State police promote sergeant after lawsuits
Six weeks after spending $675,000 to settle lawsuits claiming he smeared whistle-blowers and unlawfully peeked at telephone records, the Pennsylvania State Police promoted Sgt. Keith Jones to lieutenant.
Jones, chief of the state police's Internal Affairs Division in Pittsburgh, will transfer to the Washington barracks, according to an internal announcement obtained by the Tribune-Review.
In an August letter to police, Dauphin County First Assistant District Attorney Francis Chardo wrote that he would not prosecute Jones for obtaining a 2009 search warrant dogged by "serious" and "intentional" omissions of facts, pending the outcome of an internal probe.
Chardo told the Trib that the state police recently cleared Jones, who used the warrant to track the personal phone calls of Lt. Jeffrey Shaw, his boss at internal affairs.
"I don't think that he had any improper motive,"said Chardo, who had no problem with the promotion. "In fact, the investigation found that he begged not to be given the assignment. Yes, it was a bad search warrant. The probable-cause affidavit omitted important facts, but it wasn't obtained for the purposes of a criminal intent."
Messages seeking comment went unreturned Thursday from Jones, state police officials, Gov. Tom Corbett's staff and Westmoreland County District Attorney John W. Peck, who approved the search warrant.
The warrant stemmed from a 2008 investigation by Fayette County Child and Youth Services into allegations that a prominent businessman had molested an infant there.
In a federal lawsuit, Shaw, 52, of North Huntingdon claimed that the state police quashed the probe because the unnamed businessman had political connections and provided perks to authorities. Instead of going after the businessman, Shaw alleged that Jones and his now-retired superiors -- Deputy Commissioner John Brown, Maj. Charles Skurkis and Capt. Willard Oliphant -- threatened him with criminal charges and the loss of his pension.
A separate lawsuit by ex-Trooper Cheryl Amodei-Mascara, 48, of Washington claimed that Skurkis, Oliphant and Jones retaliated against her following suspicions that she had injected herself into the molestation investigation.
Jones had sought the phone records to prove Amodei-Mascara and Shaw had talked. The businessman was never charged, and Shaw and Amodei-Mascara retired.
According to paperwork obtained by the Trib through the state's Right-to-Know Law, Shaw, Amodei-Mascara and their downtown attorney, Susan Mahood, split a $675,000 settlement after agreements were inked in late March and early April.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Starkey: Chryst a miserable failure at Pitt
- Ex-Penguins defenseman Niskanen still miffed by coaches’ firings
- Pitt players support Rudolph for job
- Steelers’ Bell, Chiefs’ Charles elevating running back position in NFL
- Pitt football fights to overcome steppingstone status
- Pouliot scores in NHL debut as Penguins tame Panthers
- Pair of NYC officers killed in ambush shooting
- Jeannette company’s miniature steam engines coveted for decades
- Steelers notebook: Bell says he’s prepared to test Chiefs defense
- South Fayette football team distributes Steelers tickets to Carlynton, Wilkinsburg
- Minor league report: Other prospects on Penguins’ radar