District Judge cited with harassment; President judge reassigns criminal cases

By Ed Lewis [email protected]

WILKES-BARRE — State police at Hazleton have cited District Judge Daniel O’Donnell with harassment after investigating an incident involving his 80-year-old father-in-law.

Luzerne County President Judge Michael T. Vough said he issued a court order just before 12 p.m. transferring all criminal cases from O’Donnell to District Judge Joseph Zola in Hazleton.

Vough said O’Donnell, 51, of Butler Township, can continue to preside over civil and traffic matters.

The harassment citation filed against O’Donnell is graded as a summary.

District Attorney Stefanie Salavantis in response to an inquiry from the Times Leader three weeks ago stated her office received a complaint about O’Donnell that she referred to the state police at Hazleton.

When reached early Friday afternoon, O’Donnell said on advice of his attorney he won’t provide any comment and plans to plead not guilty. He refused to provide the name of his lawyer.

O’Donnell was elected district judge in the 1999 campaign and took office in January 2000 serving Butler Township, Conyngham Borough, Conyngham Township, Sugarloaf Borough and Sugarloaf Township. He was formally a police officer for Butler Township.

Vough said he will request the Administrative Office of Pennsylvania Courts to assign a magisterial district judge from outside Luzerne County to preside over the summary trial.