ROYALTON, DAUPHIN COUNTY — A magistrate on Wednesday dismissed tampering and obstruction charges against Hugo Selenski’s ex-lawyer Shelley Centini, and private investigator James Sulima.
Selenski, his court-appointed attorney, Shelley Centini, and private investigator and former Pittston police officer, James Sulima, all faced charges ranging from witness intimidation to solicitation of perjury.
It was eleven years ago this week that the remains of five bodies were found buried on Hugo Selenski’s property, and to this day he has not been convicted of killing any of them.
There were cheers, applause, and tears of joy as a magistrate near Harrisburg made his final ruling: not enough evidence to send attorney Shelley Centini and investigator James Sulima to trial for witness intimidation, evidence tampering, and solicitation.
“I’m just thrilled for my client, for Jim Sulima, who’s a great investigator, who was a police officer for years without a blemish on his record,” said Sulima’s attorney Bill Ruzzo.
“(This) went a long way in ensuring that defense lawyers in this state are protected in fulfilling their constitutional mandate,” added Centini’s attorney Al Flora.
The ruling comes after the state attorney general’s office charged the two along with convicted criminal Hugo Selenski in January.
According to testimony, Selenski wrote letters to some of the witnesses in his double homicide trial.
His attorney and the investigator then met with those witnesses and gave them Selenski’s letters.
Because they didn’t write the material but only delivered it, a judge dismissed the charges against Centini and Sulima.
Shelley Centini’s attorney says this ruling is not only a big win for Centini and James Sulima, but it’s a big win for defense attorneys throughout across the state of Pennsylvania.
“Had this case been sent up, it would have been a death nail to defense lawyers, and it would have jeopardized the freedom that we all hold so dear,” Flora said.
The judge dismissed several charges against Hugo Selenski but ruled there is enough evidence to send him to trial for intimidating witnesses, tampering with evidence, and obstruction.
Selenski represented himself in court, telling the judge, “if anything, it was a mistake. I should have shown the reports but again a mistake is not a criminal act. Writing letters isn’t a crime.”
Hugo Selenski’s double homicide trial is scheduled for November.