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Fired Westmoreland 911 dispatcher rejects probation deal

| Thursday, Oct. 11, 2012, 12:02 a.m.

A former Westmoreland County 911 dispatcher has rejected a deal to serve two years on probation for attempting to help his cousin avoid drunken-driving charges.

Defense attorney Anthony DeBernardo told Judge Debra A. Pezze on Wednesday that his client, Michael Kalp, 41, of Greensburg, wants to return to work. By accepting a probation deal, Kalp would hurt those chances, DeBernardo said.

β€œHe didn't do anything wrong,” DeBernardo said.

Police accused Kalp, a 20-year county employee, of obstructing administration of law; official oppression; reckless endangerment; tampering or fabricating evidence; hindering apprehension; and making false reports.

Investigators said Kalp was working the evening that his cousin, Joseph Miller Kalp, 25, of Hempfield, was drunk and crashed along Old Airport Road. Michael Kalp attempted to bypass the system so that authorities wouldn't investigate the 3:06 a.m. accident, according to police.

Testimony during a preliminary hearing in August revealed that Michael Kalp was at work on April 14 and took a call from his cousin after the crash. Michael Kalp then went to the crash scene and called state police to say that his cousin had hit a deer and that the crash was not serious, according to testimony.

DeBernardo said Michael Kalp's actions were not criminal.

Kalp, who was fired by Westmoreland County in May, has challenged his dismissal. In August, a worker's compensation referee found there were problems with Kalp's firing and ruled that he should receive unemployment benefits.

DeBernardo said a hearing will be convened with the county and Kalp's union to determine if his firing was proper.

In court, Kalp rejected a deal from prosecutors to enter the Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition Program for first-time, nonviolent offenders. The program does not require defendants to plead guilty and enables them to have their criminal records expunged after completion of a probation period.

Kalp, instead, will challenge the charges.

β€œI cannot see any criminal law being violated and will ask the court to dismiss the charges,” DeBernardo said.

Joseph Kalp was charged with drunken driving and related offenses. His case is pending.

Rich Cholodofsky is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-830-6293 or rcholodofsky@tribweb.com.

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