News Eagle - Hawley, PA
  • Questions over military record hover over court's leniency

  • New information in the dispute over the sentencing of a veteran with multiple drunken driving convictions has prompted the Pike County District Attorney’s Office to ask Judge Joseph Kameen to review his decision that allows the man to be on furlough from prison.Timothy Flaherty’s official military records do n...
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  • New information in the dispute over the sentencing of a veteran with multiple drunken driving convictions has prompted the Pike County District Attorney’s Office to ask Judge Joseph Kameen to review his decision that allows the man to be on furlough from prison.
    Timothy Flaherty’s official military records do not tell the same story that the court heard when determining his sentence, the prosecutor’s office contends.
    There is no record of a Purple Heart medal, no post-traumatic stress disorder diagnosis, and he was removed from the Army in part for a cocaine addiction, being drunk on duty at least four times and for being absent without leave, his military records show.
    Flaherty, 30, has been stopped for drunken driving at least five times in the United States, at least twice in Pike County.
    He drove with a suspended license, injured a person in one crash, assaulted two state troopers during one arrest, and was given a previous furlough by Kameen to attend a special military treatment program for addiction.
    But he left the program and was arrested for DUI again, and again Kameen gave him a furlough to attend an addiction treatment center instead of prison.
    Pike County District Attorney Ray Tonkin’s office has gone to the Pennsylvania Superior Court to appeal the decision.
    In his decision, Kameen wrote that a primary consideration was the fact that Flaherty is a disabled veteran, was deployed to Afghanistan, and served 27 months of active duty. He suffers from PTSD and severe traumatic brain injury because he was severely injured in 2005 in Afghanistan when his vehicle was struck by an explosive device and fellow officers in the vehicle were killed, Kameen wrote.
    Kameen sentenced Flaherty to one year and 90 days to 5 years in the Pike County Correctional Facility, but then granted the furlough.
    Pennsylvania law requires a maximum sentence be less than five years for someone to be eligible for furlough, Tonkin’s office said in court papers, so Flaherty should not have been eligible for furlough.
    But political winds in Pike County are pushing to keep Flaherty on furlough.
    Pike County Commissioner Rich Caridi has been a vocal advocate for Flaherty and says the justice system should offer leniency because of Flaherty’s PTSD.
    Caridi and Brian Flaherty, Timothy Flaherty’s grandfather, are members of the same Blooming Grove Marine veterans’ organization.
    Delaware Township Supervisor and Marine veteran Tom Ryan was involved in organizing a fundraiser to help cover Flaherty’s legal fees for the fight to keep him on furlough.
    Tonkin’s office Monday filed a motion for Kameen to review the furlough decision based on information found in Flaherty’s DD-214 military service records.
    Page 2 of 2 - A presentence report written by the Pike County probation office, based on statements made by Flaherty, says Flaherty served in 2005.
    The military record fails to mention any documented service in Afghanistan in 2005.
    Flaherty told Pike probation that he served a total of 27 months deployed overseas. Military records show he served a total of one year, nine months and 11 days of foreign service, or just over 21 months.
    He told probation that he was honorably discharged from the Army with advice to seek rehabilitation.
    The report shows that Flaherty was discharged for a list of eight reasons: alcohol or other drug abuse rehabilitation failure; disobeying a direct order; drunk on duty four times; making false official statements; leaving a place of duty; AWOL; failure to report; and testing positive for cocaine.
    Through his attorney during court testimony, the judge was told that Flaherty had earned a Purple Heart medal. But mention of a Purple Heart was “conspicuously absent from the DD–214,” court papers say.
    The traumatic incident Flaherty’s family has described is that his vehicle was struck by an explosive device and everyone in the vehicle died except Flaherty.
    U.S. Army regulations say a Purple Heart is justified when injury is caused by the enemy, including a concussion; or is the result of an enemy generated-explosion or an enemy-placed mine or trap.
    The incident seems to fit the criteria to earn a Purple Heart, but according to his military service records, no Purple Heart was awarded.
    The military records also contain a behavioral health report from June 2009 by a licensed psychologist and neuropsychologist. The report points to addiction rather than brain injury.
    “Current results indicate no significant persisting impairment from traumatic brain injury,” the report said.
    Flaherty was also tested for PTSD and delayed onset PTSD.
    “Although Flaherty reports distress from his combat experiences, all criteria for PTSD were not met,” the report said. It added that Flaherty does meet the criteria for anxiety disorder but the severity of the anxiety was not considered appropriate for separation from the military on medical grounds.
    The primary diagnosis from the neuropsychologist was alcohol and cocaine abuse.
    During his military career Flaherty obtained a rank of staff Sgt. Grade E–5 but he had his rank reduced three times, eventually down to private grade E-1, his military records show.
    Tonkin has asked Kameen to set a time for a hearing to review the furlough.
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