HUGHESVILLE - As the county judge race kicks off, conflict-of-interest complaints are being filed against one candidate, and a state level disciplinary investigation still looms over another.
Hughesville attorney Mary Kilgus has filed two conflict-of-interest ethics complaints against Lycoming County District Attorney Eric R. Linhardt, alleging he launched an investigation against her as a political stunt at the beginning of her campaign for county judge.
But Linhardt, who also is running for the judge seat, said when the investigation began he was unaware of Kilgus's intentions to run, and as soon as he found out he turned the investigation over to the state Attorney General's Office.
"I hope the people see that this was politically motivated and was intended to keep me out of the race," Kilgus said. She said it was known among her peers that she intended to run.
Linhardt denied having knowledge of Kigus's decision to run.
"I didn't know about it until (the candidacy) was announced in the paper on the 12th," Linhardt said, referring to the date in January.
Additionally, Linhardt said that when the investigation began, the two witnesses who brought information forward, were interviewed by the state police and then a search warrant was approved by First Assistant District Attorney Kenneth Osokow and District Judge Jon E. Kemp.
A surprise raid of Kilgus's office was conducted by law enforcement on Jan. 10 while her announcement was released to the media on Jan. 7. According to Linhardt, after he saw Kilgus's announcement on the 12th he turned the investigation over to the Attorney General's Office.
Lindhardt said the state Disciplinary Board was conducting an investigation because the two witnesses the two witnesses came to Linhardt's office on Dec. 27.
In a previous statement, Kilgus's attorney, Robert Hoffa, stated the return of property meant the investigation was over, from their point of view.
Kilgus's complaint against Linhardt also alleges the two witnesses, her previous office manager and paralegal, are "disgruntled employees" and were not properly vetted before the warrant was approved.
However, Linhardt said their credibility is presumed because they have identified themselves to authorities and that 3 different law enforcement agencies were involved.
Kilgus said she hopes her two complaints against Linhardt will shed light on unethical actions.
Kilgus said. "I'm not going to let him stop me from running. This was an utter witch hunt against my office. This was designed to quell or stop me from running," Kilgus said.
Eric Linhardt announced his candidacy for the same judge seat on Jan. 26.