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Allegheny

Pittsburgh defense attorney left friend to die of overdose, police say

Megan Guza
| Tuesday, Feb. 13, 2018, 12:51 p.m.
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A well-known Pittsburgh defense attorney and his girlfriend left a friend to die in an apartment he owned in Squirrel Hill last year and then ditched his body in an alley, according to a criminal complaint unsealed this week.

Kevin Abramovitz, 37, is charged with witness intimidation, hindering apprehension, conspiracy, reckless endangerment, tampering with evidence, obstruction of justice, criminal mischief, two counts of theft and three drug violations.

Abramovitz was arrested Feb. 2 on the fifth floor of the Allegheny County Courthouse in Downtown Pittsburgh after a grand jury indicted him on the charges, though court documents filed against Abramovitz remained sealed until his formal arraignment Monday.

The investigation began with two anonymous calls to Pittsburgh police June 24 reporting a possible overdose victim near the intersection of Fair Oaks Street and Annette Way, according to the criminal complaint.

Officers found the body of an unidentified man in his 20s wrapped in a purple comforter in front of a garage on Annette Way, an alley, police wrote in the complaint.

The comforter was dry, though the surrounding area was damp.

Police found no identification on the man but did find pills and a stamp bag marked “Call of Duty” in his pocket.

Both callers gave the intersection as the location of the victim, although the man's position in the alley was impossible to see from the intersection, according to the complaint. Police said one would need “intimate knowledge” of the victim's location to report it.

Police also said that one of the calls was discovered to have been made with the victim's cellphone. Neither the location of the phone nor the identity of the caller was determined.

Officers interviewed four witnesses during the investigation, all of whom remained unnamed in the criminal complaint.

Witness 1 told police he or she had been with the victim the day before his death, and the victim said he was staying with Abramovitz, according to the complaint.

Witness 2 told police he or she had been with the victim during the day leading up to the fatal overdose as well as during the overdose, according to the complaint.

That person picked up the victim about 3 p.m. June 23, and the pair went to the North Hills home of Witness 3, police wrote. The three pooled their money to buy heroin, and Witness 2 and the victim went to Pittsburgh's Hill District in the victim's light blue Hyundai Santa Fe to make the drug deal.

They returned to the North Hills home and got high before Witness 2 and the victim went to a Squirrel Hill apartment owned by Abramovitz, police said. Abramovitz and his girlfriend, Danielle Smith, live about 10 minutes away.

Witness 2 said he and the victim hung out with Abramovitz and Smith for a little while, and then the couple left, according to the complaint.

The victim and the witness got high again, and both overdosed. The witness woke and found the victim unconscious. When CPR failed, the witness called Abramovitz and Smith. Smith arrived and tried CPR to no avail, police said, but noted the victim still had a pulse.

The witness repeatedly asked Abramovitz or Smith to call 911, but Abramovitz said he didn't want police to come to the apartment because they would all “get in trouble,” police wrote. Smith began rushing the witness around to collect their things, while Abramovitz and another woman talked outside the apartment.

Abramovitz and Smith said they would drive the witness home, and the witness said he or she did not see the victim again once they left the apartment, police said. Abramovitz told the witness he'd gotten someone to take the victim to the hospital.

According to police, as the three left, the witness “stated he/she wanted to go to the hospital to see the victim but Abramovitz and Smith refused …” They told the witness it “would be best not to talk to anyone” about what happened.

The witness left his or her cellphone in the apartment, and the couple refused to go back for it, police said.

The victim's Santa Fe was eventually reported stolen and found parked about three blocks from the scene.

Police arrested Smith on July 27 after she was found in possession of the anti-anxiety medication Xanax and methamphetamine, which were found to belong to Abramovitz, according to police.

Officers spoke to a fourth witness July 28, more than a month after the victim's body was found.

Witness 4 said Abramovitz told him or her about the overdose just hours after the victim was found, according to the complaint. Abramovitz spoke of moving the victim's SUV with Smith and wiping away any fingerprints and potential DNA, police said. He said they'd destroyed the victim's cellphone, as well as that of Witness 2.

Abramovitz also delivered alprazolam — the generic name for Xanax and similar medications — to Witness 4 and talked of “putting a bullet in (Witness 2's) head” because he or she knew too much, police wrote.

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

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