Fracktivist faces 6 felony charges for recording lawyer
Anti-fracking activist Vera Scroggins has been charged with six felonies for violating Pennsylvania’s wiretapping laws by recording a Montrose lawyer and his secretary without their permission.
The charges stem from a 2013 incident in which Scroggins was denied an application to have her anti-fracking group participate in the town’s Fourth of July parade.
According to a criminal complaint filed this week, Scroggins and fellow activist Craig Stevens went to the office of the parade chair, attorney Laurence Kelly, in June 2013 seeking an application to participate. Kelly and his secretary said they were unaware they were being recorded until the end of the conversation.
“I have a 3 minute, 20 second video talking to him,” says Scroggins. “He refused to let us in the parade and said we’re too controversial because we’re anti-fracking. He said, ‘You’re recording this without my permission. It’s against the law.'”
Kelly did not respond to requests to comment. Scroggins says her video camera was visible during the entire exchange.
Two days later, Scroggins emailed a private YouTube link of the conversation to Susquehanna County District Attorney Jason Legg and complained that Kelly denied their application. According to the criminal complaint against her, the video appeared to be taken at waist-level and tilted upwards at times.
Legg declined to comment and wouldn’t say why his office took two years to file the charges. For the past year and a half, Scroggins has been caught up a high-profile legal battle with one of the region’s largest gas drillers.
“It’s all political. They’re trying to get me,” Scroggins says of the charges. “This is the latest little scheme. We have a club here in this county—the lawyers, the DA, the gas industry. They want to control the opposition.”
Pennsylvania’s wiretapping law requires consent from both parties for audio recordings. However, courts have ruled that violations of the law come down to whether or not the person being recorded has a reasonable expectation of privacy.
Scroggins is already facing a $1,000 fine and possible jail time for violating a court order to stay off gas sites. Her next court date for these latest felony charges is June 1st.