Mayor responds to calls for action against Wilkes-Barre City Controller over animal cruelty charges

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Aug. 12—WILKES-BARRE — Having been "inundated" with calls and texts following the filing of animal cruelty charges against City Controller Darren Snyder, Mayor George Brown Thursday said he has no authority to discipline another elected official.

Brown said he issued a press release for the public to clarify that Snyder operates independently of the mayor's office.

The release stated: "It would be clearly inappropriate for me to comment on the pending criminal charges involving the City Controller. No matter how disturbing I find the allegations, this matter relates to criminal charges filed by the Wilkes-Barre Police Department against an elected city office holder. As Mayor, I have no jurisdiction or power to determine the next course to be taken by Mr. Snyder. I trust that he will make the right decision for himself, his family, and the people that elected him."

Snyder, 46, a Democrat, was first elected to the office in 2015 and reelected to a second, four-year term in 2019. The Controller's salary was budgeted at $55,549 plus benefits in 2022.

Snyder could not be reached for comment. No one answered when a reporter visited Snyder's house in Wilkes-Barre. Nor was Snyder in his office at City Hall when a reporter visited Thursday afternoon. Messages left on his office phone and cell phone were not immediately returned.

Police filed misdemeanor charges of cruelty to animals and disorderly conduct against Snyder on Aug. 4 after a witness provided them a video taken of the alleged abuse of two dogs. Snyder Tuesday was issued a summons to appear for the preliminary hearing in Luzerne County Central Court on Sept. 13.

The status of the dogs was unknown.

Todd Hevner, executive director of the Luzerne County Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, said the police have control of the case.

"If they feel it warrants, then they remove them and bring them into my care," Hevner said. But police did not bring the dogs to the SPCA's facility in Plains Township, he said.

A message left with Wilkes-Barre City Police Department Chief Joseph Coffay was not returned immediately Thursday.

Reach Jerry Lynott at 570-991-6120 or on Twitter @TLJerryLynott.