The York Dispatch from York, Pennsylvania on January 23, 1987 · 26
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The York Dispatch from York, Pennsylvania · 26

York, Pennsylvania
Issue Date:
Friday, January 23, 1987
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THE YORK DISPATCH FRIDAY JANUARY 23 1987 26 Dwyer death: ‘disbelief’ (Continued From Last Page) Budd did — starting with the father he was the husband he was the friend he was “Budd was a survivor He had an upbeat spirit and used it to cheer others up” Hess said he and Dwyer’s mutual friends never had any indication the treasurer planned to kill himself especially the way he did “He must have been very despondent That’s the only thing I can possibly conclude” The senator said his thoughts right now are with Dwyer’s wife and his two young adult children Rep Michael Bortner said he “was shocked like everybody else My thoughts are with his (Dwyer’s) family It’s a terrible tragedy for his family and state government” “I was shocked and saddened by Budd Dwyer’s suicide” said Rep Bruce Smith who said he first met Dwyer in 1980 when both were campaigning for office - Rep John Broujos called Dwyer a 'very nice man “I met him on a number of occa- TV NEW YORK (UPI) - When Pennsylvania State Treasurer R Budd Dwyer put a gun in his mouth and pulled the trigger before television cameras at a news conference repercussions were felt in newsrooms across the country n Dwyer’s suicide Thursday left broadcasters with a tough question — whether to air the gruesome footage ’ ' Almost immediately the NBC af-filiate in Pittsburgh WPXI put its film on the air and showed the suicide in full Two other Pittsburgh stations KDKA (CBS) and WTAE (ABC) balked at showing the actual shooting 1 V‘The jiews director executive producer and producer of the program made the difficult decision to go with the facts the editorial decision was made only after considerable thought” WPXI news assistant Andrea King said She said a disclaimer began airing three minutes before the story warning viewers to leave the room or turn off the TV if they did not want to see the suicide After airing the clip in full once WPXI’s News Operation Manager By Williams said he would not show the actual shooting again ‘ “I made the decision that on a breaking story this was responsible journalism” he said about airing the clip On the night newscast Williams said the station would run the clip up to the point where Dwyer took out the gun freezing the film there while continuing the sound so the viewer woultHhear “the natural sounds” of the Shooting At WTAE news director Joe Ro-vitto said “It was my feeling it was not appropriate to show it” KDKA cut the film just before Dwyer put the gun to his mouth at the end of the news conference he had called Anchorwoman Patti Burns told viewers that it was “too horrible” to show KDKA said it received more than 100 calls from viewers commending the station for deciding against airing the footage CTA chronology By United Press International — September 1983: Allegheny County officials award Computer Technology Associates Inc a contract to recover Social Security tax overpayments on behalf of county and employees CTA later receives about $250000 for the work — May 1984: Pittsburgh officials pay CTA $150000 for tax-recovery work performed without contract — May 1984: State Treasurer R Budd Dwyer awards CTA no-bid contract worth up to about $6 million for tax-recovery work on behalf of school districts and their employees — July 13 1984: Dwyer cancels contract after federal investigation begins — July 23 1984: State Auditor General A1 Benedict challenging Dwyer in treasurer’s race publicly discloses federal investigation of CTA state contract — Oct 23 1984: Federal grand jury indicts CTA owner John Torquato Jr CTA president Judy Ellis CTA lawyer Alan Stoneman Dauphin County Republican Party chief William Smith and David Herbert director of state Bureau of Social Security for Public Employees — Nov 6 1984: Dwyer defeats Benedict in treasurer’s race — Nov 9 1984: Herbert pleads guilty later sentenced to year and day in prison and fined $10000 — Dec 17 1984: Torquato a Johnstown native and son of the late Democratic Party boss pleads sions and he was a very fine person” Broujos said “The real tragedy” Broujos said “is the effect John Torquato (the owner of the firm that initiated the state contract transaction) had on all the people (including Dwyer) who were involved” James Markle a York resident and a retired bureau chief in the state treasurer’s office said “Dwyer wasn’t one of my favorite people but never would I want his life to end like that” John W Thompson York County Republican Party chief was almost speechless after Dwyer’s suicide “It’s a real tragedy” he said “Oh my Lord I’ve never even heard of such a thing To do it the way he did it’s unbelievable” he declared i York County Commissioner Lorraine B Hovis stated “It’s tragic Anytime anybody feels he has to take his life in front of TV cameras (that person) must be very ill” Mrs Hovis said she’s frightened that Dwyer’s public suicide may encourage other mentally unstable people to follow suit cover NBC ABC CBS and CNN agreed the suicide footage should not be shown in full CNN cut the film clip before Dwyer put the gun in his mouth “It is grotesque” CNN executive vice president Ed Turner said “In my opinion (airing it) proves