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(From McClatchy-Tribune Regional News - York Daily Record - Pennsylvania)
Byline: Rick Lee and Emily Opilo
York County President Judge Stephen Linebaugh ruled Wednesday that York City Councilman Michael Helfrich can keep his post despite his felony convictions.
What that means statewide has yet to be determined.
Helfrich, who pleaded guilty to two felony counts of possession with intent to deliver in 1991, was elected to council in November.
Attorneys for York Mayor Kim Bracey argued in a complaint filed shortly afterward that Helfrich's crimes should prohibit him from serving in office.
The state constitution bars those convicted of "infamous crimes" from serving in public office, and state courts have ruled several times that infamous crimes include felonies and crimes of deception.
But according to Linebaugh's decision, those cases were based on the understanding that infamous crimes involved "falsehood" or "affecting the public administration of justice."
Drug crimes, such as Helfrich's, do not fit that standard, Linebaugh wrote.
"Drug crimes are not the same sort of crime as embezzlement, bribery or perjury," he wrote. "Drug crimes are certainly not crimes of falsehood."
Linebaugh's ruling acknowledged that his decision differed from existing case law.
"This Court declines to follow what some would argue is the current position of the (state) Supreme Court," he wrote.