John Weinstein’s ties to judge, staff emerge in lawsuit amid exec race

Allegheny County Treasurer John Weinstein (right) speaks during a county executive candidate forum on Feb. 18, 2023. (Photo by Charlie Wolfson/PublicSource)
Judicial hires, campaign contributions and a lawsuit shed light on the county treasurer’s influence as he runs for executive.

John Weinstein, Allegheny County’s treasurer and now a leading candidate for county executive, lent his name and support two years ago to a successful judicial candidate, who went on to hire two staffers with ties to the mother of two children with Weinstein.

The candidate, Sabrina Korbel, won election as an Allegheny County Common Pleas judge in 2021 and quickly hired two people with ties to Weinstein to work in her chambers. One is J. Allen Roth, an attorney who clerks for Korbel. The other is Emanuel “Mani” Snyder, a son of Shanni Snyder. Shanni Snyder and Weinstein have two other children.

Weinstein’s tie to Roth emerged in a lawsuit filed in February, which centers around business dealings of Shanni Snyder and her family, and includes her as a defendant, along with her brothers Kash and George Snyder, and Roth. A White Oak businesswoman filed the lawsuit in federal court under the federal Racketeering Influenced Corrupt Organizations Act. It aims for monetary damages, not criminal penalties, but to prevail, civil RICO plaintiffs must typically establish that an organization is corrupt and has engaged in a pattern of criminal conduct.

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In the lawsuit, plaintiffs allege that Shanni Snyder conspired with her siblings to file a fraudulent wage dispute to ultimately seize control of a Westmoreland County property. Latrobe-based attorney Roth has represented the Snyders’ business, called U LOCK, in relation to the dispute and related bankruptcy filings — without, so far, charging them for the bankruptcy work — while serving as Korbel’s clerk.  

Weinstein said he wrote a letter of recommendation for Emanuel Snyder, but said, “I personally did not have any involvement with any other hire of Judge Korbel’s professional staff.” 

The man Weinstein hopes to replace, outgoing County Executive Rich Fitzgerald, said talk of the treasurer’s political influence has “swirled around the courthouse for many years.”

In a response filed in the racketeering lawsuit, George Snyder (Shanni’s brother and a controller of U LOCK) said he was representing himself and said he would need more time and information to “clear up the bunkum” in the suit, which he referred to as “50 pages of flapdoodle.” 

He also appeared to suggest that the filing of the suit might have ulterior motives: “I think I see what’s going on here since reporters started ringing before this case even appeared on the public docket,” he wrote.

Weinstein boosted, contributed to judicial candidate

In an election-season ad for Korbel in early 2021, Weinstein said, “I don’t normally do this, appear in a television commercial for a judicial candidate, but this time it’s different, because I feel so strongly about it, that Sabrina stands alone in making a lasting impact.”

“Sabrina Korbel has done more for women and families in Allegheny County than anyone I know,” Weinstein said in the ad. Korbel is the former legal director of the Women’s Center & Shelter of Greater Pittsburgh.

Weinstein’s campaign made a $10,000 contribution to Korbel’s “Team Sabrina” campaign committee in February of that year, according to Weinstein’s finance disclosure from that year. 

Korbel declined to speak with a reporter when reached by phone, citing courthouse policy, and she did not respond to a list of questions sent to her. She later gave a brief response via email: “My hiring decisions were made independently based upon my own judgment and consideration of the candidates. I will not provide comments with respect to specific personnel matters as those matters are confidential.”

In a text response to questions for this story, Weinstein identified Emanuel Snyder as “a graduate of Chatham University and besides being an extremely bright, talented, and a diligently dependable individual, he’s also very interested in the judicial system. I advised Emanuel there were some jobs that may be available and wrote him a letter of recommendation.”

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