D.A. Charlton & Conviction Integrity Unit Delay Justice
Armstrong County, PA – Bad Pennsylvania State Police Officers absolutely exist. It is a painful fact. Every state police officer’s interaction in PA should be viewed with skepticism, not because some officers are bad but because you can’t trust that the one you are dealing with isn’t one of the bad apples. Lisa Bair has learned this lesson well. Not only has she seen the bad side of law enforcement, but she has been, up to now, abused and cast aside by the entire justice system – she was convicted of filing false police reports even though the evidence regarding her claims were valid. Only now because of Bair’s involvement with the US~Observer does Armstrong County District Attorney (D.A.) Katie Charlton and the new Pennsylvania Conviction Integrity Unit have a chance at making things right.
A Portion of Bair’s Corroboration
On a recent trip to Pittsburgh, we spoke with Richard Myers, another victim of the Pennsylvania State Police. This victim was reportedly “tortured with every means possible” by a group of troopers from the Kittanning, PA barracks. Some of the civil rights violations Myers suffered were repeated false arrests, excessive force and false criminal charges reportedly manufactured by Troopers Brian Shaffer and Brian Wolfe, and other officers who assisted. Trooper Shaffer was having an affair with Myer’s wife (a reported relative of Brian Wolfe), and according to witnesses, Shaffer set out to destroy Myers.
Myer’s false charges were finally dismissed, but the whole ordeal ended up costing him over $100,000.00. Myers subsequently filed a federal civil rights lawsuit against Shaffer, Wolfe and ten other troopers involved in the years-long retaliation and abuse, only to have corrupt Federal Judge Terrence “Terry” McVerry inform his attorney that they were not going to sue these officers in his courtroom. The officers agreed to leave Myers alone and the suit was dismissed. Prior to obtaining his judgeship, McVerry was a former state legislator who is now deceased (Sept 16, 1943 – March 8, 2021). Trooper Shaffer not only ended up living with Myers’ wife, he acquired Myers’ home on the river as well.
The US~Observer has recently located two other victims of the Pennsylvania State Police and will be interviewing them soon.
The False Prosecution of Lisa Bair
At the same time Richard Myers was being victimized by the Kittanning troopers, so too was Lisa Bair, a Buffalo Township resident. Numerous officers named in Richard Myers federal civil rights lawsuit were also involved in retaliation against Lisa Bair. As with the Myers case, false charges were manufactured against Lisa, with Troopers Brian Wolfe and Craig Chodkowski being the two main perpetrators.
The retaliation against Lisa began prior to the victimization of Myers. When the Myers case threatened to expose the troopers, they allegedly unleashed a “living hell” on Lisa, in part, to destroy her credibility. False charges by the troopers and a wrongful conviction followed – all of which reportedly began with Brian Wolfe.
In 1995, Lisa enrolled her son in a karate school for kids located in Natrona Heights, PA. In doing so, she would cross paths with Brian Wolfe – whose life was rife with instability – for the first time. “Little did I know,” she says, “that I would become targeted by Wolfe, corrupt law enforcement and some of my own family members.” What Lisa wasn’t aware of at the time was that Wolfe – the instructor, had a family member who married Lisa’s uncle just 22 months prior – the two reportedly harbored a grudge against Lisa. According to Lisa, the grudge resulted over an affair Wolfe’s relative allegedly had with Lisa’s married uncle. Brian Wolfe reportedly enlisted the help of a trooper named Omer Shankle to retaliate against her.
Over the two-year period that Lisa’s son was a member of the school, Trooper Shankle’s alleged actions would further involve other troopers – Bradley Smail, Anthony Aulicino and Joseph Brown (that she can name), and then-Brackenridge Borough Officer Craig Chodkowski of the town she resided in at the time. Aulicino reportedly had many relatives well known to Lisa through a local fire department. The officers involved were all previously connected, and their families had connections to Lisa’s husband and family, and some to former friends of Lisa through the high school that she and the officers attended. Lisa began finding that people were turned against her with no explanation. Brian Wolfe and the troopers/officers “had an axe-to-grind” and according to Lisa, “they set out to destroy me and my marriage.” According to one witness, “though it took much longer than they planned, they would brutally succeed.”
After leaving the karate school in August 1997 and having no clue about the connection between Wolfe and her family, Lisa was subjected to harassment by police and her family members connected to Wolfe. According to Lisa, “my family members made false and outrageous accusations that I believe they were convinced of by Wolfe and the other officers.”
