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Worthington fires police chief, officer

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Louis B. Ruediger | Leader Times
Former Worthington Police Chief William DeForte.
By Tim Karan
Wednesday, Nov. 7, 2012, 2:51 a.m.
 

WORTHINGTON — After a month filled with big news in this small town, Worthington Borough Council fired its police chief and another officer amid pending investigations into undisclosed allegations.

Mayor Kevin Feeney suspended Chief William DeForte on Oct. 26 and requested he be permanently dismissed during a public meeting on Monday night.

Feeney said he made the move on the recommendation of borough solicitor Roger T. Mechling.

Neither Feeney nor Mechling returned calls for comment.

Armstrong County District Attorney Scott Andreassi, however, confirmed that DeForte is under investigation but said he couldn't reveal the nature of the allegations against him.

“All I can say is that there's currently an investigation under way by the state police,” Andreassi said.

“And the investigation came at the request of the mayor of Worthington.”

Lt. Thomas Dubovi, commander of the state police in Kittanning, also declined to comment, except to say: “We are looking at several issues that have been brought to our attention by the mayor.”

DeForte did not return a call placed for comment.

In addition, Officer Evan Townsend, who was suspended two days after DeForte, also was fired from the department. Feeney said Townsend is being investigated for allegedly taking items from the borough building.

DeForte, a resident of Allegheny County, spearheaded an undercover prostitution sting operation in July that led to the arrests of eight men.

The police department placed a classified ad for an escort service online using a photo of a clothed undercover female officer. The officer made arrangements to meet with suspects in a parking lot bordering Route 422.

All eight later pleaded guilty to disorderly conduct charges in exchange for dismissed charges of soliciting a prostitute.

Only a week after the arrests were made in that case, DeForte again was in the news when Keith Kammerdeiner, 38, of Aliquippa, allegedly held his ex-girlfriend hostage in her West Main Street home and prompted what police believed was a standoff. Kammerdeiner was arrested later that night in Pittsburgh, but authorities discovered a homemade explosive device he left near the Worthington home the following week.

There was no indications that either of those incidents are related to the investigations of DeForte and Townsend.

In the meantime, Worthington Council appointed Sgt. Gerald V. Rodgers Jr. as chief of police and named Constable Barry Rosen as public safety director. Andreassi said no further details about the case will be revealed until more progress is made in the investigation.

Tim Karan is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-543-1303 or tkaran@tribweb.com.

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