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Interview with attorney Michael D.

Hess from Burke & Hess Law firm


Feb. 13, 2019
Reporter: Paula Knudsen
Q: So, I understand that as of last night you represented assistant district attorney Mark
Fetterman?
A: Up through last night, that’s correct.
Q: Today, Feb. 13, you don’t represent him anymore?
A: I do not.
Q: So, in between January of this year, so it would be approximately Jan. 17, through yesterday,
Feb. 12, were you having discussions with people about Mark Fetterman?
A: Yeah, I discussed Mark Fetterman with a lot of people, one of the people was Craig Stedman.
We had probably over 20 phone calls and/or texts during that period of time.
Q: What were they about? The calls and the texts?
A: They were mainly about -- there was a dispute between Craig Stedman Mark Fetterman over
the nature of the interaction with Carolyn Flannery back in 2008 and 2009.
Q: And during all these conversations, was there kind of a theme that you took away from what
Mr. Stedman wanted?
A: The main thing was that Mark Fetterman was being accused of being ordered to stay away
from Carolyn Flannery and that he was ordered to undergo counseling. My position is that he
was not, because he was never ordered by Human Resources, there was never anything in
writing, there was nothing other than, according to Mark, Craig Stedman had called them both in
and said, “I want you both to stay away from each other.”
Apparently, she claims that in 2008 Mark Fetterman had expressed to her that he had more than
just feelings of friendship towards her and that she said “Well I don’t feel that same way about
you,” and that was the end of it. They worked together for several months until 2009 when she
was unhappy with something at work and she is telling Mark that she is going to go address it
with the higher-ups, the supervisors -- Chris Larsen, Craig Stedman.
And Mark being concerned that she’s going to do this sends her an email, that says something to
the effect “I care about you and wouldn’t want you to do that. I wouldn’t want you to lose you as
a friend and colleague and you have to be careful what you do.” She has equated that with the
statement from many months before that that’s a threat he’s making towards her work -- if she
doesn’t engage in a romantic relationship.
However, Mark says that is not what happened. And Craig Stedman has told me his that his
conclusion was, that is not what happened, that he agreed with Mark Fetterman’s story.
However, in the course of our conversation he said “But I think Mark is being dishonest because
I told, at one time, he told me he told them both, and then another time he said “I was speaking
mainly to Mark,” but I told them “Hey, you two just avoid each other, which they did and they
worked together for another two years. Craig Stedman also said that he told Mark at one point he
that he remembers telling him ‘if you’re having trouble with in your marriage, you should seek
marriage counseling.’ Mark Fetterman says I don’t remember him ever saying anything like that,
but those are the claims going.
Every time Mark would leap to that defense and say “here’s what really happened,” Craig would,
I’d call it threatening, tell him “You can’t say that, I may or may not have a secret file on you, so
you can’t say this at all.”
Q: So, you talked to Mr. Stedman multiple times about what your then-client said happened and
what Mr. Stedman’s assertion was?
A: Over many conversations, the same theme would carry through, and I’d say, “this is our
position, that it didn’t happen and it was taken out of context.” And that there were no orders as
people have said there were.
Q: And was he satisfied?
A: At times he seemed like he was satisfied, but then I’d get a call in a day or two later and he
wasn’t satisfied with that,
Q: Did he ever say he was going to do anything to Mr. Fetterman?
A: There were several times that he said “If Mark doesn’t admit my version of the story, then I
question his veracity as an employee here at the DA’s office, and I’m going to have to fire him.”
So he was putting a lot of pressure on Mark. “You can’t say this, you can’t talk about that. You
can’t say that because you can’t make Karen look bad.” He was especially adamant, that don’t
tell anybody Karen’s husband had this drug record.
Q: Do you mean Karen Mansfield, the other candidate?
A: Yes, Karen Mansfield.
Q: You’ve had these multiple conversations beginning in mid-January and then continuing
through Feb. 12, is that right?
A: Correct. There was many times, again a recurring them, was he said “I have a “resign to run
policy”, that you cannot run for any office without resigning from this office, unless I give you
permission to do so. And I told both Karen Mansfield and Mark Fetterman you can do that as
long as you don’t make this office look bad or as long as you don’t cast aspersions upon one
another.
Q: Did he ever address his own ability to run for office under that policy?
A: No, he didn’t address that or Andy Spade.
Q: At some point, your then-client Mr. Fetterman, was disciplined?
A: Yes. On, I want to say, Wed. Jan. 30, I was conducting the sheriff’s sales. I started getting
texts that Mr. Fetterman had been suspended. Then I got a text around 3:30 p.m. from Craig
Stedman that said “I really need to talk to you,” - meaning me. After the sales were over, it was
almost 5 o’clock ‘til I talked to him, and he said, “Well, things went kind of bad today, there was
a situation. I called Mark in. I need him to speak up and be honest, because I don’t think that the
letter that I (Hess) wrote was honest.
And I said, “We’ve gone over this many times. Our position is there was no official order, and he
was never officially directed, anything you might have said, like ‘stay away from each other’
was more of an employment directive, recommendation, something would happen in the future if
they didn’t avoid each. But he had called Mark in his office and asked him, “I want you to admit
to this” and Mark said “No, I won’t admit to it, that’s my position.”
