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Beaver County deputy accused of lying to police in George David investigation

| Wednesday, June 4, 2014, 12:30 p.m.

State police charged a Beaver County sheriff's deputy on Wednesday with lying to them about whether his boss threatened the operator of a news website.

State police said Lt. Thomas R. Ochs, 44, of Economy changed his story several times when questioned about whether Sheriff George David threatened John Paul Vranesevich with a blackjack and a gun during an April 16, 2012, interview in David's office in the Beaver County Courthouse.

Jury selection for David's trial on charges of intimidation, simple assault, harassment, making terroristic threats and reckless endangerment is scheduled for June 30. He remains on house arrest. State police said Ochs and Sgt. Mike Tibolet were present during the April 16 meeting.

Police charged Ochs with unsworn falsification to authorities, false swearing, obstruction of justice and hindering apprehension.

He remained free on $2,500 unsecured bond set by District Judge Tim Finn, who said Ochs cannot have any contact with David or witnesses in David's trial unless it is related to work. Ochs remains on duty.

“Mr. Ochs is very upset that throughout the course of this investigation, to the best of his ability, he's been cooperative,” said attorney Steven C. Townsend, whose Downtown law firm is representing Ochs. “It's difficult for a person in his position to remember every single detail or every single meeting he had.”

Ochs's version of the interaction between David and Vranesevich differed during interviews with investigators, during David's preliminary hearing and during grand jury testimony, according to a criminal complaint. Sometimes, he said David pointed a gun; other times, he said David didn't. During David's preliminary hearing, Ochs testified he didn't tell anyone that David pulled his weapon because he didn't want to get David in trouble, the complaint stated.

Bill Vidonic is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-380-5621 or bvidonic@tribweb.com.

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