nothing and would serve no purpose other than to feed the appetite of a few in the audience whose values are distorted” It is one of the most difficult questions of ethics a broadcast journalist can face Moving pictures are the lifeblood of TV news and it is only in the most extraordinary cases that hot film is left in the can Whether to air Thursday’s shooting was more than just a question of taste All news organizations have aired their share of footage from wars airplane crashes and shootings But there is evidence that giving publicity to suicides results in more people taking their lives “It’s not simply a question of taste” said Tom Bettag executive producer of CBS Evening News “It is the question of (the suicide victim’s) grandstanding” Professor James Maas chairman of the Cornell University psychology department said ther is “clear-cut evidence” that suicides reported in newspapers or on TV stimulate other suicides “Reading about suicides tends to increase the suicide rate” Maas said “I think it’s irresponsible for the media to emphasize that kind of act” With that sentiment about publicizing suicides news broadcasters must tread carefully It is a question that hasn’t stopped some entertainment programmers however Two weeks ago NBC’s “LA Law” ran a segment in which a lawyer committed suicide in the courtroom And Wednesday night CBS’s “The Equalizer” featured a crooked judge who committed suicide at the end of the episode It was not known whether Dwyer watched either show guilty later sentenced to four years in prison sentence reduced to 22 months — Dec 21 1984: Ellis Torquato’s live-in companion pleads guilty later sentenced to 30 days in jail or jail-type treatment facility placed on two years probation and fined $5000 — March 26 1985: Opening statements in trial ' of Smith and Stoneman — June 24 1985: Smith and Stoneman found guilty Smith later sentenced to 12 years in prison and fined $63000 Stoneman later sentenced to four months in jail and fined $10000 — Oct 11 1985: Pittsburgh City Council President Robert Rade Stone indicted — Oct 28 1985: Smith signs agreement to cooperate with the government in part for recommendation his prison sentence be cut to 22 months — March 5: Pittsburgh City Council President Robert Rade Stone found innocent by jury — May 13: Dwyer and former Republican State Committee Chairman Robert Asher indicted on charges of conspiracy perjury interstate transportation in aid of racketeering and mail fraud — Nov 14: Opening statements in trial of Dwyer and Asher — Dec 18: Dwyer and Asher convicted — Thursday: Dwyer fatally shoots self at news conference Impact of Dwyer suiacle discussed (Continued From Last Page) it’s impossible to know what effect it could have on someone who is depressed or having suicidal feelings “If you have— a—suicide in the community you get a copy-cat effect” according to Watkins “That’s why it’s important to talk about things and know of other ways it could be handled” A person in depression is locked into a certain perspective and cannot see the options Watkins noted so talking out the problem with others can help Watkins said parents should explain to their children “how that man must have been feeling and that were many other options he could have taken if he shared his j United Press International SWEATING as he gave a rambling talk during a press conference in Harrisburg yesterday was State Treasurer Budd Dwyer Reporters were expecting him to announce his resignation but moments later he pulled a gun and killed himself Son says Dwyer innocent of charge HERSHEYr-PaT-(UPI) - Snow gently fell oyerthe upper middle-class neighborhood where state Treasurer R Budd Dwyer lived with his wife and two children crusting over the rusty basketball hoop in the Dwyers’ driveway The silence on the nearly deserted street was punctuated only by the muffled hum of snowblowers as residents cleared sidewalks and driveways Thursday — a stark contrast to the mayhem 10 miles away in Harrisburg resulting from Dwyer’s suicide at a news conference The treasurer’s wife Joanne and the couple’s " children Robert 21 and Dyan 18 appeared briefly at the door of their home but they did not speak to reporters or issue a statement Dwyer’s brother-in-law William Phillips said the treasurer “took care of everything here” in letters left for family members! A red-eyed and distraught Joanne Dwyer wearing a green-and-white sweatshirt appeared briefly at the door The daughter Dyan Dwyer also briefly appeared at the door before an unidentified relative led the weeping woman' back into the house “My mother my mother can’t talk We heard about it (the shooting) over'the'Tadio We’re just sitting tight right now waiting for some word We’re reading the letters he left for us My mother is crying she’s just crying” The son Robert Dwyer said in a telephone interview “It’s all personal stuff in the letters He just told us that he was innocent of what they accused him of He was innocent That’s why he didn’t resign But he gave up hope That’s why he took the gun into work this morning” Robert Dwyer said his voice cracking with emotion He said his father hadgiven Jip-hope in a country that didn’t believe an innocent man a country that could send an innocent man to prison” Dwyer was convicted along with former Republican State Committee Chairman Robert Asher last month for steering a state contract to California-based Computer