'Pork Chop' defendant pleads guilty, receives 1-year probation in gambling case
The state's investigation into alleged gambling activity in the McKeesport area produced another guilty plea on Monday in Allegheny County Common Pleas Court.
Judge Donald E. Machen accepted the plea from Jeffrey F. Risha, 59, of Belle Vernon on one misdemeanor count of bookmaking and ordered him to serve one year of probation.
According to the grand jury presentment last September, Risha agreed to take sports wagers from an undercover trooper, who visited Risha's home to pay for losing bets and to collect for winning ones.
Machen directed that, if no other crime is committed during the first six months of what will be considered a reporting probation, the second six months will be considered a nonreporting probation.
In addition, Machen gave permission to transfer supervision over that probation to authorities in Westmoreland County.
Risha's case was separated from that of several other defendants in what state officials have called “Operation Pork Chop.”
On April 7, he accepted pleas from Rodney E. Iannelli, 54, of Ohio Township and Terence P. McNelis, 52, of Baldwin.
He sentenced Iannelli to one year of probation and ordered him to pay $15,000 in restitution plus court costs for conspiring to set up a lottery or numbers game.
McNelis was sentenced to two years probation and ordered him to pay $5,000 in restitution for setting up a lottery or numbers game.
Last week Machen continued nonjury trials until Sept. 15 for Forward Township police Chief Mark K. Holtzman, 57, of McKeesport and Municipal Authority board member James A. Cerqua, 58, of Clairton.
Each are charged with a series of felonies and misdemeanors tying them to the ring allegedly led by Rodney “Porky” Melocchi, 56, of Belle Vernon. His is the next scheduled case state prosecutors will take to Common Pleas Court.
Melocchi is slated to enter a plea regarding 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 misdemeanors, before Judge Joseph K. Williams III on June 26.
If Risha's probation becomes nonreporting it would be the second time for a Pork Chop defendant. On May 19, Machen ordered a year of nonreporting probation in sentencing Eugene T. “Red” Kowalski, 66, of North Huntingdon Township for pleading guilty to a misdemeanor count of gambling devices.
Patrick Cloonan is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. 412-664-9161, ext. 1967, or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Student ‘geek squad’ to help train Steel Valley classmates on iPads
- New traffic lights to be installed near McKeesport’s Jerome Bridge
- McKeesport prepares for Relay For Life
- Restrictions begin on Route 51 south
- Homestead summit addresses ways to help inmates transition after prison
- Local residents reminisce about Glassport pool
- Steel Valley rejects bids, says restrooms will be constructed in-house
- Mifflin Road project is on schedule, within budget
- Mon Yough school districts, nonprofits getting by for now with no state budget
- 3 charged in carjack attempt in Duquesne
- Mon Valley spans in need of attention