Pagan's lawyer seeks info
The attorney for the reputed head of the Pagans Motorcycle Club told a Westmoreland County judge Tuesday that a top-ranking state trooper was leaking information to the outlaw biker gang.
During a pretrial hearing for Dennis “Rooster” Katona of Hempfield, defense attorney Paul Boas said grand jury evidence last year revealed that suspended state Trooper Robert Stauffer was investigated for having secret discussions with another leader of the Pagans.
Boas wants Judge Debra Pezze to order state police to turn over details of its internal investigation of Stauffer.
“Now we learn Stauffer was apparently leaking information to someone Mr. Katona knows well. The idea we won't be privy to that information is unacceptable,” Boas said.
Katona, 46, was charged in June 2011 after 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 turned up nearly $4,000, a digital scale used to weigh drugs and a document that indicated who owed Katona money, police reported.
Stauffer served as an intelligence officer for the state police Special Emergency Response Team, which led a raid on Katona's rural home in June 2011.
Following that raid, Stauffer was the subject of an internal investigation by state police because he reportedly was leaking information to another Pagan, Merle “Jackpot” King of Hempfield, according to testimony.
King formerly served as national president for the biker group before he was sentenced in 1989 to 27 years in federal prison for racketeering and drug offenses.
Joann Reynolds, an attorney for the state police, testified Tuesday that the Stauffer investigation did not involve Katona.
“There was only a peripheral mention of Katona. It has no impact on this case,” Reynolds testified.
Reynolds declined to reveal specifics of the investigation, although Deputy Attorney General Michael Ahwesh said Stauffer has not been charged with any criminal offenses.
State police spokesman Adam Reed said Stauffer, 52, of Adamsburg has been suspended without pay.
Boas contends information about Stauffer's involvement with King and other Pagans could help Katona's defense.
Stauffer testified last year before a state grand jury that he had little involvement with the Pagans, and King refused to testify to avoid self-incrimination, Boas said.
Pezze ordered state police to turn over details of its Stauffer investigation to Katona's defense team.
In addition, Katona wants the judge to bar from evidence details of the police search of his home, saying the raid was excessive.
Cpl. Mark Baer testified Tuesday that as many as 30 troopers stormed Katona's home on June 29, 2011.
The police had snipers positioned around the property as a team of about two dozen officers stormed out of a van and an armored-plated vehicle, discharged a “flash bang” grenade and entered through an open front door of the home, Baer testified.
“There was a special concern because he was involved with the Pagans. I know outlaw motorcycle gangs tend to be violent and don't like law enforcement,” Baer said.
Baer testified Katona and his wife sat on a couch while police stormed his home. No guns were found there, Baer said.
Rich Cholodofsky is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-830-6293 or firstname.lastname@example.org.