Technology Associates Inc for promises of $300000 in kickbacks He was to be sentenced in Williamsport today He was holding off his resignation which reporters expected the feelings with other people” Yorkers reacted strongly to Dwyer’s suicide and TV’s coverage of it A city police sergeant said he was angry about the television airing of the suicide—""'"'! “If I had younger kids (who watched it)” he said “I would sue somebody” Jo Alwine a city clerk commented that “If he did it because he was innocent people won’t believe it They’ll think he did it because he was guilty and didn’t want to go to jail” Miss Alwine believes that Dwyer “had it planned outYou could see that He had the office furniture rearranged He was barricaded from everyone so they couldn’t stop him” Republican to announce at the new conference in Harrisburg Thursday morning because he “believed something was going to happen to clear him” Robert Dwyer said “He was innocent Can you believe they convicted an innocent man My father was innocent” he said Phillips said he arrived at the Dwyers’ one-story white-brick home shortly after news of the shooting was broadcast on local radio stations Five cars and a trailer were parked in the small driveway and along the street Shades and curtains blocked windows in the home “All I can say is that her (Joanne Dwyer’s) mother her sister and her brother-in-law are here” Phillips said in very brief comments to reporters He said the family had considered calling the police to remove the reporters from the lawn “but that was an overreaction based on the trauma” News of the shooting which most neighbors heard on the radio sent ripples of shock and disbelief throughout the-areadescribed by one resident as “a keep-to-yourself” neighborhood “I can’t believe it I really can’t believe it” said Jim Wise who lived two doors away from the Dwyers and described the treasurer as a “nice guy” he had known for about 10 years “As a neighbor I used to see the guy go by and I would wave to him and (Dwyer’s) kids would always wave” Wise said “You know he worked around his house like anybody” He said that Dwyer did not seem distraught or upset when he last saw him Tuesday on the street Sue Kellner whose children had attended high school with Dwyer’s children also said the treasurer did not seem perturbed “Just the other day I saw him driving up and he just waved” said Kellner who lives four doors away from the Dwyers “They’re just nice friendly people I just talked with her (Joanne Dwyer) quite a while Tuesday in the grocery store” Kellner said noting that she had already offered her help to the Dwyer family “We feel really dreadful about it None of us wanted to believe that he was guilty because of the nice family man that he was” she said Excerpts of talk HARRISBURG Pa (UPI) -Excerpts of state Treasurer R Budd Dwyer’s remarks at the news conference Thursday during which he fatally shot himself: “First I’d like to thank you all for coming You know this is the oldest executive office in the commonwealth and I’ve been very proud to serve here six years Well six years last Tuesday It’s rather ironic that the apex of Governor Casey’s career occurs the same week as the death of my career occurs my my 23-year career I want to thank everyone who has been supportive of me over the years particularly I want to thank my family my staff my friends all those who have been just so wonderful and so supportive during the last 2 Vi years of this ordeal I’ve been in politics 22 years Nineteen and a half years was a real joy The last 2 V years have been less than a joy I can assure you that the Treasury Deparment has continued to function continued with improvements I’m very proud of the job that they’ve done ' “I have a number of things to say For 2 Vi years I have not said anything inappropriate on the advice of counsel and a lot of other people The time has come when I must say say a number of things Uh as a result of what has happened to me I feel it must be said so it will not happen to others “We have worked diligently during the last six years to modernize this department We’ve No reporter wants to cover suicide By THOM COLE HARRISBURG Pa (UPI) - This is a story no reporter wants to write I saw the suicide of State Treasurer R Budd Dwyer at a news conference Thursday I wish I hadn’t Like most of the reporters crowded into Dwyer’s wood-paneled office I expected the treasurer to resign Instead on the eve of his sentencing in a government bribery scandal he pulled a 357 magnum pistol from a large manila envelope put the black barrel in his mouth and pulled the trigger Dwyer a burly man with thinning white hair slumped dead onto the light blue carpet blood splattered on his clothing His right hand still was wrapped around the handle of the gun Dwyer was 47 married and the laiLer of two college-age children a daughter and son He was jovial and likable At his arraignment eight months ago he pulled out a pocket camera smiled and took a picture of the media gathered outside the federal courthouse Even after his indictment he attended the annual show in September put on by Statehouse reporters to “roast” politicians He laughed at the biting jokes about him Dwyer was convicted Dec 18 and was to be sentenced Friday afternoon It was a virtual certainty he would go to prison He faced up to 55 years Dwyer’s news conference started promptly at 10:30 am EST when he took his