Tierneys claim financial hardship in court filings

Liz Evans Scolforo
York Dispatch


Jodie Tierney's defense has been granted a continuance on its motion that she be released on bail pending the appeal of her conviction, citing Tierney's inability to pay for her defense.

Tierney, 46, of the first block of Percheron Drive in Windsor Township, remains incarcerated, serving 2½ to six years for providing alcohol to Red Lion-area teens, including two who died in a fiery DUI crash.

From left, Red Lion-area residents Dylan Gurreri, Cody Stern and Cody Heffner gather around a memorial built at the base of a utility pole on Slab Road for their friends and classmates Stone Hill, 17, of Delta, and Nicholas Mankin, 16, of Felton, the day after the two Red Lion students died in a fiery crash.
(Dawn J. Sagert photo - dsagert@yorkdispatch.com)

Philadelphia-based attorney Demetra Mehta on Sept. 8 filed a motion seeking bail for Tierney, and presiding York County Common Pleas Judge Maria Musti Cook initially scheduled a hearing on the request for Tuesday, Nov. 21.

On Oct. 18, Mehta filed a request for a 50-percent reduction in the cost of trial and pretrial transcripts, citing what she called the Tierney family's financial hardship.

Transcript costs from the county's clerk of courts office are estimated to be as much as $6,000, according to the motion, which states the Tierneys can't afford that cost.

"Mr. (Stephen) Tierney has signed an affidavit testifying to his poor financial condition," the motion states.

Pay and expenses: The affidavit states Stephen D. Tierney, Jodie Tierney's husband, makes $4,220 per month after taxes — meaning he clears about $50,000 a year — but has monthly expenditures totaling $6,376.

In York County, the per capita gross income between 2011 and 2015 was $28,400, according to U.S. Census data.

The Tierneys have a roughly $200,000 home, but a year ago the couple took out a 30-year $125,000 mortgage on it, the affidavit states.

Stephen Tierney also noted he's paying $15,500 a year in college expenses for the couple's adult son.

He pays between $250 and $300 monthly for Jodie Tierney's prison phone calls and for her prison commissary account, the affidavit states.

Jodie Tierney

Legal costs: Together, Jodie and Stephen Tierney owe York County nearly $10,000 in fines and court costs, according to the affidavit, and incurred $40,000 in legal costs so far.

Jodie Tierney lost her job in the insurance industry and spent her savings on her criminal case, Mehta wrote.

Judge Cook on Oct. 23 denied the motion seeking a hardship reduction in transcript costs, according to court records.

In response, Mehta on Nov. 6 filed a motion for an extension of time on her appeal in York County until the state Superior Court — to which Jodie Tierney has appealed her conviction — decides whether to grant her in forma pauperis status, meaning she wouldn't have to pay certain court-filing costs and fees.

Mehta wrote that she can't move forward with Jodie Tierney's appeal without seeing the court transcripts, which the Tierneys can't afford to pay for.

The judge has now rescheduled Jodie Tierney's bail hearing for Dec. 27, according to court records.

The background: Stone Hill, 17, and Nick Mankin, 16, were killed shortly after 7 p.m. June 16, 2015, when Stone lost control of his SUV, which flipped, slammed into a utility pole and burst into flames on Slab Road in Lower Chanceford Township, just minutes from Stone's home.

Stone Hill, left, and Nicholas Mankin.

They were on their way to Stone's house from the Tierney home, where they had spent the day hanging out, swimming and drinking, according to prosecution testimony.

Chief deputy prosecutor Tim Barker has described the teen drinking parties at the Tierney home as "ragers."

From December 2014 to June 2015, there was vomiting, passing out and one occasion of bed-wetting, he said. One young man was body-slammed by a friend for trying to inappropriately touch girls, he said.

More:Jodie Tierney seeks freedom as she appeals conviction

More:Witness: Tierney said 'she does what she wants - it's her rules'

Never alerted parents: One of the young men became so drunk on rum he was unresponsive and had to be carried to his father's car, according to testimony, but still the Tierneys didn't alert any parents.

Barker has called Jodie Tierney's inaction "the epitome of indifference" toward the teens and scoffed at her assertion that she had no idea that drinking was going on in her home.

Judge Cook also has said in court she doesn't believe the statements Jodie Tierney made about the circumstances leading up to the fatal crash and also said the Tierneys took "minimal accountability" for their actions despite their "overwhelming guilt."

"The parenting displayed (by the Tierneys) in this case rivals some of the worst I've ever seen," the judge has said.

Stephen Tierney

Probation for husband: Stephen Tierney, 47, was sentenced to three years' probation and 175 hours of community service and ordered to attend DUI classes and pay a $750 fine and court costs.

He pleaded guilty July 10, on the eve of trial, to corruption of minors and furnishing alcohol to minors.

Stephen Tierney's guilty plea was not for the deaths of Stone and Nick. It was for allowing the group of teens to drink at his home on one occasion.

— Reach Liz Evans Scolforo at levans@yorkdispatch.com or on Twitter at @LizScolforoYD.