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Search for Pa. lawyer continues

November 20, 1998|By DON AINES

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - There are no indications of foul play or abduction in the disappearance of a Waynesboro, Pa., attorney, Franklin County District Attorney John F. Nelson said Thursday.

"We have no active part in the investigation," Nelson said of the search for attorney Todd A. Dorsett and Jacob Gideon Schaff V.

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Nelson did, however, hold discussions with Pennsylvania State Police and meet with Franklin County Commissioners regarding Dorsett's contract as a conflict attorney.

"His contract has been terminated for failure to perform his duties," County Solicitor Welton Fischer said after the meeting.

Dorsett, 38, of 128 W. Main St., is charged with hindering the apprehension of a fugitive. Jacob Gideon Schaff V, 26, whose address in a 1996 drunken driving case was the same as Dorsett's, is wanted for violating parole.

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According to the affidavit of probable cause, the Pennsylvania Bureau of Probation and Parole issued a warrant for Schaff's arrest on Aug. 25, 1997. He was still wanted on Thursday, Nov. 12, when the affidavit was filed with District Justice Shirley Shatzer's office in Greencastle, Pa.

On Dec. 17, 1997, a bench warrant was issued by Franklin County Judge William H. Kaye when Schaff failed to show up for a hearing.

Dorsett was interviewed by Trooper Daren Hockenberry at the courthouse on April 29. The affidavit alleged Dorsett knew Schaff was wanted by both state parole officials and the county.

On Nov. 12, Trooper Anthony Manetta spoke to Camille Russo, Dorsett's secretary. She told police that on Nov. 9, she was at Dorsett's home and saw him with Schaff in the kitchen, according to allegations in the affidavit.

"It's time for him to go. I have to drop him off somewhere," Dorsett told Russo, the affidavit said.

The affidavit said Russo saw Schaff at the house several times in the last month.

The affidavit said Russo occasionally cleaned Dorsett's house and alleged she once saw a gun under his bed. She told police she and Dorsett's sister looked through the house last Thursday and the gun was missing, the affidavit said.

A family member indicated Thursday that Russo did not want to be questioned by reporters.

Schaff has been charged at various times over five years with offenses including burglary, theft, receiving stolen property, terroristic threats, criminal mischief, disorderly conduct, fictitious reports and driving under the influence, according to the Clerk of Courts Office.

According to records in the Prothonotary's Office, a protection from abuse order was issued against Schaff in 1994. The woman who filed the petition alleged that there were three occasions when he assaulted her, including one in 1993 when she was five months pregnant with their child.

In November 1992, she alleged in the petition, "He shoved me in the gutter" and broke her wrist.

On Thursday, Waynesboro attorney William S. Dick filed a complaint for judgment on behalf of a Waynesboro woman with the prothonotary's office. The complaint said Dorsett signed a promissory note with the woman on April 17.

The complaint alleged that Dorsett borrowed $30,000 from Margaret S. Hess, promising to pay 6 1/2 percent interest a year. The complaint alleged that Dorsett had missed a Nov. 17 payment and owed $28,458.43 in principal and interest.

Dick said the complaint is basically a demand for payment that places a lien against any real estate Dorsett owns.

"I'm baffled by it," Dick said of Dorsett's disappearance.

"There's always a concern, first of all, for his safety," Dick said. At the same time, if Dorsett shows up in a few days, "There's going to be a lot of explaining to do."

A United Way of Franklin County official said Wednesday that Dorsett last year was supposed to have distributed money to it and other charities from an estate he administered. The United Way never received its share, which was in excess of $20,000, the official alleged.

There was also a telephone inquiry at the prothonotary's office this week about an estate distribution ordered in February. Courthouse documents said the amount to be distributed was $34,700, including Dorsett's fees.

As of Thursday, no other criminal or civil charges had been filed against Dorsett.

His conflict attorney contract was terminated because he failed to appear to represent at least nine court-appointed clients since Nov. 10.

Nelson said his office had not heard from Dorsett since Nov. 9 "when he called in and said he was sick."

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