Dorsett court appearance set for Tuesday

April 25, 2000|By DON AINES

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - A former Franklin County attorney will appear before a Columbia County, Pa., judge Thursday on charges he harbored a fugitive and stole money from clients.

Todd A. Dorsett, 40, of Waynesboro, Pa., is scheduled to appear before Senior Judge Jay W. Myers on four counts of theft by failure to make required disposition of funds and hindering apprehension. In March, Myers had ordered Dorsett to decide by April 24 whether he wanted his case to go to trial or enter a plea agreement.

"We don't have a plea agreement yet," Dorsett's attorney, Gregory Lensbower, said Tuesday. Dorsett could "enter a plea or ask for a trial" Thursday, Lensbower said.

"Whatever happens that day may resolve the case or not," he said.

A spokesman for the Pennsylvania Attorney General's Office said Monday it is against department policy to discuss plea agreements until they are approved in court.


If Dorsett pleads innocent, jury selection could be held May 8 in Franklin County, according to Myers' March court order.

In November 1998, Pennsylvania State Police charged Dorsett with hindering the apprehension of Jacob V. Schaff V of Waynesboro, a former client. Schaff was wanted for a state parole violation and on a county bench warrant for failing to appear at a support hearing, according to court records.

Dorsett and Schaff both disappeared from Dorsett's home on Nov. 9. A month later police took Dorsett into custody at a motel in Troy, Ohio. Schaff remains at large.

In October 1999, state police charged Dorsett with stealing $192,000 from several clients, according to court records.

Because Dorsett once had a contract with the county to represent indigent criminal defendants, Franklin County District Attorney John F. Nelson asked the Attorney General's Office to handle the prosecution to avoid any possible appearance of conflict of interest.

Myers was appointed by the state to hear the case because Dorsett had practiced in front of the county's Court of Common Pleas judges, according to court records.

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