One of the attorneys who was representing homicide defendant Sean Kratz in what is among region’s most high-profile cases admitted to leaking audio recordings of confessions that are key pieces of evidence.
In a letter released by the Bucks County District Attorney’s Office, defense attorney Craig Penglase admitted to leaking the tapes of recorded confessions made to the Bucks County Detectives last summer relating to homicides of Dean Finocchiaro, 19, of Middletown; Thomas Meo, 21, of Plumstead Township; and Mark Sturgis, 22, of Pennsburg, Montgomery County; and Jimi Patrick, 19, of Newtown Township.
“It has come to my understanding that a question has been raised concerning who made public the audio interviews of Cosmo Dinardo and Sean Kratz. Please allow this letter to confirm that I am the individual who made those recordings public,” Penglase wrote to the district attorney’s office.
NBC 10 and Fox 29 did not publish or air full copies of the confession tapes.
The release of the recordings caused ripples in the Justice Center last week with attorneys, victims’ families, and trial-watchers rumoring about who leaked the tapes.
From the start, the Bucks County District Attorney’s Office denied that they released the confessions.
“We explained that while our office is obligated by the rules of discovery to turn such material over to defense counsel, we as prosecutors are ethically bound to not disclose such material to the general public, so that the integrity of the ongoing litigation is protected,” prosecutors said in a statement Tuesday.
The district attorney’s office said releasing a statement to the media and a copy of Penglase’s letter should “eliminate any further baseless accusations about our role in this incident.”
The Doylestown Intelligencer reported Monday that Penglase was ordered off Kratz’s defense team due to an unspecified “potential conflict of interest.” Attorney Niels Eriksen remains on the case and will be joined by Keith Williams.
“I was completely unaware of the actions of my co-counsel. I had no part in, and no knowledge of, their release. I remain committed, with the confidence of the court, to defending Sean Kratz,” Eriksen told LevittownNow.com Tuesday evening.
In a stunning move last Wednesday, Kratz, 21, of Philadelphia turned down a plea deal that would have had him imprisoned for 59 to 118 years. After 59 years, the now-21-year-old defendant could have been eligible for parole.
Turning down the deal threw the case for a twist after prosecutors had worked with Kratz, Eriksen, and Penglase for more than two weeks to strike a plea that both sides felt was fair.
The confession tapes are expected to play a role in Kratz’s trial. No date has been set, but the trial is expected to happen next year.
DiNardo, 21, of Doylestown, pleaded guilty last Wednesday for his role in the slayings of the four young men in Solebury.