President Commissioner Julie Wheeler issued cease-and-desist letter by county solicitor

Matt Enright
York Dispatch

County Solicitor Michèlle Pokrifka sent a cease-and-desist letter to President Commissioner Julie Wheeler over alleged disparaging remarks the elected official made after receiving Pokrifka's resignation.

Pokrifka, who resigned last Monday, confirmed a letter had been sent to Julie Wheeler.

"I have good reason to believe that Julie Wheeler has made disparaging remarks about me to individuals in the legal community," the former solicitor said.

Wheeler did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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Pokrifka, who was promoted to solicitor in the wake of Glenn Smith's departure in 2018, confirmed that she'd sent a letter of resignation last Monday and that her last day would be March 31. Days later, on March 15, a process server delivered the cease-and-desist letter to Wheeler.

York County Solicitor Michelle Pokrifka
Wednesday, September 16, 2020. 
John A. Pavoncello photo

The solicitor declined to provide specifics about what Wheeler said or to whom she said it. She also declined to provide a copy of the letter, adding that she's retained legal counsel to address the matter.

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A cease-and-desist letter, as explained by Pokrifka, is a warning that if an individual does not stop the specified behavior, legal action could be taken against them.

Any potential claims, Pokrifka said, would be against Wheeler in her capacity as an individual — not against the county nor in Wheeler's capacity as a commissioner. It is Pokrifka's belief that Wheeler has stopped since receiving the letter, she said.

"My integrity will not allow me to remain," Pokrifka said, about her exit from county government. "I wish the people that I'm leaving behind the best."

She declined further comment on the reasons behind her resignation.

When reached Monday, Commissioner Doug Hoke said he had no knowledge of the cease-and-desist letter or the circumstances surrounding it.

York County President Commissioner Julie Wheeler speaks during the Butterflies on the Lawn event at John Wright Restaurant in Wrightsville, Sunday, Sept. 25, 2022. Dawn J. Sagert/The York Dispatch

While there is an assistant solicitor, Deirdre Sullivan, it's not immediately known who will fill Pokrifka's role. The county began advertising for a solicitor last Friday, with a stated minimum salary of $94,019.

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"The County Solicitor is responsible for the day-to-day legal needs of County government operations, including the Commissioners, all County departments, boards, authorities, the York County Prison and Pleasant Acres Nursing & Rehabilitation Center," the job posting reads. "Responsibilities include, but are not limited to, rendering legal advice, providing representation before state and federal courts, as well as governmental agencies, drafting and negotiating legal documents, instruments, and ordinances, and developing and implementing policies and procedures."

— Reach Matt Enright via email at menright@yorkdispatch.com or via Twitter at @Matthew_Enright.