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Holtzman, others waive gambling cases

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Thursday, Oct. 3, 2013, 11:09 a.m.

Forward Township police Chief Mark Holtzman and three others facing criminal charges for their alleged involvement in an illegal Mon Valley gambling operation waived their cases to court Thursday morning.

Holtzman, 57, of McKeesport is charged with gambling devices, conspiracy and two counts of corrupt organization.

Holtzman was accompanied by his attorney Chuck LoPresti at preliminary hearing before Forest Hills Magisterial District Judge Thomas Caulifield.

Charges against Holtzman stem from an investigation by the Attorney General's Organized Crime Section and state police centered around alleged gambling ring leader Ronald “Porky” Melocchi Sr., owner of Glassport-based Back Alley Vending.

“I can't get into discussions that I'm having with my client,” LoPresti said. “I can tell you procedurally today what we did was waive the case, in its entirety with no amendments, into court. We intend to continue to have discussions with the attorney general's office. We respect what they've done so far. Hopefully we'll be able to make something very positive happen here as a result of all the negativity that's occurring. That's my goal here. It's no secret. We're just trying to save a guy's life and a guy's job.”

Holtzman, a McKeesport Area school director and retired McKeesport police sergeant, remains Forward Township's police chief as the case continues.

Clairton Municipal Authority board member James Cerqua, 57, of Clairton, waived to court charges of dealing in proceeds of illegal activity, gambling devices, pool selling and bookmaking and two counts of corrupt organization.

Rodney Elia Iannelli, 53, of Ohio Township, waived to court charges of dealing in proceeds of illegal activity, lotteries, conspiracy and two counts of corrupt organization.

Terence P. McNelis, 52, of White Hall, waived to court charges of corrupt organization, dealing in proceeds of illegal activity, lotteries, pool selling and bookmaking and conspiracy.

A preliminary hearing for Twin Oaks owner Mark Novakovich was postponed to Nov. 21 at 9 a.m. at the defense's request.

Novakovich, 55, of White Oak is charged with gambling devices.

Formal arraignment for those who waived on Thursday is Nov. 21 at 11 a.m. at Allegheny County Common Pleas Court.

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