2017-12-14 / Front Page

Charges Against Canton Mayor Withdrawn by DA's Office

By Cain Chamberlin

After it was alleged he hired a prostitute via the Internet, the Bradford County District Attorney’s (DA) Office announced on Thursday that charges against Canton Mayor John Vineski would be dropped due to a lack of evidence. 

Vineski, 60, had been charged with patronizing a prostitute in late November after Canton police said the mayor solicited a woman on the Craig's List website in September and paid her $300 for a massage. Police reportedly found Vineski with a woman in early November after they were called to his home for a disturbance.

DA Dan Barrett has since said charges against Vineski were withdrawn because “the Commonwealth could not proceed without more evidence.” 

According to a press release put out by Barrett’s office, Magisterial District Judge Jonathan Wilcox would have been required to dismiss the charges because there was no evidence that a crime occurred.

Charges were filed after Vineski reportedly made a statement to police. 

“The Commonwealth cannot use a confession unless there is other evidence that the crime occurred.  This is called the ‘corpus delicti’ rule.  There was no other evidence that Vineski committed a crime, so Vineski’s statement could not be used as evidence,” states the press release.

The “corpus delicti” rule is included in the standard jury instructions read at trial.  The instructions include the explanation:  “The object of these rules is to guard against convicting a person of a crime that never happened even though the defendant confessed that it did occur.” 

In the Vineski case, police in Canton received Vineski’s statement on Nov. 7.  They filed charges on Nov.28.  Barrett said the Canton Police Department did not consult with his office before filing charges. 

According to Barrett, “the police did not recognize that they needed other proof before the statement could be used as evidence.”

The press release notes “there are cases where there is no proof to support the admission.”  For example, an addict will admit to selling drugs in years past, but we can’t prove the sales ever occurred.  Others have made confessions to cabin burglaries.  Without any means to identify the cabin, there can be no prosecution.”

According to the DA’s press release, charges can potentially be re-filed against Vineski if evidence is located to show that a crime occurred.

“However, it is unlikely that the other person in the incident will be identified or located,” the release goes on to say.

“While the charges against Vineski might not result in a conviction, the police action on this case brought a bad situation to light, and hopefully to an end,” recognizes the DA’s office. 

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