Reporting Brad Segall
By Brad Segall
NEWTOWN, Pa. (CBS) – The former chairman of the Montgomery County Commissioners picked up a split decision in a courtroom Friday when a district judge tossed out a felony perjury charge, but ordered him to be held for trial on a misdemeanor count.
Berks County Senior District Judge Gloria Stitzel ruled that prosecutors didn’t provide sufficient evidence to show that James Matthews should stand trial on perjury charges.
That ruling came after a four hour preliminary hearing, but she did order the 62-year-old Matthews to stand trial on a charge of false swearing.
Prosecutor John Gradel says it appears the judge found that Matthews lied to the grand jury, but it didn’t affect the outcome of the proceeding.
“Well, I have to respect the judge’s decision and I do, but I respectfully disagree with it,” Gradel also says.
The Grand Jury recommended the charges after an 18-month investigation into political corruption in the county. Gradel says he will huddle up with the district attorney to decide whether to refile the perjury charge. Matthews declined comment, but one of his five attorneys said they were pleased with the ruling.