The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

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September 30, 2013

How the father of a man threatened with gun violence stayed the aggressor's sentence

EBENSBURG — A Johnstown man sidestepped a stay in prison Monday after the father of a man he threatened to shoot told the judge that a long probation period would suffice.

“You should consider this family the best friends you have. He just kept you out of jail,” Cambria County Judge David Tulowitzki told James Cleveland George.

George, 55, of the 300 block of Moore Street in the city’s Prospect section, was charged with aggravated assault, terroristic threats, reckless endangerment and attempted simple assault after he put a gun to the head of the son of his neighbor.

Police said on April 24 George put the gun to the head of Joseph Barr Jr., but Barr shoved the .357 Magnum away, causing it to discharge.

Joseph Barr Sr., who represented his son in the courtroom, became emotional as he recounted the incident for the judge, noting how close his son came to being shot.

George and the Barr family have lived beside one another for a number of years and the incident occurred after the defendant and victim began arguing.

The defendant entered a plea agreement several weeks ago to a single misdemeanor charge, a deal Tulowitzki questioned Monday.

“This seems to be a very generous plea by the commonwealth,” the judge said.

“Normally, I would not accept this – bringing a loaded gun into a situation ups the ante significantly, especially when it (the gun) goes off,” he said.

Cambria County Assistant District Attorney Beth Bolton Penna said that the victim did not want to testify against George, even at the preliminary hearing.

His concern was that George not be allowed to have guns in his house, have no contact with the victim and have a long period of probation, she said.

Tulowitzki complied, sentencing George to five years probation during which time he cannot possess or own a firearm, or have any contact with the victim.

George also must pay $800 restitution to the victim for lost wages following the incident.

Kathy Mellott is a courthouse reporter with The Tribune-Democrat. Follow her on Twitter at www.Twitter.com/KathyMellottTD.

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