Former McKeesport police lieutenant waives charges in gambling ring
By Michael DiVittorio
Published: Friday, Sept. 27, 2013, 5:01 a.m.
A former McKeesport police lieutenant charged in connection with an alleged Mon Valley gambling ring waived his case to court on Thursday.
Arthur Pero, 56, of McKeesport waived charges of lotteries at Forest Hills Magisterial District Judge Thomas Caulfield's office.
Charges against Pero stem from his alleged involvement in an illegal gambling operation said to be led by Ronald “Porky” Melocchi Sr., owner of Glassport-based Back Alley Vending.
Pero is accused of accepting lottery bets on two occasions from an undercover state trooper at the Coffee Pot, a former city business controlled by Melocchi and run by several others also charged with gambling-related crimes.
Pero's attorney, James Anderson Crosby, could not be reached for comment.
The investigation by the Attorney General's Organized Crime Section and state police centered around Melocchi from October 2012 through Dec. 10, 2012, in what was called Operation Pork Chop. Melocchi is accused of installing, servicing and maintaining gambling devices in bars, restaurants and other locations.
Pero was working for the department during the time of the investigation. He retired on July 20, having served for at least 20 years.
His formal arraignment is scheduled for Nov. 14 at 11 a.m.
Authorities seized 354 video machines, many of which were made illegal by the presence of “knock-off” switches and internal meters. More than $1 million was seized.
Pero and Melocchi were among 16 people formally arraigned in Caulfield's chambers on Sept. 4. They were released on nonmonetary bond on condition they be fingerprinted at Pittsburgh Municipal Court on Oct. 2.
Other suspects who have waived their cases to court are Timothy Minkus, 31, of West Mifflin and Eugene “Red” Kowalski, 65, of North Huntingdon Township.
Minkus waived charges of dealing in proceeds of illegal activity, lotteries, gambling devices, conspiracy and corrupt organizations. His formal arraignment is scheduled for Oct. 30 at 11 a.m.
Kowalski waived charges of dealing in proceeds of illegal gambling activity, corrupt organizations, gambling devices and conspiracy. His formal arraignment is scheduled for Oct. 21 at 11 a.m.
Michael DiVittorio is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-664-9161, ext. 1965, or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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