place behind a podium he said had been given him 25 years ago by a group of high school students Three to four dozen reporters state Treasury Department aides and others were jammed into the room For most of the half-hour news conference Dwyer rambled about his accomplishments as treasurer his political career spanning more than 20 years his innocence needed reforms in the judicial system shortcomings of the media and a tiff with former Gov Dick Thornburgh About his accomplishments he said “Needless to say this is what I’d like to be remembered for but I know you know my obituary and everything else will have CTA (the nickname for the bribery scandal) and that’s all I will be remembered Dwyer’s biography By United Press International R Budd Dwyer was elected state treasurer in 1980 and re-elected in 1984 Dwyer served in the House of Representatives from 1965-71 and in the Senate from 1971-81 He was a delegate to the 1976 Republican National Convention at which Gerald Ford was nominated for president In 1978 he received a law degree from the Dickinson School of Law in Carlisle He earned master’s and bachelor’s degrees in the early 1960s at Allegheny College He and his wife Joanne had two children: Robert 21 and Dyan 18 The family home is in Meadville Crawford County Born Nov 21 1939 Dwyer was the son of Robert and Alice Dwyer taken it from an antique into one of the most widely modern and recognized treasury departments in the United States Needless to say this is what I would like to be remembered for but I know you know my obituary and everything else will have CTA and that’s all I will be remembered for But if you take time I’d appreciate you looking over this “I think that those of'you who are putting your cameras away I think that you ought to stay because we’re not finished yet “Frankly only mistakes of law can be appealed not mistakes of a jury and that is the sad fact and my attorney just said that I have very little chance of winning on appeal and frankly I couldn’t afford another trial if I did “A person who makes waves will receive a longer sentence higher fine rougher treatment while in prison and stands less chance of being paroled I’ve even been advised by people familiar with the system that I’d now (should) say I did something wrong because they believe it will be easier for me from here on out “I realize that you are news reporters and I am just another piece of meat to you but I hope that something I reveal today penetrates through the cynicism and callousness that is stereotyped in your profession “Please leave the room if this will Don’t! Don’t!” for” At one point when Dwyer sensed that reporters were getting anxious for his resignation announcement the treasurer urged the television crews to keep their cameras rolling Dwyer passed out two packets of documents to the media including a letter to the leaders of congressional judiciary committees and a news release There was a notation at the end of the news statement saying the last page had been omitted but could be obtained after the news conference from press aides I still thought the last page would be his resignation After reading parts of the news statement Dwyer called three aides to the podium and handed each a letter-size white envelope It was learned later that the envelopes contained an organ donor card instructions on funeral arrangements and a letter to: Gov Robert P Casey asking the governor to consider appointing Dwyer’s wife to succeed him After handing out the envelopes to his aides Dwyer pulled a bulging manila envelope from his briefcase From the envelope he pulled the gun He said “Please leave the room if this will ” His voice was drowned out by spectator shouts of “No! No! No!” With the gun in his right hand he stuck out his left arm as if to ward off anyone who would interfere and said “Don’t! Don’t!” He then did what he set out to do About 10 to 15 seconds elapsed between the time he pulled the gun and when he shot himself Frozen with fear and horror no one tried to disarm him When he pulled the gun I was standing at the rear of the room next to a doorway poised for a fast getaway to a telephone to report his expected resignation My first thought when I saw the gun was for myself Would he turn the gun on the media he had just harshly criticized? Did I want to see a suicide? I decided I could dive through the doorway to safety if he pointed the gun on the crowd I decided I had to watch the shooting That’s part of my job I wish it wasn’t When it was over I rushed to a telephone with the story There was no time for emotion no time to reflect on the human tragedy that had just occurred I guess that will come later Both parents are deceased The treasurer’s post is the oldest elective office in state government In addition to serving as chief executive officer of the Treasury Department the treasurer is the custodian of the Public School Employes’ Retirement Fund the State Employes’ Retirement Fund the Municipal Employes’ Retirement Fund the Workmen’s Insurance Fund and the Unemployment Compensation Fund The treasurer is chariman of the Board of Finance and Revenue and a member of the Board of Commissioners of Public Grounds and Buildings The treasurer is responsible for the receipt and deposit of all ste funds investments in securities preauditing of expenditures and payment of state monies

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