Reputed head of the Pagans Motorcycle Club appeals civil judgment
The reputed head of the Pagans Motorcycle Club in Western Pennsylvania and his wife will fight a $5,388 civil damage award.
Dennis “Rooster” Katona, 46, of Hempfield, who is awaiting trial for allegedly manufacturing and delivering cocaine, and his wife, Sherri, recently were found jointly liable by West Newton District Judge Charles Christner for damage to a telephone pole and equipment owned by Verizon in Sewickley Township.
According to court documents, Ronald S. Thomas of Glassport was driving a vehicle owned by the Katonas on Clay Pike Road on Oct. 8, 2011, when it struck the utility pole.
Thomas could not be reached for comment on Monday. The relationship between the Katonas and Thomas could not be determined.
Thomas, 25, pleaded guilty to driving under the influence and was admitted to the Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition Program for first-time offenders. He was given a 60-day license suspension and was ordered to attend alcohol highway safety school, according to court records.
Online records show he has not made a payment on his fines and costs in over one year and is $350 in arrears.
Meanwhile, Verizon filed a civil complaint to recover its alleged property damage against Thomas and the Katonas. Court documents state the Katonas' vehicle was not insured at the time of the wreck.
Christner ruled in Verizon's favor on March 5.
In paperwork seeking to appeal Christner's decision without paying filing fees, Katona, who is free on $500,000 bond, and his wife, Sherri, indicated that she is the family's sole breadwinner.
Judge Debra Pezze has repeatedly denied Dennis Katona's requests for work release while he remains at home on electronic monitoring.
Court documents indicate that Sherri Katona works as a “muffin packer.”
Judge Gary Caruso signed an order on Monday approving the Katonas' request to proceed as paupers in their civil case and waiving payment for filing fees on the appeal.
Meanwhile, Dennis Katona's criminal attorney, Paul Boas, has sought to review grand jury testimony to determine if an internal police investigation may have uncovered evidence of tampering in the criminal case.
According to court documents, Boas maintains that witnesses may have provided testimony that could be used to exonerate Dennis Katona.
Dennis Katona was charged in June 2011 when police searched his Ember Lane home and found more than 84 grams of cocaine and nearly 100 grams of methamphetamine with a combined street value of $20,000.
The search also turned up nearly $4,000, a digital scale and a document that indicated who owed Katona money, police reported.
Boas suggests in motions the grand jury is investigating the actions of a state trooper who was part of the team that organized a raid on Dennis Katona's home.
The grand jury investigation and the Katona case may be linked, according to Boas.
Earlier this year, state police Cpl. Robert W. Stauffer, 52, of Adamsburg was suspended without pay as part of an ongoing investigation, an agency spokeswoman confirmed.
Arguments on motions are scheduled to resume later this month before Pezze. The case is tentatively set for trial in May.
Paul Peirce is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-850-2860 or firstname.lastname@example.org.