Years of problems followed.
“Trooper Wolfe and Others Attack”
Beginning in June of 2006, Wolfe – then a state trooper, reportedly moved into a home in direct view of Lisa’s home in a housing plan next to her’s in Buffalo Township, followed by at least three other troopers – Steve Liston, Tim Amy and Michael Kapustik (all of whom would allegedly assist Troopers Wolfe and Chodkowski).
Lisa claims that in 2007, Wolfe began a campaign to follow her. He would show up at places she frequented, where he would slowly drive by or circle in his vehicle – most often in the town where the former karate school was located. After this had been going on for some time, the troopers allegedly had a husband-and-wife couple by the name of Helgert, appear at Lisa’s home during a party to befriend her for the purpose of a set-up. Lisa had no idea who they were, having never met or heard of them before in her life. The female set out immediately to attempt to gain Lisa’s trust. Lisa would also discover that while the Helgerts were acting “like friends,” to her, they were “spreading lies and false information to other people” known to Lisa. This went on for 5-6 months when they abruptly “disappeared.” The “disappearance” Lisa now knows was the result of multiple civil rights violations of Richard Myers, including a huge incident at a local Walmart parking lot involving the troopers in a retaliation attack over Trooper Shaffer’s affair with Myers’ wife (Wolfe’s reported relative.) The incident involved upwards of 15 police vehicles and troopers surrounding Myers as well as his subsequent false arrest, excessive force, false imprisonment, etc. The troopers reportedly had their guns drawn on Myers, resulting in Walmart patrons frantically running away from the scene.
Lisa states, “I then encountered harassment by troopers and local police officers circling by my home and at times, police would be seen sitting parked in front of my home. This was followed by an extremely aggressive episode by Wolfe in which he pulled out behind me, catching up to me at a high rate of speed, then riding my bumper for a significant distance. I was very concerned by it.”
The alleged harassment then evolved to include some friends of the troopers including the Helgerts who “disappeared” for a while, and her family members tied to Wolfe. She also incurred repeated vandalization of her vehicle among many other problems that will be reported on later.
After two months of the hellish ordeal, Lisa contacted the police. She was told to speak to Trooper Craig Chodkowski, having absolutely no clue who Chodkowski really was at the time. According to Lisa, if she had known who Chodkowski was, she would have known that a framing was underway. Multiple attempts to get relief went nowhere and to her utter shock and disbelief she was charged by Chodkowski with “false reports.” Trooper Chodkowski’s alleged false charges were reportedly approved by then Lieutenant Thomas Dubovi (named in Myers’ federal civil rights lawsuit) and Captain Scott Neal. Chodkowski used a recorder to tape her statements – statements that Lisa freely gave for over an hour. Sadly, according to Lisa, the harassment by the troopers, Helgerts and others tied to the troopers continued, and on top of it all she was being falsely prosecuted.
Proving in part, the validity of Lisa’s claims is the fact that there was never an “officially written police report.”
Further, Lisa’s “recorded statement” to Trooper Chodkowski was conveniently faulty. Trooper Chodkowski claimed to have made a mistake – his recorder “didn’t record properly.” This allowed Trooper Chodkowski, at trial, to provide “his own account” of what was stated by Lisa. According to one witness, “the unverifiable and false testimony of Trooper Chodkowski was used against Lisa and the jury believed his false testimony.”
On March 9, 2010, Lisa was convicted of filing a false police report– based SOLELY on the “testimony” of Troopers Brian Wolfe, Craig Chodkowsk and Samuel Vicari, a third trooper allegedly involved in the harassment. Vicari, along with Wolfe, were named in the federal civil rights lawsuit filed by Richard Myers the year following Lisa Bair’s trial.
According to documents received after trial, juror misconduct/bias by multiple jurors was discovered. Reportedly, the most egregious of all being the jury foreman – Ricky VanHorn. VanHorn allegedly concealed significant material information from the court during jury selection (voire dire) that should have excluded him as a juror had he been truthful. According to documents obtained, one of the many significant pieces of information withheld was that the Jury Foreman, Ricky Vanhorn, was a relative of Trooper Eric Maurer, one of the troopers directly involved in the case against Lisa.
