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Charges dropped against former fugitive

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Traveling by Jeep, boat and foot, Tribune-Review investigative reporter Carl Prine and photojournalist Justin Merriman covered nearly 2,000 miles over two months along the border with Mexico to report on coyotes — the human traffickers who bring illegal immigrants into the United States. Most are Americans working for money and/or drugs. This series reports how their operations have a major impact on life for residents and the environment along the border — and beyond.

By R.A. Monti
Saturday, July 20, 2013, 12:01 a.m.
 

On the run for the last six years, Frank Wilson Rawson can quit looking over his shoulder.

Rawson, 55, of McKeesport had been wanted in New Kensington since 2007 on 13 charges, the most serious of which are drunken driving, resisting arrest and fleeing police, according to court documents.

Rawson never showed up to his June 2007 preliminary hearing and hadn't been seen since.

That is, according to New Kensington police, until he was pulled over by Penn Hills police earlier this month for a minor traffic infraction.

When police ran a record check on Rawson, they arrested him and sent him to Westmoreland County jail.

But that's the only jail time Rawson will have to do for his 2007 infractions, according to New Kensington police.

According to the Westmoreland County District Attorney's Office, the charges had to be dropped on Rawson because of a “due diligence rule.”

“Under the law, there has to be a continued effort to catch the suspect,” Assistant District Attorney James Lazar. “Because there wasn't a continued effort, we had no choice but to drop the charges.

“He fled to California and wasn't pursued.”

New Kensington Police Sgt. Dino DiGiacobbe said the department knew where Rawson was; they just couldn't get him to Pennsylvania.

“We knew he was in California,” said DiGiacobbe, the officer who arrested Rawson in 2007. “But his charges weren't severe enough to have him extradited back here.

Other than his pending traffic citation, Rawson is now a free man, DiGiacobbe said.

R.A. Monti is a freelance writer.

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