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For Del Greco, new position changes role

| Monday, July 22, 2013, 12:11 a.m.
Jasmine Goldband
File photo of attorney Bob Del Greco of Whitehall, taken June 6, 2012.

Usually Bob Del Greco defends judges when they get in trouble.

Now the prominent Pittsburgh defense attorney is on a state board tasked with investigating and prosecuting jurists.

Gov. Tom Corbett appointed Del Greco, 59, of Whitehall this month to the 12-member Judicial Conduct Board.

“When the governor calls you, you don't say no,” Del Greco said. “I'm looking forward to it. I'm flattered the governor put his trust in me.”

Corbett, a Shaler Republican and former state attorney general, said Del Greco, a Democrat, is “a highly respected attorney with impeccable legal credentials,” whose experience as a prosecutor, defense attorney and law school professor will be an asset to the board.

The board — composed of six laypeople, three lawyers and three judges — investigates complaints against judges statewide and has authority to initiate investigations, said its chief counsel, Robert Graci.

Complaints that have merit become formal complaints before the state's Court of Judicial Discipline, which metes out punishment. The Judicial Conduct Board acts as prosecutor.

The board received 660 complaints against judges statewide in 2012; five became formal complaints. The board issued more than 20 warning letters to other jurists whose conduct didn't rise to a formal complaint, Graci said.

Allegheny County Common Pleas Judge Jeffrey A. Manning said the board is important to ensure charges are not brought against judges without substance.

“He's a great lawyer and a former assistant district attorney,” Manning said of Del Greco. “He's known for representing high-profile clients. He understands how a judge should conduct himself — what needs to be looked at and what doesn't.”

Del Greco's client list has included a number of notable people, such as former Washington County Judge Paul Pozonsky, who is charged with stealing cocaine from evidence envelopes.

“It's daunting. My whole life I've been an advocate. In this instance I have to be neutral, fair and impartial,” Del Greco said.

A lawyer with Dickie, McCamey & Chilcote, he began practicing law in 1981, primarily in criminal and civil defense. He graduated from Duquesne University law school after receiving a bachelor's degree in English from Allegheny College, where he played basketball. His father, Bob Del Greco, played outfield for the Pirates, Yankees and other Major League Baseball teams.

Among Del Greco's notable cases were representing the family of Jonny Gammage, a black motorist who died when five white suburban police officers stopped him in Brentwood in 1995, and former Steelers running back Jerome Bettis in 2002, when a woman and her uncle tried to extort money by accusing him of assaulting her in his car outside a Greensburg bar.

Del Greco represents former Pittsburgh police Chief Nate Harper, who is accused in a federal grand jury indictment of failing to file income tax returns and taking about $30,000 in public money from a secret police credit union fund for personal use.

Bobby Kerlik is a Trib Total Media staff writer. Reach him at 412-320-7886 or bkerlik@tribweb.com.

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