Policeman to face trial for threatening four

Liz Hayes
| Saturday, July 10, 2004

A Wilkinsburg police officer and another man must stand trial on charges of barging into a New Kensington home and threatening four occupants at gunpoint, a district justice ruled Friday.

Michael J. Adams, 41, of North Street, New Kensington, is accused of shoving a .38-caliber revolver into a man's mouth and threatening to shoot him. Co-defendant Brian G. Keener Sr., 47, of Westminster Drive, Verona, is accused of taking part in the June 11 attack at a home in the 400 block of Charles Avenue.

New Kensington District Justice Frank J. Pallone Jr. ordered Adams to stand trial on charges of official oppression, simple assault, reckless endangerment, terroristic threats, burglary, criminal mischief and criminal conspiracy. Three counts of reckless endangerment were dismissed. Keener faces trial on charges of burglary and conspiracy.

Witnesses said Adams accused Anthony Febbraio, 20, of New Kensington, of throwing a brick or rock at Adams' BMW.

Febbraio testified that he did not damage the car or know who did. He said he was playing video games with three other men at a friend's house when Adams and Keener knocked on the door and asked to speak to the owner of the Jeep Wrangler parked outside. Febbraio, who was driving the Jeep, said he and his three friends all came to the door but did not allow the two men inside.

Febbraio said Adams and Keener forced their way in and that Adams pulled out his handcuffs and police badge. Febbraio said Adams slapped the other three young men in the face with the badge and then pulled out a gun, shoved the barrel into Febbraio's mouth and said, "I should blow your (expletive) brains out right now."

Febbraio's mother, Susie, began crying as her son described his fear.

A neighboring woman, apparently hearing the commotion, came to the door and Adams identified himself as a police officer, Febbraio said.

New Kensington Police Chief Chuck Korman testified that a resident called him at home about the incident.

Jay Moser, who lives across the street from the house, said he called police after he saw two men arrive with a baseball bat and heard a sound he thought was them smashing Febbraio's Jeep. Moser identified one of the men as Keener but said he did not see them hit the car. Febbraio said his Jeep's taillights and side mirrors were smashed.

District Attorney John Peck called Adams and Keener "two vigilantes," but Keener's attorney, William Cercone, described it differently.

"What we have here is these two people who committed the crime of stupidity," Cercone said.

Adams' lawyer, Tom Ceraso, unsuccessfully sought to have the charges dismissed. Ceraso said Adams was not acting in an official capacity and therefore should not be charged with official oppression. Adams was off duty at the time.

Ceraso said after the hearing that Febbraio "is simply not testifying to what happened,"

Febbraio declined to comment after testifying.

"I'm livid," said his father, New Kensington-Arnold school board member Martin Febbraio. "There are four people in my house that are in hell because of this."

Adams, who was put on indefinite paid leave last month, left through the back of the magistrate's office and avoided reporters.

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