Former Pennsylvania LCB chairman in ethics probe maintains he did no wrong

Posted: October 07, 2012

HARRISBURG - The former chairman of the Liquor Control Board is saying through his lawyer that he is cooperating with a state Ethics Commission investigation and that he did not do anything wrong.

The lawyer whom Patrick J. "P.J." Stapleton III has hired is Henry E. Hockeimer Jr., a partner at Ballard Spahr in Philadelphia who specializes in white-collar criminal defense, among other areas.

Stapleton, a onetime LCB chairman, wrote to Gov. Corbett on Thursday to say he would leave his $71,528 position on Friday after 15 years on the board.

Although Stapleton's term was due to end in November, his departure comes as state ethics investigators examine allegations that he and two other top-ranking LCB officials accepted gifts and favors from agency vendors.

Hockeimer said Friday that Stapleton had cooperated with the investigators and would continue to.

"We do not believe he did anything wrong," said Hockeimer, a former federal prosecutor whose clients have ranged from the Lower Merion School District to Philadelphia union leader John J. "Johnny Doc" Dougherty Jr.

"We look forward to a positive resolution."

The ethics inquiry grew out of a confidential report this year by Inspector General Kenya Mann Faulkner's office.

The report, a copy of which The Inquirer obtained, alleged that Stapleton accepted about $1,700 worth of alcohol from an LCB vendor for an event at the Hotel Hershey that he and his ex-wife organized. The report said another LCB vendor lined up a celebrity chef for the event.

The report also said an LCB vendor had arranged golf outings for Stapleton, who chaired the board from 2007 until last year. That included a round with a pro during a tournament last summer at which an employee of the vendor was sent to act as Stapleton's caddie, the report said.

Also identified in the report as having accepted gifts and favors from vendors: LCB chief executive officer Joe Conti and marketing director Jim Short. Neither could be reached for comment Friday.


Contact Angela Couloumbis at 717-787-5934, acouloumbis@phillynews.com, or follow on Twitter @AngelasInk.

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