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Northampton County News

County GOP chief files criminal charges against 4 Republican execs over meeting disruption

File photo
Steve Lynch, a member of the Northampton County Republican Committee's executive board, faces misdemeanor charges brought by committee Chairman Glenn Geissinger.

EDITOR'S NOTE: This article, first published March 18, was updated on March 26 to reflect new information obtained through a Right-To-Know request.

WIND GAP, Pa. — The chairman of the Northampton County Republican Committee has pressed criminal charges against four members of the committee's executive board, saying they harassed a couple over alleged pornography last summer in an effort to intimidate them.

In a personal criminal complaint, Chairman Glenn Geissinger alleged that four members of the Northampton County Republican State Committee — Debra Biro, Melanie Heilman, Steve Lynch and Richard Morea — interrupted the June 8 executive board meeting of the NCRC.

About 50 people were present for the regularly scheduled meeting in Bethlehem Township when the four loudly announced they had acquired pornographic images and video found online of two married NCRC officials, according to the complaint.

'Pornographic images'

The four then "shoved paper copies of obscene pornographic images and text in front of the faces of many people present at the meeting," according to the complaint. The four condemned the couple's behavior — the couple were present at the meeting — and called on them to resign from their positions, according to Geissinger's complaint.

LehighValleyNews.com is withholding the names of the couple.

In the complaint, Geissinger said he asked the four to stop interrupting the meeting and to file a complaint against the couple through the committee's formal grievance process. The four refused, however, and their aggressive shouting prevented the meeting from continuing, according to the complaint.

"This is simply Geissinger attempting to file more frivolous, politically driven charges."
Steve Lynch, former Northampton County executive candidate

Geissinger said the quartet's behavior frightened some people into leaving; several attendees later submitted complaints about the antics of the four, he said.

Geissinger said he's barred the four from attending NRCR meetings since the incident.

In his complaint, Geissinger alleged the four conspired to harass, shock and intimidate the meeting's attendees to prevent them taking a position against them.

Private criminal complaint

District Attorney Stephen Baratta approved the complaint Friday and allowed eight misdemeanors to be filed against each of the four — four counts of conspiracy, three counts of disorderly conduct and one count of harassment.

Private criminal complaints don't work the same as those brought by law enforcement. Normally, it is up to an assistant district attorney to present state's evidence and prepare witnesses to testify at a preliminary hearing in magisterial district court.

But in private criminal cases approved by the district attorney, that duty falls to the affiant — Geissinger, in this instance.

"I did not want to do this. I did not want to file a complaint against our own people. But I have a responsibility to the other 250 people who are members of our committee," Geissinger said in an interview Monday.

Baratta declined to comment.

Steve Lynch responds

Geissinger said he has started efforts to have Biro, Heilman, Lynch and Morea removed from the state committee. That decision will ultimately be left up to Lawrence Tabas, chair of the Pennsylvania Republican Committee.

Members of the state committee are elected by registered Republicans in each county. In Northampton County, state committee members are automatically afforded a seat on the NCRC executive board.

Lynch, of Northampton Borough, dismissed the effort as a baseless attack. He noted that Geissinger's complaint was first presented last year to then-Northampton County District Terry Houck and no action was taken.

"This is simply Geissinger attempting to file more frivolous, politically driven charges," Lynch said.

After a three-month investigation, then-Northampton County Assistant District Attorney Tatum Wilson advised township police that prosecutors did not recommend criminal charges at that time, according to police documents obtained through a Right-to-Know request.

County executive campaign

Lynch is best known for his campaign for Northampton County executive in 2021, where he routinely discussed conspiracy theories on the campaign trial.

He created controversy when he announced plans to take "20 strong men" and remove the Northampton Area School Board members from power over their masking policies during the pandemic. Lynch later said the comments, delivered during a Harrisburg speech, were not intended as a threat.

Lynch lost the county executive race to Democratic incumbent Lamont McClure, who used Lynch's social media posts against him. One McClure ad featured one of Lynch's own social media posts, where he reacted to the FBI questioning him over his presence at the Jan. 6 Stop the Steal rally ahead of the assault on the U.S. Capitol.

Lynch denied participating in any violence in Washington, D.C., and has not been charged in that event.