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Report: Roethlisberger provided 'perks' to PSP officials

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Wednesday, May 25, 2011
 

Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger provided "perks" to Pennsylvania State Police officials by giving them seats in his private luxury suite at Heinz Field and appearing at their charity fundraisers, the Tribune-Review has learned.

Those were some of the findings this month by an arbitrator who rejected Trooper Ed Joyner's appeal to return to his off-duty work for Roethlisberger following unproven allegations that Roethlisberger raped a woman last year in a Milledgeville, Ga., bar.

State Police Lt. Col. John Brown, now retired, yanked Joyner's supplementary employment approval on April 19, 2010. Joyner, 42, filed a union grievance to get it back.

During his Oct. 6 grievance hearing in Harrisburg, Joyner admitted that the scope of his moonlighting duties for Roethlisberger expanded after he began working for the Super Bowl star in 2005. Back then, Joyner told state police superiors that he expected to work no more than 10 hours weekly chauffeuring Roethlisberger to NFL games, collecting his fan mail and fielding telephone calls.

But Joyner's job grew to include "retrieving items from the hotel room if Roethlisberger needed something while playing in a celebrity golf tournament; tipping pilots, limousine drivers, etc., on trips; contacting stores to arrange for private shopping trips; detailing Roethlisberger's automobiles; cutting his grass;Â contacting contractors to obtain quotes for work around the house or landscaping," according to the grievance hearing decision issued on May 12 and obtained by the Trib.

Joyner, a recruiter and patrolman assigned to Troop B in Washington, Pa., "was actually performing duties that amounted to whatever Mr. Roethlisberger needed someone to do," wrote arbitrator John M. Skonier.

Joyner's testimony clashes with state police pay stubs provided to the Trib under Pennsylvania's Right-to-Know law. From 2005 through 2008, Joyner's police overtime pay totaled nearly $71,000. In 2009, Joyner logged 602 hours of state police overtime -- worth $32,105 -- despite his expanded duties for Roethlisberger.

Joyner didn't return messages Tuesday. State police officials in Harrisburg wouldn't name the supervisors who benefited from Joyner's relationship with Roethlisberger and declined any comment on the matter.

Ryan Tollner, Roethlisberger's agent, declined comment.

State officials argued in the grievance proceedings that Joyner "was a guard of some kind and that he was more interested in protecting Mr. Roethlisberger than assisting young girls" who told Georgia authorities Joyner barred them from helping a 20-year-old friend left alone with Roethlisberger in a bar restroom on March 5, 2010, according to the legal filings.

The women also told Georgia authorities that Joyner paid Roethlisberger's bar tab that night, with minors consuming alcohol with the quarterback before the alleged rape occurred. Joyner and another assistant of Roethlisberger's -- Coraopolis Police Patrolman Anthony Barravecchio -- didn't drink, the grievance decision said.

While state police couldn't prove that Joyner was Roethlisberger's bodyguard, a violation of state police policy, Skonier wrote that he ruled against Joyner in part because it became "difficult to determine where the 'job' ends and the friendship begins."

Bruce Edwards, union president of the Pennsylvania State Troopers Association, said yesterday that Joyner's superiors failed to prove that he demeaned the force with his behavior, a core argument in the case against him.

"The PSTA was proud to represent Trooper Joyner, who has an exemplary record serving the Pennsylvania State Police," Edwards said in a written statement.

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