Former Heath employee held for court on extortion charge

 A Utica man accused of trying to extort $200,000 from his employer was held for court Wednesday following a preliminary hearing.

Scott Edmondson, 40, appeared before district judge Patrick Lowrey in Venango County Central Court.

Andrew Restauri, the vice president of operations for Heath Oil, provided testimony against Edmondson.

Assistant district attorney Justin Fleeger began his questioning by asking Restauri to detail the events surrounding an oil spill at the company on March 23.

Restauri said one of the company’s tanks had overflown and he was notified of the issue by a team member.

Edmondson worked an evening shift that day and another shift the next day before he called in sick on multiple occasions, Restauri said.

Restauri said Edmondson never returned to work and he did not hear from him until April 3, when Edmondson talked to Restauri on the phone.

During that phone conversation, Restauri said Edmondson told him he didn’t like how the company was being run and he was thinking about calling the Department of Environmental Protection to report the oil spill.

Exactly one week later, on April 10, Restauri said Edmondson called company owner Daniel Heath regarding a $200,000 fine that would come from the DEP if the spill was reported.

Two days later, Restauri said Heath called Edmondson while Restauri was conferenced into the call in the background.

Restauri testified he heard Edmondson talk about future losses being mitigated if a payment was made to him.

Restauri also referenced a text message Edmondson had sent to Heath talking about intel that had been gathered.

A copy of the text message was presented to the court, including to Edmondson’s defense attorney Charles Rosen.

On April 21, Restauri said a meeting was set up and Edmondson came to the company’s office in Victory Heights to drop off his fire resistant uniform and his keys. Restauri said Edmondson asked him if he had the package, but when Restauri said he needed more time, Edmondson allegedly left and said, “you have until Monday.”

The following Monday, Restauri said another meeting was set up with the assistance of Pennsylvania State Police and a trooper was present when Edmondson arrived shortly after 7:15 p.m.

Rosen requested that the felony charge of criminal attempt – theft/extortion – testify withholding testimony against Edmondson be dismissed because he felt the conduct did not fit the language of the charge, but Lowrey ordered the charge to be bound over for further proceedings.