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State trooper suspended without pay is target of probe

| Monday, June 25, 2012, 3:21 p.m.
(Brian F. Henry | Tribune-Review)
Pennsylvania State Police Cpl. Robert Stauffer (Brian F. Henry | Tribune-Review)

State police suspended a top investigator at the Greensburg barracks without pay on Monday, saying he's the target of a probe.

Agency spokeswoman Maria Finn confirmed the suspension of Cpl. Robert W. Stauffer, 52, of Adamsburg, adding only that his removal from the Greensburg barracks is “part of an ongoing investigation.”

Reached by the Tribune-Review, Stauffer said, “I can't comment on any allegations against me.”

Stauffer, who has not been criminally charged, was serving under Lt. Paul R. DeStefano as a crime unit supervisor at the Greensburg headquarters. There, he had been working on white-collar crimes, large thefts of money or property, violent crimes and long probes, according to police records released to the Trib through a state Right-to-Know request.

He also was assigned to the Greensburg barracks' elite Special Emergency Response Team, or SERT, as a hostage negotiator. DeStefano, didn't return telephone calls seeking comment.

In recent years, the Greensburg crime unit has targeted suspects alleged to be major drug dealers. Troopers in 2010 shut down a Scott Township marijuana distribution operation run by Alfred Argiro, 27.

Last June, Stauffer's SERT team raided the Hempfield home of reputed Pagans Motorcycle Club boss Dennis “Rooster” Katona, seizing an estimated $20,000 worth of narcotics. The trial for Katona, who posted a $500,000 bond, has been continued twice over the past year.

A longtime trooper hired in 1989, Stauffer was decorated in 1991 for responding to the Camp Hill Prison riots.

Last year, he earned $107,244 — similar to what he made in 2010 — according to state police pay records.

Leaders of the Pennsylvania State Troopers Association, the union that represents Stauffer, said they were surprised to learn that Stauffer was the target of an investigation and had been suspended without pay.

“The PSTA has not received any information on this matter. However, as a policy we do not comment on private personnel matters,” said union President Joseph Kovel.

Carl Prine is a reporter for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7826 or cprine@tribweb.com.

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