Washington County Controller Escorted From Commission Meeting After Outburst



WASHINGTON, Pa. — Sheriff’s deputies escorted Washington County Controller April Sloane from Thursday morning’s commission meeting following an outburst during a heated exchange with a resident who was making a public comment.

While speaking about previous public comments that Sloane has made accusing county officials of misspending government money, Cecil Township resident AC Rowland called Sloane a “dog killer” in reference to felony charges of animal cruelty in connection with the Nov. 27 starvation death of her pet dog, Thor.

That prompted Sloane to stand up from her seat in the audience and ask for an opportunity to respond to Rowland’s comments before berating her as numerous residents and county officials looked on.

“You don’t know me. You don’t know the facts,” Sloane said.

Sloane then lobbed an accusation about one of her two teenage sons. Her youngest took photos of the malnourished dog and told investigators of the alleged neglect, while her older son created a Facebook page in December that publicized the photos and demanded Sloane be removed from office.

“He’s actually lying,” Sloane said, although she did not indicate which son she was speaking about.

“I’ve seen the pictures of the dead dog in there,” Rowland said from the lectern.

“They were altered on SnapChat,” Sloane said of the photo evidence posted on the social media platform showing Thor’s lifeless body in her residence.

“When you have a lawsuit against you for libel, enjoy it,” Sloane added.

That prompted Commission Chairman Nick Sherman to call for order before asking to briefly recess the meeting. He then told sheriff’s deputies in the room to escort both of them from the meeting. One deputy walked up to Sloane from behind and appeared to tap her on the shoulder in an attempt to defuse the situation. However, the two women continued to shout at each other, prompting Sherman to once again call for order and demand they leave.

“She came at me,” Rowland said. “I didn’t come at her.”

“Really?” Sloane responded.

Deputies escorted Rowland out of the meeting room, while Sloane was taken into an adjoining conference room.

“I need order in this meeting,” Sherman said. “I apologize for the outburst. We are going to have civility in this meeting. … This will not turn into a circus.”

Commissioner Larry Maggi said he was appalled that Sloane interrupted public comment and saddened by the lack of civility during the meeting.

“Mr. Chairman, we don’t always agree on everything, but I commend you for taking order of the meeting,” Maggi said of Sherman’s response to the situation. “An outburst like that is intolerable and should not be tolerated.”

Sloane was later permitted to return to the room and take her seat as controller for the retirement and salary board meetings following the regular voting meeting.

A video of the commissioners meeting was streamed live on the county’s YouTube page, although it was not known if an archived version will eventually be uploaded — as is typical — for people to watch a replay of the heated interaction.

Thursday’s incident added to the list of concerning behavior by Sloane since she was elected in November 2021 to the position of controller, which serves as Washington County’s chief oversight officer and performs audits on county departments.

In December 2022, she was cited for harassment after Cecil Township police said she threw a drink at a fellow partygoer at the Peters Township Republican Party’s annual Christmas party. She was later found not guilty by District Judge Lou McQuillan during a summary trial.

On Dec. 12 last year, Sloane was arrested and charged with two counts of felony animal cruelty and one misdemeanor charge of animal neglect after North Strabane police said they found the decaying carcass of her malnourished dog stuffed in a trash bag inside the garage of her Meadowbrook Drive townhouse during a search a week earlier. Investigators said a necropsy revealed the dog died Nov. 27 from “severe emaciation.”

Three days after she was arrested, county Treasurer Tom Flickinger sued Sloane over her demands that people who are owed tax refunds from the county government be required to fill out federal tax forms before receiving reimbursement.

Following her arrest in the animal neglect case, several high-ranking county officials — including many of her fellow Republicans — along with both the local GOP and Democratic committees called for Sloane’s resignation or removal from office, saying the charges against her make her unfit to serve as a public servant. Sloane has refused to resign, although she is up for reelection next year before her term expires in January 2026.

Sloane, 43, is free on $150,000 bond as she awaits trial in June on the animal abuse charges.

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