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Retired McKeesport police officer to pay fine for involvement in gambling ring

| Wednesday, Aug. 20, 2014, 3:56 a.m.
ART PERO
ART PERO

A retired McKeesport police officer was fined $150 on Tuesday for an action chronicled by state officials in their Operation Pork Chop gambling investigation.

A state prosecutor told Allegheny County Common Pleas Judge Beth A. Lazzara that former Lt. Arthur D. Pero “was minimally involved” in a ring allegedly masterminded by Ronald M. “Porky” Melocchi.

Pero, 57, of McKeesport pleaded guilty to one misdemeanor count of placing a bet. A second count was withdrawn by State Deputy Attorney General Mark Serge.

Serge said Pero had placed two bets 11 months apart, telling Lazzara, “he was present in the establishment with a stepson,” later identified as Timothy J. Minkus, 32, of West Mifflin.

Minkus was sentenced to two years probation on May 27 by Common Pleas Judge Donna Jo McDaniel after entering a guilty plea to the same offense that ensnared his stepfather.

However, state prosecutors withdrew three felony and two other misdemeanor counts against Minkus, who was assessed for $2,051 in court costs from McDaniel.

“You should not be involved in this sort of activity and I hope it has come to a conclusion,” Lazzara told Pero as she fined him and ordered him to pay additional court costs.

The full list of those costs was not available at presstime but likely will more than double Pero's obligation. Still, it marked the first of 13 Operation Pork Chop sentences that did not include probation.

Pero's attorney, James A. Crosby, told Lazzara, “he's cooperated completely” with the investigation. Crosby and his client declined comment outside the courtroom.

Three more cases remain from the Pork Chop investigation that led to indictments by a state grand jury last September.

Melocchi, 56, of West Newton is to enter his plea on Sept. 29 before Common Pleas Judge Joseph K. Williams III. He is charged with felony counts of employment in a corrupt organization, conspiracy, dealing in proceeds of illegal activity and criminal use of a communication facility, as well as 53 misdemeanors.

On Sept. 15, Forward Township police Chief and former McKeesport police Deputy Chief Mark P. Holtzman, 57, and Clairton Municipal Authority member James A. Cerqua, 58, will have nonjury trials before Common Pleas Judge Donald E. Machen.

Cerqua is charged with three felonies and four misdemeanors, Holtzman with two felonies and two misdemeanors.

Patrick Cloonan is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-664-9161, ext. 1967, or pcloonan@tribweb.com.

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