Tube City Almanac

June 16, 2009

City Councilman Faces Several Legal Hurdles

Category: News || By

City Councilman Paul Shelly Jr.'s arrest on Saturday is only the latest in a series of legal scrapes for the high-profile mayoral candidate, including possible eviction from his home.

Shelly --- a vocal opponent of Mayor James Brewster and a frequent commenter on Tube City Almanac and various Internet message forums --- was arrested Saturday afternoon after the owner of a Downtown dry-cleaning store called police and said Shelly had threatened him with a handgun.

According to documents filed by city police and reports from the Daily News and WTAE-TV, Shelly, 46, became angry when the shop's owner refused to post one of his campaign signs.

The owner told police Shelly then pointed a pistol at him before leaving the store.

City Patrolman Joseph Stepansky arrested Shelly on Patterson Avenue a short time later. The councilman, a Democrat in the fourth year of his first term, was charged with aggravated assault, recklessly endangering another person, terroristic threats and defiant trespass.

. . .

Jail officials said Shelly was released yesterday after posting $10,000 straight bond. A preliminary hearing is scheduled for 9 a.m. June 22 before Magisterial District Judge Eugene Riazzi Jr.

The arrest has made at least one out-of-town news outlet --- the Kansas City Star carried an item on its crime blog.

Shelly, who missed seven council meetings during 2008 due to illness, is a computer and information technology consultant who was active last year in local campaign efforts on behalf of Barack Obama.

He has been highly critical of Brewster and other city Democratic officials for operating what he calls a political machine.

. . .

Saturday's arrest is Shelly's third recent run-in with the law. On May 12, city Patrolman Vernon Andrews charged Shelly with harassment, a summary offense; a hearing on that citation has been scheduled for June 29.

On June 1, Shelly was cited by city code enforcement officer Ron Brooks for failure to remove garbage after neighbors complained about old political signs littering the front lawn of his home on Versailles Avenue in the city's Grandview section.

That home was recently offered at sheriff's sale. According to Allegheny County court records, North Carolina-based Wachovia Bank began foreclosure proceedings in September 2008 after Shelly and his wife defaulted on a mortgage owing $33,000.

Last week, according to court records, Wachovia received permission to evict the family. (Download court order; PDF reader required.)

. . .

Shelly, who was defeated in the May primary in his bid for re-election, has promised to run for mayor in 2011.

This month, in a series of emails to local media outlets (including the Almanac) and posts on his website,, Shelly accused Brewster and other officials of covering up contamination of Lake Emilie in Renziehausen Park.

The councilman, who said Brewster was jeopardizing the health of city residents who use the park or eat fish caught in the lake, claimed more than 70 fish had been killed.

. . .

As proof, Shelly provided photos and digital video that he said were taken over a series of several days and showed numerous dead fish floating in the lake.

City Public Works Director Nick Shermenti said earlier this month that approximately a dozen catfish stocked in the lake ahead of a fishing derby were found dead.

Preliminary tests by the state Department of Environmental Protection have found no toxins in Lake Emilie.

Your Comments are Welcome!


I was released late last night after spending 72 hours at the county.

The charges against me are MAKE BELIEVE.

The alleged “incident” never happened. I have no idea why a person I considered a friend, who I visited frequently, did work for (on a rental property) and offered my Son a job at his store, would make up such lies.

The truth will play out.

I will be cleared.

And those responsible for the injustice on my family will be brought to justice in the courts.

For the record, I don’t own a gun, never have, and didn’t possess one Saturday.

There was no physical confrontation with the man in question and I NEVER even raised my voice to him, let alone threaten him.

I don’t know or claim to know his motivation for this ludicrous attack.

I understand less how the police took his word over mine but that is their prerogative.

I have yet to be questioned in the matter and no proof or evidence has been produced.

It can’t be.

There isn’t any.

The accuser obviously has some issues that he needs to work out. He is likely to have more now once criminal and civil proceedings are completed.

I predict, that in short order, you will see me cleared of all of the silly accusations thrown my way.

I hope then that the media and the Mayor will speak as loudly and make amends for the slanderous attacks made against my name and my character.

Please stay on this story as when the truth comes out, it will be far different than the fabrications that have hit the media to this point.

Best Regards,

Paul Shelly (URL) - June 17, 2009

About a month or two ago, I got into a small little flame war with loyal reader Cox’s Jimmy when he commented about Mr. Shelly’s campaign signs littering McKeesport. Obviously based on this report, I owe Jimmy a big apology. As an out-of-town reader of Jason’s blog, I clearly didn’t have the context about Mr. Shelly that he did, and I shouldn’t have commented. Jimmy, my apologies, I see your comment in a different light now. Cheers.
Dan - June 17, 2009

On the issue of the home, you are correct. My wife and i chose to default on the mortgage. I was sick and out of work for over 8 months. We really had little choice.

I have remodeled a home for her and my children on Hazel St. and they are presently living there and that is where i am typing from this morning.

Thanks for sharing.

In reality, I am attempting to hold onto the Versailles Ave. property as a business location as I had it zoned commercial years ago and it is in a good location with lots of passing traffic.

Whether that happens or not is more an issue of how reasonable the bank chooses to be than anything else. Unfortunately for home owners, in this terrible economy, all laws and process favor the banks. They have no incentive to let me re-purchase the home or sell it to anyone else quickly.

I’ll keep you posted on the progress and detail the process at a later date.

Mr. Brooks just last week told me that once the yard is cleaned up (again) he will “take care” of the citation. I suppose that means he will rescind it. You will have to ask him the details.

The other case in question is more silliness that was directed at me in a charged political climate during the primary. I don’t take the charge lightly but it has no merit in fact and is likely to be dismissed. I have plead not guilty, as I am not.

Sorry to digress but you did cover a lot of area.

I do respect your investigative skills and am confident that when other city officials face charges, you will do an equally fine job.

Best Regards,

Paul Shelly (URL) - June 17, 2009

Jason, you are to be commended for your fair and complete coverage of what sounds like a basically decent man hitting a rough patch in life. I wish Sluggo all the very best in regaining his footing. God knows Our Fair City needs his energy.
Prof. Bag O'Wind - June 18, 2009


Thank you. It is not how many times we get knocked down in life that matter, it is how many times we are willing to get back up. I’m up and appreciate your comments.

Paul Shelly (URL) - June 20, 2009

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