Judge Sends Amish Man to Jail
EBENSBURG, CAMBRIA COUNTY - An Amish man will serve jail time for failing to bring two outhouses into compliance with sewage regulations.
Cambria County judge Norman Krumenacker ordered Andy Swartzentruber to spend 90 days in jail and pay a $1,000 fine.
Swartzentruber is a member of an ultra-conservative Amish sect from Barr Township. He owns the land on which a schoolhouse and two outhouses sit. Amish elders worked with the county to try and reach a compromise. Ultimately they said they could not take part in the testing process required when human waste is spread on fields.
"It seems like they could have complied with the law, that it wouldn't take that much of an intrusion into their beliefs. But they drew a line in the sand and said we're not doing the testing, we're not filing the applications, and we have a duty to enforce those sewage rules," William Gleason-Barbin, attorney for the sewage enforcement agency said.
Swartzentruber told his attorney whatever happened would be God's will.
"They're very religious, and I respect them for that. They're willing to accept the consequences of this," defense attorney James Stratton said.
In addition to the fine and jail time, Krumenacker ordered the school padlocked. He said anyone who tried to get in would be charged with trespass.
Swartzentruber will be released from jail if the outhouses are brought into compliance. His attorney is now concerned with how Swartzentruber will be treated by the general prison population.
"I fear that's going to be a problem for him. I'm going to talk to the warden and see if there's some kind of accommodations they can make for him. I think it could be very difficult," Stratton said.
Members of the sect could be back in court later this month. Two couples recently built new homes and outhouses on the property without going through the proper permitting process. In January, Krumenacker signed off on an injunction, giving Joely and Mary Swartzentruber and John and Susan Miller 60 days to comply with permitting and inspection requirements.