| Home

Larger text Larger text Smaller text Smaller text | Order Photo Reprints

State police promote sergeant after lawsuits

Email Newsletters

Click here to sign up for one of our email newsletters.

Daily Photo Galleries

Friday, May 20, 2011

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.

Subscribe today! Click here for our subscription offers.




Show commenting policy

Most-Read Stories

  1. Feds aim to bring Chinese military leaders to Pittsburgh for trial
  2. South Fayette extends winning streak in dominating fashion
  3. Freeport takes chances, cashes in during shutout of Highlands
  4. State woos Kennametal with $1M in incentives to stay in Pa.
  5. Penn-Trafford QB Laffoon sets career TD pass mark in rout of Hempfield
  6. Valley relies on run game to avenge last year’s loss to West Shamokin
  7. Pirates say goodbye to veteran leaders Burnett, Ramirez
  8. Mt. Lebanon still unbeaten after 98-yard INT return sparks rally vs. Bethel Park
  9. Norwin takes control in 2nd half, upends Kiski Area
  10. Brown’s return makes difference for Apollo-Ridge in victory over Shady Side Academy
  11. Belle Vernon tops Ringgold in battle of unbeatens