Lisa also says she experienced ineffective assistance of counsel. She continued, “Jeffrey Miller (her attorney), failed to provide a proper defense. Miller would not investigate any of my claims – including photos in my possession. Nor did he conduct any investigation into the credibility and background of the troopers involved.” Miller failed to call a witness with information regarding Trooper Brian Wolfe and the female Helgert, who Wolfe and the troopers used as a set-up against her, according to Lisa. Miller also failed to challenge the “malfunctioning” of Lisa’s recorded statements, and lack of evidence. The list goes on and on. Lisa concluded, “Miller’s ‘representation’ was a complete failure.”
Continued Government Harassment
On top of the wrongful conviction, Lisa says her family “was destroyed by these rogue officers.” They reportedly continued their harassment against Lisa, causing as much damage to her as possible, while intimidating Lisa as she fought to obtain evidence to prove her innocence.
She has endured complete financial destruction, along with severe social and reputation damage and mental anguish. She was “prevented from obtaining any shared custody of her children”, suffered harassment while trying to further her education at a community college located near the troopers’ headquarters, and subjected to intimidation by other law enforcement officers. Continuous allegedly intentional harassment by police, the troopers and their friends made Lisa fear for her safety, forcing her to give up many activities she used to participate in, all of which resulted in damage to her heath.
Lisa’s life now consists of carrying cameras and video recording devices with her. No one should have to live like that because of “out-of-control law enforcement.”
Several years after the wrongful conviction, Lisa attempted to repair the damage done to her family while she continued to seek justice. After moving back into her marital residence, Lisa claims that there have been further attempts to destroy her life by relatives and friends of Wolfe, Chodkowski and the troopers. She went on to say, “they don’t plan to stop their assault against me until they are legally stopped.”
Conflict of Interest
Retired Trooper Brian Wolfe now works for the local Prosecutor, Katie Charlton.
The crime which Lisa was convicted of is only a misdemeanor, but to her, it is significant, damaging, and life altering. She had never been arrested or convicted of any crimes in her life, except for this. Further, “it is a false conviction.”
The US~Observer’s investigation into Lisa’s case determined, without doubt, that her conviction should be vacated. There should also be further investigation into the conduct of the police officers involved. The proof of juror misconduct alone could be used to vacate her conviction. That would be the fastest remedy for her wrongful conviction.
Further, the District Attorney who was in office when Lisa was falsely convicted, Scott Andreassi, is now an attorney with the law firm of D.A. Katie Charlton’s husband.
Andreassi was sued in 2016 by the ACLU of Pennsylvania for malicious prosecution and a pattern/practice of First Amendment retaliation. Andreassi then lost his bid for Armstrong County Judge in 2017 – the year D.A. Charlton was elected.
The US~Observer wrote a letter to D.A. Katie Charlton which was received by her office on March 3, 2020. Due to the conflict within her office as former State Trooper Brian Wolfe now works there, D.A. Charlton forwarded the US~Observer letter, including the evidence we shared, to Pennsylvania’s new Conviction Integrity Unit (CIU) on March 24, 2020. D.A. Charlton also included the US~Observer in her communications with Chief Deputy Lazzari-Strasiser with the PA Office of Attorney General – Conviction Integrity Unit (CIU).
The US~Observer wrote a follow-up letter to Chief Deputy Lazzari-Strasiser offering our assistance with the review of Lisa’s case. Our letter dated May 6, 2020 has yet to be answered.
By now, one must wonder; is Pennsylvania’s CIU even operational? Was the CIU created to give false hope for criminal justice reform advocates?
The US~Observer will be continuing this investigation and providing updated reports on Lisa’s wrongful conviction as more evidence is uncovered.
Investigators from the US~Observer have traveled to Pennsylvania twice to investigate Lisa Bair’s case. During the investigation, several people were interviewed, and many documents were obtained – some of which confirm Bair’s story. It is the opinion of the US~Observer that Lisa Bair was wrongfully convicted – it would be wise for D.A. Charlton to step out from behind the excuse of “conflict of interest” and vacate Lisa Bair’s false criminal conviction in the interest of justice. The alternative is simple, the US~Observer will continue to dig and share it’s findings with the good people of Pennsylvania.
Editor’s Note: If you, or anyone you know have experienced a false conviction in Pennsylvania, please contact the US~Observer at 541-474-7885 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. We may be able to help.
Also, anyone with information of wrongdoing on the part of anyone named in this article or anyone associated with those named should contact the US~Observer immediately.