Former Pa. lawyer who shot dead fellow hunter pleads guilty to being felon in possession of firearms

By Jon Campisi | Mar 20, 2013

Federal authorities this week announced the guilty plea of a former suburban

Philadelphia lawyer who shot a man to death during a hunting outing.

David Manilla, of Worcester, Montgomery County, pleaded guilty on March 18, but not to the death of Barry Groh.

That had previously already occurred.

Rather, the since-disbarred attorney admitted to possessing firearms despite the fact that he was ineligible to do so under federal law due to a 1985 aggravated assault conviction for beating another man.

Manilla, 51, pleaded guilty to possession of firearms by a convicted felon, which could get him up to a decade behind bars.

He also faces a fine of up to $250,000, three years of supervised release, and a $100 special assessment, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, which announced the guilty plea.

U.S. District Court Judge Jan E. DuBois has scheduled a sentencing hearing for June 27.

Manilla shot Groh, 52, of Quakertown, Pa., during the opening day of hunting season in November 2010, according to past news reports.

Not only did Manilla use a high-powered rifle that is illegal to use for hunting in Bucks County, but he shouldn’t have been in possession of any firearm in the first place due to his past felony conviction.

Convicted felons are prohibited under federal law from owning and using guns for the rest of their lives.

A Bucks County Common Pleas Court judge had previously sentenced Manilla to 10 to 25 years in state prison following the former lawyer’s guilty plea to involuntary manslaughter.

The sentence was appealed, but a state Superior Court panel subsequently upheld the trial court’s decision, according to a report in Allentown’s Morning Call newspaper.

A June 2012 Morning Call article quoted Bucks County Deputy District Attorney Bob James as saying that the appeals court affirmed the trial judge’s sentence as proper due to the aggravating factors in the case, such as the fact that Manilla had used a high-powered rifle illegally, that he possessed the gun illegally, and that he and his hunting partners had shown no remorse in Groh’s death.

The case made major headlines after it was discovered that Manilla sought the aid of his uncle, former Montgomery County District Attorney Michael Marino, in trying to cover up the crime.

Marino was never charged with any crime.

The feds, however, went on to investigate how Manilla was able to get his hands on various firearms despite his past felony conviction.

During his sentencing in Bucks County Court in July 2011, Manilla called the shooting an “unfortunate accident,” the Morning Call had reported.

Court records from the Disciplinary Board of the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania show that Manilla was disbarred on consent in October 2011.

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