Weeks to take on DA duties
Consiglio begins retirement, retained as special prosecutor
HOLLIDAYSBURG — Blair County will have a new district attorney starting Wednesday.
First Assistant District Attorney Pete Weeks is moving into the top job as longtime DA Richard Consiglio begins his retirement.
Consiglio will be retained as a special prosecutor, Weeks said, for eight of his current cases in which he’s deeply entrenched.
But the rest of the responsibilities associated with being the district attorney and running a county office will fall to Weeks and his staff.
“There’s a lot more to this job than just understanding the law,” said the 40-year-old Weeks, who took on more responsibility in 2017 when he became first assistant district attorney, a job vacated when Jackie Bernard became a county judge.
Weeks, who came to Blair County in 2007 when he was hired to prosecute drug cases, said he was fortunate to work with Consiglio and Bernard who mentored him.
“Working with both of them has been such as amazing opportunity,” Weeks said. “Not only to learn about the law, but also about the things that you can’t learn from a law book.”
That includes how to advocate for victims, Weeks said, referring to a trait for which Consiglio is known. And it includes attention to details, something that Bernard was very good at, according to Weeks.
Retiring Victim/Witness Director Sue Griep, who has worked with Weeks over the years, expects Weeks to do well as district attorney.
“He definitely cares about the community in which he lives,” she said. “And he wants all of us to live in a safe community, too.”
Griep said Weeks also has leadership skills, the kind that will move the office forward and allow him to make his own mark in the county.
“I think it’s going to be exciting to see where Pete takes the office,” she said.
Weeks said he will follow Consiglio’s example when it comes to office management and prosecuting cases, too.
“District Attorney Consiglio has led by example,” Weeks said. “He’s not just a figurehead and I don’t plan on being anything less.”
When the office was short of prosecuting attorneys in 2018-19, Weeks said his workload went up to about 500 cases. It’s about 300 now, he said, based on current staffing and seasoned prosecutors like Nichole Smith and Derek Elensky.
Something the new district attorney would like to pursue is more education endeavors with youth on subjects like drug crimes, social media risks, bullying, child pornography, sexting and human trafficking.
While Blair County has a lot of good programs, Weeks said he believes more people need to be involved.
“What happened a month ago was a wake-up call for parents,” Weeks said in reference to the shooting death of 15-year-old Devon Pfirshing in Altoona. As a result, Altoona police filed first- and second-degree murder charges against three Altoona teenagers for their roles in the shooting that allegedly developed from plans to rob Pfirshing of marijuana.
While the criminal charges against the trio will move forward, Weeks said it is education efforts that can influence the future.
“We as a community, and the DA’s office as a part of the community, we need to work together,” Weeks said. “And if we can divert youths from committing crimes, then everyone should be happy about that.”
Commissioner Laura Burke said she met with Weeks late last year, after she won the November election. She said they discussed the status of the district attorney’s office and its leadership transition.
“I think he’s going to be great in the position,” Burke said. “He has a lot of good ideas … and with the coronavirus crisis we’ve been in, I think he’s been cooperative and willing to work with others.”
Burke also praised Weeks’ pursuit of a new software program to manage criminal case files, something she sees as a way to improve efficiency and allow the office to “catch up” with practices in other counties.
When Consiglio announced his retirement plans in November, he reference Weeks as having the experience and temperament to serve the county well.
“He is a true professional law and order prosecutor,” Consiglio said.
Mirror Staff Writer Kay Stephens is at 946-7456.
The Weeks file
Name: Pete Weeks
Title: District Attorney starting April 1
Residence: Antis Township
Education: 2005 Juris Doctorate degree from the University of Pittsburgh School of Law, 2002 bachelor’s degree in political science from Penn State.