Judge rejects ex-automobile manager Erie’s request to seal release petition
Former Erie car dealership Adam J. Weaver will have to make public his reasons for wanting his supervised release term to end when his fraud case begins.
A federal judge has rejected Weaver’s unusual request to seal a motion as to why he wants his three-year term of supervised release, similar to probation, to end before his sentence expires in September.
U.S. Senior District Judge David S. Cercone, sitting in Pittsburgh, ruled against Weaver’s claim on Monday, resulting in the cancellation of a hearing on the claim that had been scheduled for Tuesday.
As the Erie Times-News first reported, senior U.S. deputy attorney at Erie Christian Trabold opposed Weaver’s request, citing long-standing law that procedures and court documents are generally open to the public.
The city’s loan poses a problem: Federal authorities cite possible prosecution of Weaver over city loan in fight against sealed motion in fraud case
Trabold also said that Weaver’s request for early release involved the possibility that he would seek a loan from the Town of Erie for some sort of business venture he would pursue once his watch term ends. Trabold has access to the motion Weaver wanted to seal, and Trabold made limited reference to its content in his response to Weaver’s request.
In a one-page order, Cercone said he agreed with Trabold that Weaver’s motion should not be sealed.
“As the government has well noted, the defendant has not dismissed the presumption created by the common law right of access which attaches to court documents,” Cercone said in the order. He said the presumption of openness “is further reinforced here given the potential involvement of local government entities and the use of an” Erie City Economic Development Loan “,” citing the response from Trabold.
Weaver’s attorneys Efrem Grail and Brian Bevan of Pittsburgh failed to file the unsealed petition as of Tuesday morning. Once this request is filed, Cercone will review Weaver’s request for early release. The defense could also choose not to file the motion and drop Weaver’s claim.
By unsuccessfully requesting that the petition be sealed, Weaver’s attorneys argued in a filing that Cercone should keep the contents of the petition secret to protect “confidential, sensitive and proprietary financial information about third parties,” apparently referring to those that might be part of Weaver’s plans. .
Weaver pleaded guilty in 2017 to one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud as part of a scheme that worked in 2015 and 2016. The scheme involved Rick Weaver Buick GMC, the family business he had been president. The dealership remains open on West 12th and Liberty streets. Weaver in April 2018 was sentenced to four months in prison, serving her on minimum security Federal Correctional Institution in Morgantown, West Virginia.
Weaver, who was 41 and lived in Fairview when sentenced, was released from prison in September 2018 but still had to serve the remainder of his sentence – three years on probation.
The supervised release period is expected to end at the end of September, according to court records.
Weaver was indicted in September 2016. The government accused him and two co-defendants of fraudulently generating profits by inflating the price of vehicles through the use of straw buyers who paid for the vehicles with bank loans. Straw buyers defaulted on the loans, leaving lenders unable to recoup the cost of the loans.
Weaver’s guilty plea forced him to quit his leadership role at the Weaver dealership, which is still in family control. He had to resign as chairman and sell his stake in the company when he pleaded guilty because GMC prohibits a criminal from owning a dealership, a Weaver dealership lawyer said at the time.