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Dauphin County D.A.’s office files motion to remove Harrisburg School Board member

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HARRISBURG, Pa. -- The Dauphin County District Attorney's office is taking action against one of the newest members of the Harrisburg School Board.

A past misdemeanor theft conviction could make Carrie Fowler ineligible to keep her position on the board.

The District Attorney's office filed a motion t the Dauphin County Courthouse that spells out the reasons why no action was taken to remove Fowler until now.

One day after Fowler took her place on the Harrisburg School Board, Dauphin County First Assistant District Attorney Fran Chardo took action to remove her from office.

"When someone has a conviction for a crime of falsehood, such as theft, they're ineligible to hold public office under a ruling from the Pennsylvania Supreme Court," Chardo said.

There's not much gray area in the court filing that the Dauphin County District Attorney's sees as black and white.

"The rules of civil procedure say only the attorney general or the district attorney can file an action, to remove someone from office, so we had an obligation to file the action," Chardo said.

Court documents state in addition to Fowler's misdemeanor theft conviction, she also has five convictions for driving under the influence of alcohol. It may lead some voters to wonder why wasn't Fowler removed from the ballot before being sworn into office.

"The district attorney and the attorney general don't have the authority to file that action, one of her opponents would have to file that action," Chardo said.

Chardo said Fowler was given the option to resign in advance, but the recently elected school board member chose not to, stating that she's here to serve the voters who gave her a seat at the table.

After Monday nights board reorganization meeting, Fowler said "I have a lot of respect for our district attorneys, for Fran Chardo. I understand that he is doing his job, just like I have to do my job. He's doing his job. Now, it goes to the courts it goes to judge Lewis and judge Lewis will get to make the decision."

"The court will decide whether or not she's eligible, and if the court decides that under the Pennsylvania constitution that she's not eligible, the court will remove her," Chardo said.

Until then, Fowler has 20 days to respond to the lawsuit.

"We've never lost one of these cases, we've brought these whenever it's come to our attention that someone had one of these convictions, we filed the action, and we've won every one of the cases," Chardo said.

Surprisingly, the paperwork to run for office in Pennsylvania doesn't require candidates to divulge if they've been convicted of a crime.

It only asks candidates if they're eligible. So some candidates may have no idea they're ineligible to run until someone files a complaint.

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