A Doylestown criminal defense attorney was publicly reprimanded by the state Supreme Court’s disciplinary board on Wednesday, a little more than two years after he leaked key evidence in one of the most notorious crimes in Bucks County history.
In 2018, William Craig Penglase agreed to do an interview with NBC10, and provided the station with a recording of confessions made by his client Sean Kratz and Kratz’s cousin Cosmo DiNardo. Penglase spoke to NBC10 just days before Kratz was expected to plead guilty for his role in murdering three men after luring them to a farm DiNardo’s family owned under the pretext of a drug deal.
DiNardo separately killed a fourth man, and tried to bury the bodies on the property.
“Your decision to conduct an interview with the news media … prior to your client’s guilty plea violated the ethical rules regarding competency, confidentiality and the administration of justice,” board chair James C. Haggerty told Penglase during the proceedings Wednesday.
Haggerty said that Penglase’s belief that the tapes would not be made public before Kratz’s plea was “imprudent and irresponsible,” and that the leak led to complex pretrial issues after Kratz made the unexpected decision to forgo his negotiated plea and put his fate in the hands of a jury.
The confessions detailed the slayings as told to two county detectives. Two television stations aired them on the same day that Kratz rejected the plea deal. DiNardo had already pleaded guilty to the four murders and was in state prison.
Penglase admitted to Bucks County District Attorney Matthew Weintraub that he had leaked the footage, and filed a petition to be removed from Kratz’s case. He was eventually replaced by Philadelphia lawyer A. Charles Peruto Jr.
In November, a jury found Kratz guilty of first-degree murder in the death of Dean Finocchiaro and voluntary manslaughter in the deaths of Thomas Meo and Mark Sturgis. Kratz is serving a life sentence without parole for Finocchiaro’s slaying at SCI Forest in northwestern Pennsylvania.
The videos Penglase leaked featured prominently in Kratz’s trial, providing an exact retelling of the murders and hasty attempts to remove evidence by the men responsible.
In one recording, DiNardo described in a calm, matter-of-face tone shooting the men and trying to burn their bodies in a pig roaster.
"His head was split the hell open," DiNardo said in describing Finocchiaro's death.
Kratz also admitted to shooting Finocchiaro. He told investigators he had been afraid of DiNardo, and fired the gun when his cousin told him to.