Gregory Hill wasn't in Chester County Court to take issue with his federal probationary sentence for payroll-tax fraud.

The 49-year-old builder wasn't even contesting his $20,000 fine or the nearly $80,000 he paid in restitution.

His gripe: Google.

Hill's attorney, Jeffrey Sotland, asked Chester County Court Judge William P. Mahon on Monday to order the search-engine giant to block a November 2005 news release on Hill's case from appearing on Google.

The release from the U.S. Attorney's Office Web site, which announced Hill's arrest on charges that he paid some transient workers under the table for two years, creates a potential embarrassment for Hill and his family, Sotland argued - especially because in certain searches, the release is listed first.

Hill's plea for a lower profile, which occurred in a standing-room-only courtroom, went nowhere fast.

The judge quickly pointed out that he had no authority to intervene. Because Hill, of Devon, has not sued Google, it is not a party to any litigation before the judge.

"I don't intend to sign an order that can be disregarded - and legally so," Mahon said, suggesting that Sotland contact Google again.

Sotland countered that an e-mail from Google indicated that a lawsuit could be avoided.

The e-mail said: "You are correct in that a court order would be sufficient in us removing from our search results the press release concerning your client."

It was signed with regards from "The Google Team."

Mahon was unmoved, repeating that a court order with no legal authority could be legally ignored.

Sotland said yesterday that he had not yet consulted with Hill about what, if anything, to do next.

Since the filing of Hill's petition in September - and without any prompting - the news release disappeared from the U.S. Attorney's Office site. Rich Manieri, a spokesman for the office, cited routine purging at the end of 2006 that removed the previous year's material.

But that doesn't necessarily close the case.

Due to the vagaries of the Internet, information can linger long after its removal.

There is, however, good news for someone with a common moniker like Hill.

Googling his name produces more than 33,000 hits, most of which have nothing to do with a man who says "he has accepted his responsibility for his actions and is moving forward . . .."

Contact staff writer Kathleen Brady Shea at 610-701-7625

or kbrady@phillynews.com.