Jeannette official brings sex offender record
By Richard Gazarik
Published: Saturday, March 23, 2013, 12:01 a.m.
The newly appointed chairman of the Jeannette Municipal Authority is a convicted sex offender, according to court records.
The previous chairman of the five-member authority board was forced to resign because of ethical violations and another member is under pressure to pay $5,000 in delinquent sewage bills.
New Chairman Dustin Ager, 29, was placed on five years' probation in 2006 after pleading guilty to corruption of minors and was ordered to enter a sex offenders treatment program, court records show.
“I really don't want to comment on that,” said Ager, a former Irwin police officer and Westmoreland County deputy sheriff.
Ager replaced Gary Davis, who was forced to resign last month by the State Ethics Commission for violating state law by using his position to get his wife a job with the authority over other, qualified candidates. Davis was ordered to pay $6,498.90 in penalties.
A third board member, Richard Pitzer, owes the authority $5,000 for delinquent sewage bills that he said he has paid down from more than $8,000.
Jeannette, a city of 9,634, has been teetering on the brink of municipal bankruptcy and has faced being declared a distressed municipality subject to state oversight.
The municipal authority serves about 5,000 customers in the city, Penn Borough, Penn Township and part of Hempfield.
Ager said Thursday he didn't know whether city officials were aware of his criminal record when they appointed him.
“That, I don't know,” he said. “I honestly don't know.”
City attorney Scott Avolio said the Pennsylvania Municipal Authorities Act limits the power of officials to appointing members to authorities, which are autonomous. He said council was aware of Ager's legal problems, but the issue was not discussed when he was appointed.
“When Dustin was appointed, I don't remember any discussion about his record,” Avolio said.
Ager was arrested in 2005 on charges of sexual abuse of children, possession of child pornography, unlawful contact with a minor and two counts of corruption of a minor. He was a candidate for the Jeannette School Board at the time of his arrest but was not elected.
Police found on his computer sexually explicit photos of men and pictures of juveniles. Court records show he pleaded guilty to two counts of corruption of minors; the other charges were dropped.
Judge Debra Pezze sentenced him to five years' probation and to undergo treatment. He was banned from having unsupervised contact with young children. He was released early from probation in 2009, records show.
Ager was not required to register as a sex offender under Megan's Law because corruption of minors was not a registration requirement at the time. The act was updated last year to include that charge, along with indecent assault.
Ager was appointed to the authority in 2012 to fill a vacancy on the board, according to City Clerk Mike Minyon Jr. Council reappointed Ager in December by a 4-0 vote. Councilman Mark Levander made the motion, which was supported by Mark Clark, then-councilman Jim Benson and Mayor Robert Carter.
Carter said the issue never surfaced at a public meeting. No one objected before the vote was taken.
“I totally forgot about it,” Carter said. “I never gave it much thought.”
Clark said Ager had been serving on the Recreation Commission and was asked to resign because of his record.
“I knew he had a record,” the mayor said. “Serving on the authority had nothing to do with kids. I didn't see anything bad about that.”
Levander and Councilman Bill Bedont did not respond to requests for comment. Authority board members Philip Answine and Nick Masciantonio could not be reached for comment. Morrison Lewis, the authority's solicitor, said he was unaware of Ager's legal issues.
Pitzer said he was unaware of the crime but declined comment.
Pitzer, who manages Pitzer's Townhouse in Jeannette, owes the authority $5,000 for sewage. At one point, Pitzer said, he owed the authority between $8,000 and $9,000 and had been making payments. Because of financial problems, Pitzer said, he's asked the authority for additional time to pay the debt.
Lewis would not reveal the exact amount that Pitzer owes the authority but said he may file a lien against him by the end of the month.
“If it's not paid, he will be liened,” he said. “I think they'll (authority) probably suggest he should resign.”
Pitzer said he has no plans to quit.
“I don't receive any special treatment. I don't ask for any special treatment,” he said.
Pitzer said he no longer owns the business. Bankruptcy court records reveal he sold the bar and restaurant in 2010 for $40,000 to Tony Diorio of Unity. Pitzer said he now manages Pitzer's Townhouse for Diorio.
Richard Gazarik is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-830-6292 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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