Q: By the “this,” is it your understanding is that Mr. Stedman meant his version of the events
with Flannery?
A: Yes, his version. I want you to agree to my version and then I want you to tell everybody that
you were ordered to stay away from her and that you were ordered to go to counseling. And
Mark said, “I can’t do that, that didn’t happen, no.” And then Mr. Stedman told Mark that he was
suspended with pay, and asked him to turn in his key card, and said “get out of my office.” And
so Mark left. When I talked to him later in the day, Craig said, “Well, I’ll reverse this if he will
agree with my version of the story.” I said, “He’s not going to do that. It’s not what happened.”
He said, “Well, if he doesn’t do it, and do it soon, he’s going to be fired.”
I had a conversation with Mr. Fetterman and told him “you need to go in and let human
resources know that this was politically motivated. I had also brought up the political motivation
with Mr. Stedman and said, “You can’t do this. You’re using your office for political reasons.
You’re trying to influence this race.”
Q: Which race, the district attorney race, or the judicial race?
A: No, the district attorney race. We didn’t have any conversation at that point about his race.
He said at that time, he’s said it a couple of times since “I’m allowed to discipline anybody for
whatever reason I want, including political reasons. He cited a case from Montgomery County he
said stood for that proposition. And he pointed out that DA down in Philadelphia. Is it Krasner?
Q: Mr. Hess, I want to fast-forward you to Feb. 12, which would have been yesterday. Did you
have a conversation with Mr. Stedman?
A: I did. At 1:18 he had contacted me and was upset about the article that had come out and he
wanted to talk to me about it. I told him I hadn’t read it but I would get back to him. So I called
him back, I'm going to guess it was somewhere around maybe 3, 3:30 in the afternoon yesterday.
He said he was upset about it and I said ‘Well, I don’t know what to tell you the article was all
accurate. There’s nothing inaccurate in it.’And he said ‘Well, it makes me look really, really
bad.’ And I said “Well, you should have thought about that before you suspended Mark
Fetterman over this race.” And he said “Well, I can’t have him saying anything different than I
say.”
He went into his, he went into talking about his “resign to run policy” and he talked about how
he has the power to fire anybody that he wants to even if it is for political reasons. But he then
went into, all of the sudden he brought up Todd Brown, who’s running in the judicial race
against him. And he said “Well, I know you’re tight with Todd Brown,” etcetera, and I said
“yeah.” And he said “Well, why is he still in the race?” And I said “Well, it’s good for the race”
and I thought it was good to have two parties in the race.
And he said “Well, he should drop out.” And I said “Well, I don’t think he should.” And he said
“Well I’m being forced at this point to release information that’s going to make Mark Fetterman
look really, really bad unless Todd Brown drops out of the race.” And I said “Well, there’s no
way I would do that.” And I further said “And I don’t have the power to do that even if I was
willing to do it.” And he said “Well, you better think it over and get back to me quickly with
your plan to resolve this or information will go out.”
Q: And what did you, was that the end of the conversation?
A: That was pretty much the end of the conversation, yeah.
Q: What did you take it to mean when he told you you had to resolve it?
A: It was clear to me that he thought I should get on the phone and talk Todd Brown into
dropping out of the race. He felt that because of my relationship with him I was the person that
would be able to talk to Todd and say “Hey why don’t you drop this?” And so he was, it was
very clear to me he was offering to not put out information on Mark Fetterman if I got Todd
Brown to drop out of the race.
Q: But did you do that?
A: No
Q: Why not?
A: No, it’s illegal. I wouldn’t do that. That’s not the way the system is built.
Q; So why are you coming forward to the newspaper with this information?
A: I’m coming forward because I’m so disturbed at this act. Weeks ago, beginning of January if
you had asked me, I would have I would have said we have two very strong candidates in the
Republican party, either of which would make a good judge. But in the time that I’ve been
dealing with Craig Stedman over this Fetterman matter, which is relatively minor, it's just his
reaction in regards to it, his threats against Mark Fetterman regarding his job. It is incredibly bad
and he should not be a judge.
Q: Is there anything else that you wanted to say?
A: Not that I can think of at this time.
Q: Well, thank you for --
A: I told you about the, Mr. Larsen showing up at the straw poll, or the area chairs’ meeting last
night, but
Q: But you weren’t there?
A: I was not there.
Q: But did you call, did you have contact with Mr. Stedman after that?
A: I did and I talked to him and I said “I can’t believe you would have do that” and he said
“You didn’t do anything to resolve the problem” to me he was referring to I didn’t do anything
or was unwilling to do anything about Todd Brown. And he claimed that he didn’t know Chris
Larsen was going in, he claimed that he doesn’t know where Chris Larsen’s file, he said “maybe
he keeps his own private personnel files I don’t know.” And he said “It’s not my file because I
brought my file with me to Pittsburgh.” Which I found a little odd that he has a personnel file
from 2009 in Pittsburgh with him.
Q: Did he clarify what that meant?
A: No. No, he just said, he just kept saying “you’ll have to talk to Chris Larsen, I don’t know
anything about anything.”
Q: And so today by Feb. 13 you haven’t spoken to him since?
A: No.