Trial Begins for Man Charged with Blocking Road

CLEARFIELD – A Clearfield County jury will decide Tuesday whether an 83-year-old Pike Township man obstructed a township road when he parked his backhoe in that area last summer.

The commonwealth’s case against Chester Ogden alleges that on July 28, 2006, Ogden parked a piece of heavy equipment across a road designated as township road 504. Ogden contends that TR 504 ends near his home, and the backhoe was not parked on the public road.

A 1986 court decision ruled that TR 504 would connect township road 417 with a property owned by Lester and Betty Neeper – through property owned by Ogden – thereby making the road public.

Ogden has spent the past 25 years fighting the road’s designation as public.

Perhaps the most startling incident of those 25 years came on Feb. 8, 1989, when Ogden entered the Clearfield County Courthouse at 9 a.m. with the intention of speaking with then-Clearfield County Senior Judge John A. Cherry, according to reports published in The Progress at that time.

When Cherry refused the meeting, Ogden pulled a loaded .38-caliber handgun from his coat and brandished it.

The story also reported that The Progress along with Clearfield radio station WCPA, DuBois newspaper The Courier-Express and the state police at Clearfield received eight-page letters outlining Ogden’s plan to kidnap the judge and hold him hostage until his four pending civil cases were heard before a jury of veterans.

Ogden is a veteran of World War II.

A jury subsequently found Ogden guilty of criminal attempt to commit unlawful restraint, simple assault, terroristic threats and other counts. He was found not guilty on charges of criminal attempt to commit kidnapping and threats made to interfere in official matters.

He was sentenced to serve up to seven years in jail.

The case before the court Tuesday is being heard before J. Michael Williamson of Clinton County. Clearfield County President Judge Fredric J. Ammerman was the district attorney at the time of the kidnapping trial. Clearfield County Judge Paul E. Cherry is the son of Judge John A. Cherry.
Ogden is representing himself in the case, and Williamson reminded him several times that he is not to interrupt proceedings. Williamson told him Tuesday morning that he was in direct criminal contempt of the day’s proceedings, and the next time Ogden interrupted, a jail sentence would be imposed.

The case continued Tuesday afternoon with more witnesses being called to testify. The case is scheduled to wrap up Tuesday.

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