FBI arrests East Washington police chief, takes papers
By Michael Hasch
Published: Saturday, Oct. 29, 2011
The FBI removed a number of documents from the borough building of a small Washington County community after arresting the police chief on Friday.
Donald A. Solomon, 55, who has been chief of East Washington's 17-member police force for two years, was arrested by federal agents for violations of the Hobbs Act, said Mayor Mark Pacilla said.
Pacilla said he wasn't told the specific allegations against Solomon, but federal authorities often use Hobbs Act statutes in public-corruption cases.
"I'm shocked. I really am shocked," Pacilla said. "I want to see exactly what the charges are."
Solomon, who also is an emergency medical technician in the borough, remains in federal custody. Pacilla said he understands that an initial court appearance is scheduled for Monday.
Washington County District Attorney Steven M. Toprani said his office was in contact with federal authorities before the arrest. He said he isn't at liberty to discuss the case.
A federal judge has decided that the indictment should remain under seal, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Attorney's Office said.
Pacilla said he didn't learn about the investigation until the FBI summoned him to the borough building yesterday morning.
"They served me with a subpoena for some records. They left after obtaining them," the mayor said.
Solomon, who is married and has children, served as a patrolman in the borough for about 10 years before being named chief of the force, which consists of a full-time chief and 17 part-time officers.
Pacilla described Solomon as "a very competent officer and a very competent administrator."
Solomon was suspended with pay, pending further action by borough council, the mayor said.
Pacilla said borough officials are cooperating with federal investigators.
"We'll work with the FBI to see whatever else there is, if anything," he said.
East Washington, just outside the city of Washington, has about 2,000 residents. The Washington & Jefferson College campus is spread over both communities.
Any time that federal authorities take action against law enforcement officials, there is a rippling effect in the community, Toprani said. "On the other hand, it shows that the laws are being enforced equally."
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.