Two former Folcroft borough officials displayed "callous indifference" to their constituents, a judge said yesterday as he sentenced them to three to 23 months in jail for tampering with public records.
Anthony Truscello, 70, a former borough manager, and Joseph Zito, 52, the former Folcroft Borough Council vice president, sat emotionless as Senior Judge Albert A. Stallone spoke.
In December, a jury found the two guilty of tampering with public records, but acquitted them of invasion-of-privacy and wiretapping charges.
Truscello and Zito had installed video equipment in 2003 to secretly tape police officers in their locker room. Prosecutors said they were trying to discredit former Police Chief Ed Christie, who had planned to run against Truscello's daughter, Deborah, for her seat as a magisterial judge.
The charge of tampering with public records involved altering the borough invoices to hide the installation of the video cameras.
"In short, you tricked the Borough Council into paying for your cameras when they thought they were only paying for emergency lighting," said Stallone. "This is why the citizens of Folcroft Borough had every reason to be outraged and why this judge is also outraged."
Stallone, from Berks County, called Truscello the "mastermind of the surveillance" who had a responsibility for "not only upholding the law but also enforcing the law." Truscello was a senior magisterial district judge for many years.
He was also ordered to pay a fine of $39,000.
Stallone handled the case because Delaware County judges had recused themselves.
The defendants said they installed the cameras to investigate reports that police officers on the overnight shift were sleeping on the job.
Truscello and Zito testified that they asked private investigators who installed the hidden cameras to describe the work as emergency lighting and wiring on official vouchers so that the nature of the investigation would remain a secret. "This case was about power," said Senior Deputy Attorney General John J. Flannery Jr., who added that the two flouted the Pennsylvania Sunshine Act and had no regard for fellow elected or appointed officials.
Former chief Christie testified yesterday that the events devastated morale in the police department. He said the frequent remarks by the public about the videos, often made in jest, became a kind of "harassment."
Christie said Truscello showed very little remorse for what he had done. "We're satisfied," Christie said after the sentence was imposed.
Defense lawyer William Winning read four letters to court from colleagues and friends of Truscello, describing longtime community involvement, including helping to build a library and fund for a girl's club baseball field. He also dressed up as Santa at Christmas. A letter from Truscello's doctor said the former official suffered from "rather significant coronary artery disease," diabetes, and hypertension. The trial was postponed in August after Truscello suffered a heart attack.