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Tell Us: Should Larry Stoudt Resign from Nazareth Borough Council?

A Nazareth resident questions the future of a troubled councilman; the answer doesn't arrive in a pretty package with a simple bow.

Five absentee ballots in November 2011 allowed Larry Stoudt to retain his seat on Nazareth Borough Council until 2016. He has served on Council for more than 30 years. 

“I'm going to do the best I can and work for the betterment of the community,” Stoudt told Patch after his competitor, Thomas Heckman, conceded defeat. 

One year and three days later, a Palmer Township district judge ordered Stoudt, who is facing charges of obstructing a state police probe, to stay out of borough Police Department headquarters.

During Council’s Nov. 19 Police Committee meeting, a resident asked about Stoudt’s future as an elected official.

“He’s charged. He hasn’t been adjudicated yet,” explained Dan Chiavaroli, president of Council. “Only the governor can remove him, or he has to resign on his own.”

Should Larry Stoudt Resign from Nazareth Borough Council? Tell us in the comments section below.

According to Act 43 of 2012, which modernized and recodified the Borough Code, “Only the courts have the authority to remove an elected official for conviction of serious crimes under Pennsylvania constitution.” 

The state Department of Community & Economic Development adds, “[The] Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruled in 1995 that the Pennsylvania State Constitution only allows an elected official to be removed from office through impeachment, conviction of a crime, or misbehavior in office.”

Although citizens cannot force a council member to resign, Chiavaroli said they could submit letters asking Stoudt to consider that route.

Stoudt, 74, was charged Oct. 9 with one misdemeanor count of criminal attempt-obstruction of law or government for allegedly trying to interfere with a Pennsylvania State Police undercover investigation. He faces a maximum of two years in prison and $5,000 in fines. 

He waived his right to a preliminary hearing Nov. 21 in front of District Judge Jackie Taschner. He said he plans to apply for the Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition (ARD) program for first-time offenders.

Stoudt allegedly asked Nazareth's police chief to run the driver's license of a suspected liquor enforcement officer, court records say, in an attempt to protect the local American Legion post from undercover, prying eyes. 

According to a police criminal complaint, Stoudt approached police Chief Thomas Trachta with his request at borough Police Department headquarters on May 24, exactly one month after the Pennsylvania State Police Liquor Enforcement Office executed a search warrant on the Nazareth Jacksonian Club.

Stoudt told Taschner that as chairman of council's Public Property Committee, he is permitted to enter the police department. But, he noted, other committee members can handle his duties when the police department is involved.

As part of his bail conditions, Taschner ordered Stoudt to not enter borough Police Department headquarters. 

During last week’s Police Committee meeting, Chiavaroli noted -- when prompted -- that Stoudt’s legal fees are not being paid for by taxpayer money.

Stoudt isn’t the only Lehigh Valley councilman in the headlines for something unflattering.

  • Teen Alburtis Councilman Kyle Avery Bower was jailed Oct. 15 after allegedly tearing up a soybean field by driving through it - and violating probation in the process. He's also charged with stealing political signs. A few days after his arrest, according to a story in The Morning Call, Bower resigned his seat on Alburtis Council.
  • Macungie Councilman Linn Walker apologized in Lehigh County Court as he pleaded guilty to repeatedly urinating outdoors and in front of young children. That incident occurred in early August. Walker said he would resign from Macungie Council, but recanted after he said he was told by other council members he did not have to resign.

Nazareth Borough Council will hold a workshop at 7 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 29. The monthly business meeting will be held on Monday, Dec. 3.

rick troxell November 28, 2012 at 07:38 PM
Everyone is going to have an opinion on this. Please don't make this the only focus you have. Mr.Stoudt will get what he deserves be it now or in his future. Keep your energy directed towards what direction this Borough is headed. Hopefully not this sort of arrogance any longer. Show your support for Nazareth and attend the workshop and council meeting. Hear first hand what direction our Borough gov't feels is best and voice opinion both in mtg and in public. They may be the elected officials but are they the true voice of the taxpayers? The people of this Borough have obviously been complacent for a long time and allowed the Gov't to do the same. All council commisions and council mtgs are posted on the Nazareth Borough website under calendar. As are your council representatives phone numbers and terms. Get involved. You may not always like what you hear but at least ou can say you are involved and care.
Grossy November 28, 2012 at 11:54 PM
30 years as a councilman and you want his resignation but not his position. You must have voted for Tom Heckman. Let him alone, who did he harm? The Legion, Nazareth, the police... I think not. I'm glad he took a stance to check this person out. With a last name like Harhai ( not a common name in the Barony of the Rose) Larry took the bull by the horns and asked the chief to check it out. He refused. No harm, no foul. If anything, he has already been slapped on the wrist and told not to do it again. Get over it.
Kaos8 November 29, 2012 at 03:40 AM
Who does this guy have dirt on that he still has a job? Many people in political jobs (not necessarily elected) in this county, yes, including Nazareth, have lost their jobs for less than this. This guy admitted to doing this, but apparently, does not see that it was wrong? How bad is it in Nazareth, that some of you think it is OK for him to be in a leadership position in your town? In the last couple of years I have seen a lot of things in Nazareth head in a downward spiral. It seems that everyone wants to complain, but apparently, still vote for this guy?
Kaos8 November 29, 2012 at 03:48 AM
If a Judge tells him to stay out of the police headquarters, chances are he should not be on the town council. This was not a personal matter, where he just did not get along with someone, this was a legal situation, where he stuck his nose where it did not belong. It was not even originally a local police matter, it is a Liquor Control Board and State Police matter, which is even bigger yet. How is it people are not getting the bigger picture, it is more than just a local problem now. Wrong is wrong, no matter how you look at it- it should not matter who it is. I do not live in Nazareth limits, but if I did, you can bet, I would be at meetings and rallying all of my neighbors to do the same.
Jeepers63 November 29, 2012 at 08:38 PM
Agree.

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