2 key Operation Pork Chop defendants delay pleas
Two key Operation Pork Chop defendants delayed their pleas, while five others still are slated to enter guilty pleas Thursday in a Pittsburgh courtroom.
“I can't answer any questions,” defense attorney Angela Rene Carsia said when asked why Ronald “Porky” Melocchi and McKeesport Councilman Daniel Carr had their pleas delayed until June 26.
The office of Attorney General Kathleen G. Kane declined comment as well.
Angela and Bruce A. Carsia represent all seven defendants who were scheduled to enter pleas Thursday in connection with the gambling ring Melocchi allegedly masterminded in the McKeesport area.
Melocchi, 56, of Belle Vernon is charged with felony counts of corrupt organization, conspiring to use profits of unlawful activities, dealing in proceeds of those activities, and criminal use of a communication facility, as well as 53 misdemeanor counts, 49 of which involve gambling devices.
Carr, 55, is charged with felony counts of corrupt organization and conspiring to use profits in other investments, two misdemeanor counts of allowing gambling and one misdemeanor count of conspiring to install devices.
Senior deputy attorney general Michael M. Ahwesh said five others remain scheduled to enter pleas on Thursday before Allegheny County Common Pleas Judge Joseph K. Williams III:
• Kirk A. Mollica, 46, of Elizabeth Township is charged with the same felonies as Melocchi, and four misdemeanors — two of conspiracy and one each of gambling devices and numbers games.
• Ronald D. Prest, 66, a retired McKeesport police sergeant, is charged with the same felonies as Melocchi as well as misdemeanor counts of gambling devices and conspiracy.
• Frank C. Reese, 62, of McKeesport is charged with felony corrupt organizations and conspiracy and misdemeanor gambling devices and conspiracy counts.
• Robert H. Bogesdorfer, 67, of Irwin is charged with felony corrupt organizations, conspiracy and dealing in proceeds of unlawful activity, and misdemeanor gambling devices and conspiracy counts.
• Catherine Gouker, 56, of Belle Vernon is charged with one misdemeanor count of allowing gambling.
One Pork Chop-related nonjury trial remained on Williams' docket Thursday for Mark Novakovich, 56, of White Oak. He is charged with one count of allowing gambling at his Twin Oaks restaurant and is represented by attorney Matthew Doebler.
In all, 16 defendants were indicted in September 2013 by a grand jury investigating what authorities came to call Operation Pork Chop. All are free on nonmonetary bond.
Patrick Cloonan is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-664-9161, ext. 1967, or email@example.com.