HOLLIDAYSBURG - Retired businessman and former substitute teacher Byron Lasser was sentenced Tuesday to one year's probation for assaulting Hollidaysburg Area school board Vice President Darlee Sill after Hollidaysburg's graduation ceremony in June.
Lasser, 66, pleaded no-contest to a simple assault charge as a result of a plea bargain. He was charged by Hollidaysburg Borough police with aggravated assault because of Sill's status as a public official performing his duty at a school event.
Lasser apologized in court for grabbing Sill at the graduation.
"How could I do such a stupid thing? Three hours [after the incident], I called the plaintiff to apologize. I issued a public apology in the Mirror. I pray I don't put my family through anything like that again," Lasser said. "I hope this sentencing today ends this episode in my life."
President Judge Timothy S. Searer of Mifflin County also ordered Lasser to pay $30 per month for the cost of officer supervision, the cost of his prosecution, a $300 fine and restitution, if any, that Sill may make to the Office of Victim Services in the next 20 days.
Searer handled the case because Sill, a lawyer in the area, presented a conflict of interest for Blair County judges.
Sill was not present for the plea and sentencing, but sent a letter to Searer requesting 30 days for the possibility of seeking restitution. Searer instead allowed Sill 20 days to determine restitution because at 30 days he no longer has jurisdiction of the case, he said.
"I feel the sentencing was a fair resolution for both sides," Blair County District Attorney Richard Consiglio said.
Consiglio said he contacted Sill three times to invite him to the sentencing and spoke with him by direct phone call, he informed Searer.
"I was under the impression he was going to be here," Consiglio said.
"I have not heard if, or what restitution there could be," he said after the sentencing.
Lasser would have an opportunity to object to restitution claims Sill may make, defense attorney Theodore Krol said.
In his sentencing, Searer considered Lasser's status as a reputable businessman, that he had "never been in trouble in his life" and was a substitute teacher.
But Searer did not downplay the gravity of Lasser's actions.
"This was a high school graduation - not a place for a 66-year-old man and other adults to engage in such reckless conduct," he said. "But I feel comfortable in saying I don't think this will happen again."
Since the incident, Lasser has participated in anger management counseling, Krol said.
At least a dozen area business leaders were present Tuesday to support Lasser.
Mirror Staff Writer Russ O'Reilly is at 946-7435.