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Without witness, counts dropped against Latrobe councilman

| Tuesday, May 14, 2013, 12:27 a.m.

Misdemeanor charges against a Latrobe councilman were dropped Monday after the alleged victim ,who is accused of dealing drugs in the city, declined to testify.

Robert Steven Forish, 50, of Weldon Street, was not present when District Judge Michael Mahady approved the dismissal sought by Assistant District Attorney John Petrush. The proceeding occurred about an hour prior to Forish's scheduled preliminary hearing Monday.

Public defender John Sweeney told Petrush that material witness and victim Bruce Wade Thompkins, 43, “does not desire to testify in the case against Robert Forish,” Petrush said to Mahady.

“I applaud the DA's office for, in my own humble words, doing the right thing,” Mahady said in granting the dismissal.

Forish had faced charges of simple assault and reckless endangerment and was free on his own recognizance following a March 24 incident in which Forish accused Thompkins of dealing drugs. During a confrontation on Forish's porch, the councilman had been accused of threatening Thompkins with a firearm.

The arrest touched off an investigation during which police observed on five separate dates Thompkins and Michelle Muck, 32, allegedly having brief meetings with known drug users in business parking lots throughout Latrobe.

Thompkins and Muck were arrested on May 5 when investigators seized 95 stamp bags of heroin, $680 and drug paraphernalia from the pair's Weldon Street home. Muck allegedly sold six stamp bags to a confidential informant on May 4.

Thompkins was charged with manufacture of a controlled substance, possession of a controlled substance and possession of drug paraphernalia. Muck was charged with manufacture or possession of a controlled substance with intent to deliver, possession of a controlled substance and possession of drug paraphernalia.

Muck is free on $25,000 bail while Thompkins is being held in the Westmoreland County Prison on the same amount. Preliminary hearings for both suspects were continued on Monday.

During the bust, Latrobe Officer Joseph Angus and the city's K-9 officer, Rocky, suffered minor injuries when they were bitten by a pair of pit bulls. Police killed one of the pit bulls and the second was removed by Hoffman Kennels, police said.

New preliminary hearing dates for Muck and Thompkins have not been scheduled.

Renatta Signorini is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-837-5374 or rsignorini@tribweb.com.

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