DA investigates Quakertown school director's 25-year-old bank fraud conviction
A Quakertown school director says he will step down if the Bucks County district attorney determines that his criminal convictions from as many as 25 years ago would make it inappropriate for him to serve in public office.
Austin Sedicum, 50, a sports podiatrist in Quakertown who has served 2 ½ years on the Quakertown Community School District board, said Wednesday he would cooperate with the district attorney’s conclusions.
Sedicum’s convictions, which he said he was unaware he’d have to disclose, include a 1993 bank fraud conviction, a pair of DUIs in 2005 and charges in 2011 pertaining to the use of a fake license years before.
“It’s public record. My life is an open book,” Sedicum said when reached by phone. “There's nothing to hide. No one ever asked the questions and I didn't think to volunteer it.
“If the DA’s office determines that I’m eligible to continue to serve, then I will continue with the same thoughtfulness that the board and the community has had ample opportunity to observe.”
The district attorney’s office confirmed Wednesday it is investigating the matter. Quakertown Superintendent Bill Harner said the matter would be addressed at 7 p.m. Thursday at the school board meeting.
“We have been advised that the school board has no role in determining this Board member’s eligibility to serve,” Harner said in a statement.
Word about Sedicum’s convictions began circulating on social media last week, he said. The school board, at the advice of counsel, reached out to the district attorney to make the call on whether a resignation was necessary.
The Pennsylvania School Board Association indicates an “infamous crime” disqualifies a candidate from office. Courts have interpreted that term to include all felonies as well as certain misdemeanors involving dishonesty or other “moral turpitude.”
Sedicum confirmed that he is the head of the school board’s finance committee but does not directly deal with any district funds. His job, he said, is to review budgets and find ways of reducing costs.
Sedicum said that his 1993 bank fraud conviction during his time as a student at the University of Pennsylvania would be the most likely to derail his post on the school board. Sedicum said he helped launder $565,000 for a pair of graduates who had set up a fake company.
Sedicum said he was diagnosed as bipolar at the time and had not, up to that point, been medicated. Though he faced decades in prison, Sedicum said the judge ordered him to serve only 90 days at a federal medical facility. He said he was not ordered to pay any fines or restitution.
Though the public records from that time were not available, Associated Press news stories match Sedicum’s account and show he was sentenced for actions “under a diminished capacity” and sent for medical treatment rather than prison.
“During that time ... I made a change of course in life and went back to school and pursued a medical career,” Sedicum said. “It put me on a better path of life.”
The more recent charges included a 2011 tampering with public records charge related to the fake license from years prior. Those charges resulted in probation, according to court records. For a pair of DUIs in 2005, Sedicum was sentenced to a minimum of three months in jail, records show.
Sedicum said that he’s not interested in creating a distraction and hopes the direction from the district attorney’s office makes his next steps clear.
Sedicum said he was not asked about any criminal convictions when he filled out his ballot for the school director position, but he wishes he had been.
“That question should be on there. I would never be in this predicament if it had asked that question,” he said.
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