Bar Brawl, 30 Years Ago, May Cost Delaware County Mayor His Job

Bar Brawl, 30 Years Ago, May Cost Delco Mayor His Job

Correction: An earlier version of this story misattributed a quote regarding Bruce Blunt. That error has been fixed below.

Bruce Blunt beat a two-term incumbent in last November's race for mayor of the small Delaware County, Pennsylvania, borough of Morton.

Blunt, a lifelong resident and a Democrat, received 142 votes to Republican Maureen Piselli's 104.

None of those votes may count anymore. The acting county district attorney has filed a complaint against Blunt seeking to remove the 53-year-old from office because of a bar brawl Blunt was involved in 30 years ago.

He was charged and convicted of aggravated assault during the fight in January 1988 inside a Houlihan's Bar in Springfield Township.

"Pursuant to Pennsylvania Constitution Article 2, Section 7, any felony offense qualifies as an 'infamous crime,' which prohibits a person convicted of such an offense from holding public office," Acting District Attorney Katayoun Copeland said in a release announcing the filing of a "quo warranto" complaint. "Because Mayor Blunt’s conviction for Aggravated Assault is graded a second degree felony, he is precluded by the Constitution from holding the office."

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A spokeswoman for Copeland, a Republican, said the DA was not available to talk about the filing Friday, and that she would not answer questions about the timing of the filing.

"That is not something the District Attorney is disclosing," the spokeswoman Adrienne Marofsky said in an email.

Blunt did not respond to messages left at the Morton municipal building or with his brother, Sheldon Blunt.

His brother, however, believes the complaint is politically motivated.

"He beat a two-term incumbent," Sheldon Blunt, a former three-term Republican Morton councilman, of the last mayor, Republican Maureen Pisello. "She can't get over the fact she lost."

And Blunt went a step further, saying that if his brother does get kicked out of office, Piselli won't be mayor again.

"I'll run, and I'll be the next mayor," he said.

His brother would not be the first politician in Pennsylvania to lose an elected office because of years-old felonies. Most recent examples include two local councilmen in separate Allegheny County municipalities: a Democrat newly elected in McKeesport and a Republican serving his third term in Bridgeville.

Mayor Blunt, sworn in last month, was described in a Facebook post during the election campaign as having donated time as a "concrete and excavation expert" to replace sidewalks free of charge and as a volunteer working with local non-violent juvenile offenders on the borough's Youth Aid Panel.

"Bruce promises to be the 'volunteer mayor' inspiring others, adults and kids, to get involved in service to the community," according to a Facebook post for "Team Morton," which profiles a slate of candidates in the borough. The post is signed, "Written by Bob McGrath."

"In terms of pedigree, Bruce comes from a long line of service to the Borough. He's affable, creative and energetic."

He also once punched a police officer in the face, according to a criminal complaint filed by Springfield police Jan. 6, 1988.

The confrontation initially involved two of Blunt's friends, who were identified in the complaint as being part of a fight at the Houlihan's at Springfield Park Shopping Center at 1:55 a.m.

After his friends were arrested and put in a police car, Blunt then became "disorderly inside the bar and was told to leave by Officers," the complaint said.

Instead, police said, he began to argue, "creating a large disturbance."

He was arrested, but instead of complying, the complaint said "he resisted arrest, causing the glass in a display picture to break."

"He than struck Sgt. Gallagher in the face with his fist," the complaint said, noting that he also caused minor injuries to two other officers assisting the sergeant.

He was sentenced to five to 23 months in jail. His brother claims Bruce Blunt did not punch the sergeant.

"He was a young black man," Sheldon Blunt said of his brother, who was 23 at the time.

Sheldon Blunt said his brother is a victim of small town political revenge at a time of certainty for Delaware County Republicans, pointing to historic losses at the county level and on many local governing bodies last November.

Morton was no different, as Democrats took seats on a Council long dominated by Republicans, he said.