocalico Township deliberated whether and how to form their own regional force with East Cocalico Police Department — some council members expressed concern that solicitor, Josele Cleary, might have a conflict of interest due to her firm’s work with another party in the negotiations.

Cleary works with Morgan, Hallgren, Crosswell and Kane, the firm that has represented Denver as far back as anyone can remember, Denver Borough Manager, Mike Hession, said.

All that changed when Denver Borough Council reconvened following a long executive session at their end of May meeting.

Voting 5-2, Denver Council appointed Zimmerman, Pfannebecker, Nuffort and Albert, LLP as solicitor starting July 1.

In a February interview with Denver Council members, Cleary said she represented the borough “completely and without any conflict of interest.”

Cleary said Denver officials knew her firm also represented Adamstown and the NLRPD. She indicated no Denver or Adamstown council member asked that she recuse herself.

The police commission, Cleary said, used outside council for advice on the police proposal.

Still, Denver Council in January reappointed Morgan, Hallgren, Crosswell and Kane for six months and requests for legal representation after June 30 were solicited from interested law firms.

Three firms indicated interest: Morgan, Hallgren, Crosswell and Kane; Zimmerman, Pfannebecker, Nuffort and Albert; and Hartman, Underhill and Brubaker.

Following council’s agreement on questions for the three interviews and extensive deliberation, Zimmerman, Pfannebecker, Nuffort and Albert won the Denver Borough appointment for solicitor.

Voting for the change was President, Blake Daub; Vice-President Mike Gensemer; and council members Christopher Flory, Jason South and Matt Stover.

Voting to retain Morgan, Hallgren, Crosswell and Kane was President Pro-Tem, Walter Fink and councilman Mike Cohick.

“We’ve had the same solicitor for well over 25 years and she’s done an excellent job for Mike Hession and the borough,” said Fink in a telephone interview. “Changing solicitors will cause our borough manager a lot of extra time and effort.”

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