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Losing Washington County district attorney candidate DiCarlo sues over website

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Friday, Nov. 30, 2012, 11:56 p.m.
 

A Washington County lawyer says he lost a close race in 2011 for district attorney because of a website that claimed he would turn a blind eye to corruption and did not pay his taxes, among other allegations.

Democrat David DiCarlo, a Canonsburg lawyer, sued Ronald Levi, a former District Attorney's Office employee from Eighty Four, and 10 other unnamed people who DiCarlo said created and promoted the site votenodicarlo.com.

DiCarlo's lawsuit, filed in Washington County Common Pleas Court in October, alleges the site defamed him with false claims, including that he never tried a case during his two years as an assistant district attorney.

Levi's lawyer, Dennis Popojas of Bridgeville, said Levi denied any involvement in the website.

“He doesn't know where this is coming from,” Popojas said. “We're eagerly waiting to see what they have to show that my client is involved.”

Levi was made the head of the District Attorney's Office's drug task force by former District Attorney Steve Toprani. He remained in that position until March 23, about three months after Eugene Vittone, the Republican who beat DiCarlo in 2011, took office.

“We did not authorize the website,” Vittone said.

He declined to comment on why Levi left the office, saying he does not comment on personnel matters.

“He worked for the drug task force for the last administration,” Vittone said. “He worked for a brief period of time when I first started.”

DiCarlo declined to comment and referred questions to his lawyers, Matthew and Peter Kurzweg, Downtown, who did not return calls.

Vittone beat DiCarlo by 112 votes out of more than 42,000 ballots cast, according to the Washington County Elections Department.

“The defamatory content posted on the website was the proximate cause of DiCarlo's losing enough votes to lose the general election, in that it influenced enough individuals to vote against DiCarlo or not to vote for DiCarlo, and thereby created the 112-vote deficit,” according to the lawsuit.

The lawsuit is the second DiCarlo filed this year related to the website.

The site, which is no longer online, included a photo of DiCarlo with an “X” over his face and the words, “I WILL IGNORE POLICE CORRUPTION,” according to the lawsuit. It says the quote “is a false statement never made by DiCarlo,” and claims the site irreparably damaged his reputation, caused him severe distress, as well as loss of sleep and the salary due to the district attorney.

Mike Wereschagin is a staff writerfor Trib Total Media. He canbe reached at 412-320-7900or mwereschagin@tribweb.com.

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