West Caln supervisor to resign from his position

Posted: May 26, 2006

A West Caln supervisor facing a court challenge over his authority to hold public office has decided he can best serve his constituents by stepping down, his attorney said yesterday.

C. Curt Norcini, who represents Robert T. Stewart, said a formal resignation letter would be submitted Tuesday.

"I think this is a resolution that's in everyone's best interest," said Norcini, adding that Stewart had no interest in costing taxpayers money for protracted litigation.

On May 9, Chester County District Attorney Joseph W. Carroll filed a quo warranto action, which stated that a 1992 bribery conviction made Stewart ineligible to serve as a supervisor.

According to court records, Stewart, who runs Wagontown Construction, entered a no-contest plea in 1992 to accepting kickbacks from the former executive of the City of Coatesville Authority in exchange for construction contracts.

Carroll said yesterday he was pleased to hear that Stewart had opted to step down.

"I think that's the best way to resolve this," Carroll said.

Under court rules, Stewart had a Tuesday deadline to respond to Carroll's filing.

Norcini called Stewart's resignation "a sad loss" for the township.

"Despite what he did 14 years ago, he's not the same individual anymore," Norcini said. "He's a savvy, conscientious businessman who had the township's best interests at heart."

Questions about Stewart's past have escalated tensions among the township's three Republican supervisors, particularly regarding police coverage.

At a May 8 meeting, Stewart joined Supervisors Vice Chairman Joseph P. Hess in voting to remove two of the township's part-time police officers, Matthew J. Paris and Raymond C. Stevenson.

Hess, a longtime proponent of revamping the department, said the officers, who both work full time for West Chester University, had failed to work the required 20 hours a week.

Opponents of the vote included Supervisors Chairman Paul E. Pfitzenmeyer, a former officer who worked for 25 years with Chief Barry L. Bicking, and the terminated officers.

Paris and Stevenson, whose university supervisor is Michael Bicking, the West Caln chief's son, have hired lawyer Daniel Bush in an effort to get reinstated.

According to court records, Paris and Stewart, whose former wife is married to Chief Bicking, tangled in May 2002. Paris responded to a fire on Stewart's West Kings Highway property and said he had to jump out of the way as Stewart steered his front-end loader toward him, the criminal complaint said. Stewart pleaded no contest to obstructing law enforcement.

Norcini said Stewart would continue to work for the betterment of the township.

"I think he had the pulse of the township and the business qualifications to make a positive difference," Norcini said. "I know he's going to remain active."

Contact staff writer Kathleen Brady Shea at 610-701-7625 or kbrady@phillynews.com.

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