Pennsylvania bar president resigns over prostitution charge

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(Reuters) – The president of the Pennsylvania Bar Association resigned from his post this week after he was charged with patronizing a prostitute.

David Schwager, a partner at Chariton, Schwager & Malak in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, was charged with a misdemeanor on Tuesday after he allegedly engaged the services of a prostitute in December 2019. He allegedly told Luzerne County police he was the victim of an extortion scheme.

According to court records, Schwager said the woman he paid to have sex with threatened to release a video of their sexual activity unless he paid between $700 and $1,000. The woman, Emily Merth, has been charged with prostitution and related offenses, theft by extortion and sexual extortion.

Schwager resigned from his position as president of the state bar association on Tuesday, executive director Barry Simpson said in a statement.

“While the charge is troubling, every person accused of a crime is considered innocent until proven guilty, and we have confidence in the operation of our justice system,” Simpson said.

Simpson said the bar association’s president-elect, Kathleen Wilkinson, a Philadelphia-based employment and labor partner at Wilson Elser, will now take over as president.

The group’s leadership team “is extremely well-versed on the many initiatives, programs and activities of this association and will carry forward as planned,” he said.

Schwager, who has an active general business and transactional practice, did not respond to a request for comment, nor did the Luzerne County District Attorney. Schwager’s criminal defense attorney, Frank Nocito, declined to comment.

A preliminary hearing in Schwager’s case has been set for June 15. Merth, who is already incarcerated at Lehigh County Jail in Allentown, allegedly told police she recorded Schwager without his knowledge or consent.