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Allegheny

State Rep. Gergely, Pittsburgh attorney plead guilty to gambling ring involvement

Megan Guza
| Tuesday, Aug. 15, 2017, 11:42 a.m.
State Rep. Marc Gergely
Cindy Shegan Keeley | Tribune-Review
State Rep. Marc Gergely

State Rep. Marc Gergely pleaded guilty Tuesday to two misdemeanor charges related to his part in an illegal gambling machine ring.

Gergely, a White Oak Democrat representing the 35th District in eastern Allegheny County, pleaded guilty to conspiracy and accepting illegal campaign contributions related to the March 2016 charges filed by the state Attorney General's office.

Pittsburgh attorney Louis Caputo also pleaded guilty in the same hearing, to one count of criminal solicitation related to illegal gambling devices.

Caputo, originally facing two additional charges of conspiracy and dealing in illegal gambling devices, was sentenced to five years of probation. Sentencing for Gergely, who remains in office, is set for Nov. 6.

House Democratic Leader Frank Dermody said Tuesday afternoon that he'd not yet spoken with Gergely about what comes next for the representative.

“It's good that (Gergely) took responsibility for his conduct by admitting to his harmful actions, and he will soon face the judgement of the court,” Dermody said in a statement. “That's the right result.”

The attorney and state representative were charged during a state investigation into Ronald “Porky” Melocchi, who ran an illegal gambling ring through his Glassport business, Back Alley Vending.

The 2016 statewide grand jury indictment alleged Gergely used his position and influence to attempt to assuage the fears of business owners who were leery of putting Melocchi's gambling machines in their establishments.

The saga dates to Oct. 10, 2012, when Gergely and Caputo sat down with McKeesport restaurant owner Theresa Ploskina to vouch for Melocchi, whom Gergely called “a good guy” with whom to do business, according to the indictment. Ploskina's Dot's Family Restaurant had been raided three times for illegal machines, and she'd been arrested and fined.

Melocchi called Gergely and Caputo his “super PAC” — heavy-hitters who carried enough clout to persuade small business owners to allow the machines in their businesses.

Officials had Melocchi's cellphone tapped and recorded him boasting about Gergely and Caputo's work for him. The indictment alleged that Caputo used a source deep within the Bureau of Liquor Control Enforcement to identify a man who repeatedly ratted out Ploskina.

Melocchi's ring was worth more than $1 million when authorities raided it in 2013. He pleaded guilty in 2014 and was sentenced last year to 10 years of probation.

Megan Guza is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach her at 412-380-8519, mguza@tribweb.com or via Twitter at @meganguzaTrib.

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