Jury concludes couple committed forgery through effort to dupe voters
By Kathleen Brady Shea, Managing Editor, The Times
A Chester County Court jury found a West Chester couple guilty of conspiracy and forgery charges Thursday in a case stemming from a vitriolic, anonymous campaign letter sent before the 2011 spring primary election.
After less than eight minutes of deliberations, a jury found Donald Skomsky, 59, and his wife, Valerie Palfy, 48, both of East Bradford Township, each guilty of two counts of forgery and one count of conspiracy. Skomsky was also convicted of unsworn falsification and campaign violations. They will be sentenced at a later date by Judge William P. Mahon.
“At this point, I would just like to say that my clients are disappointed by the outcome, but they respect the decision of the jury,” said their attorney, Joseph Silvestro.
Assistant District Attorney Max O’Keefe had argued that an abundance of circumstantial evidence would link the couple to two mailings that went out to residents in the district served by Magisterial District Judge Rita A. Arnold, which includes Birmingham Township.
The letters said Arnold, who was being challenged by Skomsky in the primary, was under scrutiny from the Judicial Conduct Board for inappropriate action in a case involving her son — more than nine months before a formal complaint was filed against her. Mahon ruled that the content of the letter was inadmissible.
The forgery charge stemmed from the mailings’ return address, which listed a fictitious organization followed by the return address of either the Republican or Democratic headquarters, depending on the recipient’s party affiliation. Prosecutors said the address was designed to make voters think the mailing had been sanctioned by party officials, which was false.
Skomsky lost his bid to unseat Arnold, who was ordered out of her office in February 2012 by President Judge James P. MacElree II after the Judicial Conduct Board ruled that she had violated the rules of professional conduct. In July, she was suspended from her job for a month and placed on two years’ probation by the state’s Court of Judicial Discipline.
Palfy was tried in abstentia because of a reported illness.