Reform group slams new sheriff

    New Philadelphia Sheriff Barbara Deeley has had an eventful start as the city’s first woman to hold the job.

    On her second day in office yesterday she endured assaults on her deputies and her reputation.

    Just before noon, Deeley said deputies had a violent encounter with a man who was angry that a house he wanted to bid on was removed from a sheriff’s sale auction. Deeley said he  took his frustration out on four deputies, sending three to the hospital with minor injuries.

    “I understand he was a pretty big guy, six feet three, almost three hundred pounds,” Deeley said. “When (the house he wanted) didn’t go up for sale, he got pissed off and started swinging.”

    The man, identified by police as James Porter, 45, was charged with assault. The three deputies were treated and released .

    (The police gave our Shannon McDonald a somewhat tamer version of the incident, saying Porter elbowed one deputy and shoved others who were trying to get him to calm down and leave).

    Meanwhile, Deeley said she placed a call yesterday to the government reform group Committee of Seventy, asking for a meeting with president Zack Stalberg. Seventy is one of many voices that have harshly criticized the management of the Sheriff’s office.

    Before Deeley got a response, she heard that Stalberg had written a letter to the Majority Leader of the State Senate, urging him not to confirm Gov. Rendell’s appointment of Deeley as Sheriff.

    “He’s never even met me,” an angry Deeley said.

    Stalberg’s letter said the office faced serious allegations of mismanagement under former Sheriff John Green, and that he should be replaced by someone without Deeley’s longstanding ties.

    Deeley, who was Green’s chief of staff, told me she plans some “big changes” in the office, which she’ll be announcing soon.

    She also said she’ll cooperate fully with forensic auditors from City Controller Alan Butkovitz, who says things are a mess in the office, and he plans to get to the bottom of it.

    I think we’ll be coming back to this subject often.

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