North Huntingdon job was front for drug sales, authorities say
State prosecutors claim in court documents that the reputed national leader of the Pagans motorcycle gang used his job as a delivery man for a North Huntingdon flooring businesses as a front for his drug operation.
On Wednesday, Westmoreland County Judge Debra Pezze denied a request from Dennis "Rooster" Katona, 45, of Hempfield to allow him leave house arrest to resume working for Pecora Flooring.
Katona was arrested in June when police searched his Ember Lane home and found more than 84 grams of cocaine and nearly 100 grams of methamphetamine with a combined street value of $20,000.
The search also turned up nearly $4,000, a digital scale used to weigh drugs and a document that indicated who owed Katona money, police reported.
Katona was released from jail in early August upon posting $500,000 bail. Pezze ordered that Katona await trial on house arrest and that he wear an electronic monitor equipped with a GPS locator.
This month, Katona asked for work release to return to his delivery job. Defense attorney Bill McCabe claims that Katona needs the job to support his family and to pay for his defense at trial.
In a court filing made public yesterday, prosecutors questioned Katona's employment claims.
Deputy Attorney General Michael Ahwesh wrote that informants saw Katona make drug sales while driving a Pecora Flooring truck, once in June and another time four years earlier.
During the search of Katona's home, police seized gas, toll and other receipts that showed he traveled extensively during the early part of the year throughout the eastern United States, California and Germany, Ahwesh wrote.
"During numerous instances of surveillance by members of the Pennsylvania State Police the defendant was never observed to be working, though he was observed at Pecora Flooring," he added.
Pecora Flooring owner Vince Pecora defended Katona's employment with the company.
"I let a guy come to work six years ago who needed a job when he got out of jail. He did a super job," Pecora said yesterday. "He went out and delivered stuff. How would they (police) know if he worked• For them to make an accusation like that is a farce."
Prosecutors have said that Katona serves as the national president of the Pagans and that he served a federal prison sentence after he was convicted of racketeering and assault. He was charged in connection with an attack by the Pagans on the rival Hell's Angels in Long Island, N.Y., in 2002, according to prosecutors.
His trial in Westmoreland County on the pending drug charges has yet to be scheduled.
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.