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Convicted Murderer Appointed to Montgomery County Prison Board of Inspectors by Democrats is Back in Jail

The Montgomery County commissioners voted 2-1 to appoint a convicted murderer to the Prison Board of Inspectors last June.

Now that man, Vernon Steed, has been arrested again and is charged with forgery, identity theft, and theft by deception. Court records show he was unable to make bail and remains in custody.

Minority Republican Commissioner Joe Gale voted against Commissioners Val Arkoosh and Kenneth Lawrence Jr., opposing Steed’s appointment.

Gov. Josh Shapiro appointed Arkoosh as secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services. She stepped down as county commissioners chair earlier this year. Arkoosh declined to comment about Steed.

In 1988, Vernon Steed was convicted of first-degree murder and served 32 years of a life sentence before his release in 2018.

At the June 2, 2022, meeting, Arkoosh said, “I just want to comment that I do intend to support Mr. Steed’s appointment. That he will bring an individual to the Prison Board of Inspectors with lived experience. And I think that will be an extremely important perspective to have as part of our county Prison Board of Inspectors.”

Gale said, “I would just like to point out the lived experience that this individual brings is 32 years in state prison for murder. So, I can’t support this, and we will need a roll call vote.”

Now Gale is telling his Democratic colleagues, “I told you so.”

Gale, who is running for re-election to the board, said in a press release, “It is unacceptable and embarrassing that a member of the Montgomery County Prison Board of Inspectors has been arrested and is being held in detention. It was an absolute disgrace for the Democrat County Commissioners to appoint a convicted murderer to the Prison Board of Inspectors in the first place. Now, less than a year later, their decision to override my opposition has proven to be a grave error in judgment, which jeopardized the safety and welfare of many.

“For the protection of the general public and all county employees and workers, Mr. Steed must be removed from the Montgomery County Prison Board of Inspectors immediately,” said Gale. “I have long advocated that appointees to the Prison Board must 1) Document an unblemished history as a law-abiding member of the community; and 2) Offer positive experience as a correctional officer, law enforcement officer, or legal practitioner well-versed in the criminal justice system.

“I fully expect that my input will now be heard and a qualified, law-abiding applicant will be chosen to replace Vernon Steed,” said Gale.

Kelly Cofrancisco, county communications director, said, “While the commissioners are unable to comment on this specific case, the county continues to support applicants from all backgrounds to apply to serve on Montgomery County boards and commissions in a volunteer capacity. The county remains committed to appointing residents with lived experience and diverse perspectives to serve in these positions.”

The prison board is a citizen’s oversight board with members appointed by the county commissioners and the courts.

As of Monday, Steed’s name was scrubbed from the Montgomery County website. Steed resigned from the board on April 21, Cofrancisco said.

A notice on the website said applications for a new member are being sought.

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GALE: Entitlement and Greed Behind Montco Commissioners’ Vote To Raise Their Own Pay

While Santa Claus is saying ho, ho, ho Montgomery County’s Democrat commissioners are once again saying go, go, go to higher property taxes.

As a result, homeowners will see their 2023 county tax bill soar by eight percent. It will be the fifth rate increase in the last eight years.

Money grabs have become the new normal as Democrat Commission Chair Val Arkoosh has established a long history of raising taxes (see 2016, 2017, 2021, and 2022). But it wasn’t without help. For example, the 2016 tax hike was passed with “yes’’ votes from now Gov.-elect Josh Shapiro and my Republican predecessor on the Board of Commissioners, Bruce Castor.



Truth be told, I am the only Montgomery County Commissioner in over a decade to vote ‘no’ to a tax increase.

And I have done so consistently, as it is my moral and fiduciary duty to be a conservative watchdog for the silent majority who are sick and tired of being fleeced by wasteful and reckless spending.

Speaking of wasteful and reckless spending, I recently voted “no” to a 12 percent pay raise for elected officials and went on the record to refuse participation in the compensation package that the Democrat county commissioners voted to approve. That’s right, I am NOT taking the money.

It is stunning and appalling that my colleagues had the nerve to award themselves a taxpayer-funded salary increase during a time when so many people are out of work and struggling to make ends meet.

The sense of entitlement and greed is overwhelming. In fact, the excess is so rampant that it is nearly impossible to detail the county’s many layers of largesse. The most egregious of which involves the decadent renovation of the justice center in Norristown.

Thanks to spiraling construction costs and countless contract amendments, the price of this boondoggle has already surpassed $400 million. The final tab is anybody’s guess. But what’s for sure is Montgomery County taxpayers will be footing the enormous bill.

In addition to shining a spotlight on extravagant capital budget expenditures, I have also opposed millions of dollars in outrageous spending related to the county’s bloated operating budget – which includes, among other things, a multitude of mail-in voting contracts and woke Diversity, Equity & Inclusion training.

Now is not the time for more of the same. Facing the hurdles of runaway food and energy prices, empty store shelves, and shrinking 401(k)s, the last thing families, retirees and small businesses need is the burden of higher taxes thrown in their faces.

In these uncertain times, Montgomery County residents deserve a voice of sanity. And I will continue to be that voice in an effort to restore common sense and fiscal responsibility to the county courthouse.

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