Ex-energy lab chief who faced charges found dead in Upper St. Clair
The death of a former federal energy lab leader awaiting trial on obstruction charges stunned his friends who remember the Upper St. Clair man as an honest, talented, deeply religious family man who devoted much of his time to charitable works.
The body of Anthony Cugini, 54, the former director of the National Energy Technology Laboratory, was found on Wednesday morning in a dry creek bed in a wildlife area of Upper St. Clair. His wife had reported him missing on Tuesday.
More tests and investigations are needed to determine how Cugini died, Allegheny County Medical Examiner Karl E. Williams said on Thursday.
“We found a guy out in the woods with no obvious signs of trauma. Of course, his death is suspicious,” he said.
“I don't think it's a homicide. This guy was under investigation, so I said, ‘Let's try to get some more information.' We want to do toxicology and tissues tests. There was some minor trauma consistent with a fall but nothing that would cause his death,” Williams said.
Upper St. Clair police officials who are conducting the investigation could not be reached for comment.
“I'm stunned. I had a lot of respect for him. He was a good person to deal with, above board. He was one of the most decent human beings I know,” said Ronald Demicheli of Bethel Park, a former local union president at the National Energy Technology Laboratory, which is based in South Park and has research sites in Morgantown, W.Va.; Sugar Land, Texas; Anchorage; and Albany, Ore.
Cugini pleaded not guilty during his arraignment last month to obstructing a Department of Energy investigation into allegations of misuse of his office.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Leo Dillon said at the hearing that Cugini destroyed and hid evidence during the investigation, lied to investigators and had others destroy and hide evidence and lie to investigators. He did not provide details on how the agency believes Cugini misused his office.
Court documents show the government turned over evidence concerning Cugini's dealings with Holy Family Institute in Emsworth.
“His death is tragic. I am just devastated,” said Sister Linda Yankoski, Holy Family's CEO.
“ He was a good man, a wonderful family man and a wonderful human being. We have all lost a good person who made such a difference in academia, the government and in all that he did,” she said. “He was a talented, caring individual. It's terrible. It's tragic.”
Yankoski said Cugini's association with the institute began when his father and brother painted the chapel and other parts of the institute.
“He wanted to become a volunteer to help us with our young people. He cared and wanted to participate with disabled youth. He wanted to give back,” Yankoski said.
Demicheli said Cugini loved Holy Family and was a devout Catholic who went to Mass “almost every day, if not every day, before work.”
Police began searching for Cugini when he was reported missing. The search resumed on Wednesday morning, and his body was found a short time later in Wingfield Pines, an 80-acre conservation area along Mayview Road that is owned by the Allegheny Land Trust. His vehicle was found at the entrance to the park.
Michael Hasch is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7820 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Staff writers David Conti and Brian Bowling contributed to this report.
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.
- Alamo named as World Heritage site by United Nations
- Apple Hill Playhouse takes on an updated ‘Snow White’
- Westmoreland Cultural Trust moves to next phase of Palace capital campaign
- Count of Three Rivers Regatta visitors could top 500K despite race ban
- La Scuola d’Italia Galileo Galilei stokes interest in Pittsburgh’s Italian heritage
- New Derry to celebrate its 200th birthday
- Westmoreland County on pace to surpass record for drug-related fatalities
- Allegheny County Council aims to dig out of hole
- Don’t remove history’s lessons
- LaBar: Live WWE show in Japan opens opportunities
- Pennsylvania’s ‘Grand Canyon’ offers something for everyone