A Northampton County deputy sheriff is accused of illegally leaking confidential information about a gun permit application to a West Easton councilwoman.
Darin Ray Steward, 45, of Plainfield Township, was charged Thursday with illegal dissemination of information and obstruction of the administration of law for allegedly turning over a copy of a license-to-carry permit application to West Easton Councilwoman Kelly Gross.
According to court records, the case began when attorney Richard Orloski notified the Northampton County District Attorney that he had gotten a photo copy of a license-to-carry application.
Court records do not indicate whose application Orloski had recieved. However, Orloski forwarded a copy of his letter to the DA to Patch editors last month, indicating the permit had been filed by Tricia Mezzacappa, a West Easton resident and current candidate for Northampton County Council.
In Orloski's e-mail, he states that Mezzacappa had used him as a reference in her permit application, when he in fact was in no way endorsing her. Orloski represents blogger Bernie O'Hare, who has a long-running feud with Mezzacappa.
Mezzacappa had been charged last year with threatening Gross, and was later convicted of disorderly conduct.
According to court records, Northampton County District Attorney John Morganelli asked the sheriff's department to investigate the leak.
The affidavit, filed by a county detective, says the sheriff had one of his sergeants look into the leak. One day in March, the sergeant and Steward were target shooting when the sergeant mentioned the investigation.
"You don't have to do an investigation," Steward allegedly said. "I did it."
According to court documents, Steward made the copy on March 10, and then turned it over to Gross on March 15.
Steward was arraigned before Senior District Judge Elizabeth Romig-Gainer in downtown Easton, and was released on his own recognizance.