Jailed Park Owner Gets Chance for Freedom
Jailed campground owner Thomas Peckham agreed on Nov. 19 to withdraw his appeal in his contempt case — the first step in the process for Erie County Judge Shad Connelly to reconsider his ruling that sent the 71-year-old Peckham to the Erie County Prison Oct. 3.
Peckham wants Connelly to release him from prison, waive more than $33,000 in fines a let him enter into a $100-a-week payment plan for his costs of more than $3,000, the Erie Times-News reported.
Connelly said Wednesday he would reconsider the fines and costs once Peckham dropped his appeal to state Superior Court, a move that Connelly said took jurisdiction away from him.
Peckham’s lawyer, Bruce Sandmeyer, told Connelly he would withdraw the appeal.
Connelly jailed Peckham after he operated his Moon Meadows Campground, in Greenfield Township, in defiance of the state Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) and a court order from Connelly.
The DEP had ordered the campground closed because Peckham was using more water hookups than allowed under state law. The DEP had also tangled with Peckham over its claims he had failed to improve the campground’s sewage system. Peckham said the campground was safe.
Connelly said he would release Peckham once the campground closed and Peckham paid the fines and costs. The DEP has confirmed that the campground is no longer operating. That finding led Peckham — who recently hired a lawyer — to seek a modification of the payment of the fines and costs. He filed the request on Nov. 6.