County detectives investigate whether former councilman broke law by serving ‘invalid’ subpoena
TrLLYTOWN - County detectives are looking into whether an “invalid” subpoena served on a Tullytown business by a county employee rises to the level of criminal conduct. At the very least, Bucks County District Attorney David Heckler said that he is disturbed by what he called an unauthorized abuse of the authority of the court.
The DA said that George Fox, a former Tullytown councilman, served the subpoena Sept. 14 on “innocent” civilians who complied with its demands by furnishing Fox with surveillance video from the business’s security camera. Fox allegedly wanted to examine the video in an effort to catch Councilwoman May Kuchler removing signs from the grassy area around the Levittown Parkway, an act he considered illegal.
Fox had previously filed a complaint over the sign removal with the DA’s office but that complaint was dismissed. He then decided to take matters into his own hands by issuing the subpoena, which is easily obtained from the office where he works.
“A subpoena is an order to appear in court. In this case, there is no court action pending,” he said.
Subpoenas can be purchased by lawyers involved in criminal or civil cases but only when an action is pending in court and there is a docket number, the DA added.
“George is not authorized to serve subpoenas,” the DA said. “We’re not dropping all of our murder cases to go over all this, but the detectives are investigating and when the report is in, I’ll determine whether a crime has been committed.”
The dispute began Sept. 8, the date of the Tullytown picnic, when Kuchler, a member of the council’s streets and buildings committee, decided to remove signs that she felt were illegal and unsightly. The tullytown.org, sign violated the borough’s signs ordinance against advertising, she said.
Tullytown.org is an unofficial newsletter put out by some members of council and Kuchler claims is laced with lies about political opponents..
Contacted on Friday, Fox said he had no comment. But Heckler had plenty to say about borough politicians, some of whom he referred to at knuckleheads.
“Tullytown is the worst governed community in Bucks County and I told them so. The accusations that fly into my office outnumber any other town and, of those complaints, I have never found anything that amounted to malfeasance,” he said. “If [borough politicians] want to play slapstick among themselves, that’s one thing. Involving the court’s authority is another.”
Acting Tullytown Police Chief Dan Doyle said that he was contacted by the business, Farm and Home Oil, located on the Levittown Parkway. They showed him a copy of the subpoena and questioned its legitimacy.
“I checked out the video and I sent the paperwork directly up to the district attorney’s office for investigation,” Doyle said.