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Homestead mayor says council engaged in 'witch hunt'

| Tuesday, April 2, 2013, 3:51 a.m.

Homestead Mayor Betty Esper and Teamsters Local 205 secretary-treasurer Carl Bailey said they believe some council members are engaging in a witch hunt against borough police officers.

Following council's two-hour executive session for personnel matters on Monday, the mayor said that some councilors don't want the police officers to do their jobs.

“Instead of supporting us, they're always criticizing the police department,” Esper said.

The executive session began around 6 p.m. The public meeting was advertised to begin at 7 but was not called to order until 8:18, and council did not take any action on business.

“No business came before council,” borough solicitor Bernie Schneider said.

Bailey, police Chief Jeff DeSimone and other police officers were called into the closed-door session.

Councilors reportedly were questioning police behavior during a prostitution bust on March 22 along Sarah Street.

“I think they're on a witch hunt,” Bailey said.

Steel Valley Magisterial At a preliminary hearing on Wednesday for Diana Gross, 26, District Judge Thomas R. Torkowsky held for court charges of promoting prostitution, criminal use of a communication facility and possession of drug paraphernalia.

Charges against Alisa Jones of disorderly conduct were moved to nontraffic court in connection with the same incident.

Charges of resisting arrest and possession of drug paraphernalia were withdrawn.

Police said the two women were promoting prostitution via posts on a Pittsburgh website.

“We're doing our job,” DeSimone said. “Why we're being brought here because we're doing our job is beyond me.”

Bailey was visibly frustrated after Monday's discussion.

“This is (expletive), calling this meeting,” Bailey said. “You're going to sit back and judge what these guys do on a daily basis. That's wrong. I said (to council), ‘What you do is get the Crimes Code and you pick out the articles that you want us to enforce and not enforce and that's what we'll do.'

“They're questioning a possibility of conduct unbecoming a police officer. Their final comment was, ‘We were concerned about officer safety with exposure to sexual diseases.'”

Council members declined to comment about the executive session.

Michael DiVittorio is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-664-9161, ext. 1965, or mdivittorio@tribweb.com.

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