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Operation Pork Chop mastermind Melocchi sentenced to probation

| Monday, June 8, 2015, 12:02 p.m.
Ronald Melocchi
Ronald Melocchi

Ronald M. “Porky” Melocchi, 56, of West Newton, the admitted mastermind behind a McKeesport area gambling ring, was sentenced Monday to 10 years probation by Allegheny County Common Pleas Judge Joseph K. Williams III in a Pittsburgh courtroom.

Melocchi pleaded guilty on Oct. 1 to a felony count of running a corrupt organization and misdemeanor counts of gambling devices and bookmaking.

Williams refused to hear three character witnesses presented by defense attorney Bruce A. Carsia and said there will be no plea bargains with the state should Melocchi appear in his courtroom again.

“Do something like this again, there are no more deals for you,” Williams said.

Senior deputy attorney general Michael M. Ahwesh was the prosecutor.

The character witnesses were former Mayor Michael Evanovich of Glassport and Ernie Oatneal, who served with Melocchi on the McKeesport Recreation Board, and a third witness who could not be identified.

None wanted to comment when they left the courtroom. Melocchi's wife, Suzanne, told a reporter, “keep walking, please,” blocking access to her husband and Carsia after the brief hearing.

Carsia declined comment beyond his arguments in the courtroom.

Melocchi told the judge he was sorry and mentioned the embarrassment the case had caused his family, saying his mother “had to read the paper every day. She's 79 years old.”

Williams would hear none of that.

“The crime is, you were running a corrupt organization,” the judge told Melocchi. “You're responsible for a corrupt organization. You know where that money goes to.”

Carsia said his client is married, has four grown children and “he has no prior record.”

After a brief conference with Ahwesh he amended that comment to recall “he did have one misdemeanor years ago.”

According to state court records, it was a 2001 plea to five misdemeanor counts involving gambling devices in a case before Allegheny County Common Pleas Judge Gerald Bigley.

Melocchi was the last to be sentenced out of 16 “Operation Pork Chop” defendants who entered pleas after the were indicted on Sept. 5, 2013, by a state investigative grand jury.

Seventy warrants were issued in December 2012 for state agents to seize 354 video machines and more than $1 million in cash.

Melocchi was charged with three felonies and 54 misdemeanors but two of the felony counts and 52 of the misdemeanor counts were withdrawn by the attorney general's office.

No jail terms were issued in any “Operation Pork Chop” case, but 12 were given probation, seven of them before Williams, while others were fined.

Patrick Cloonan is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-664-9161 ext. 1967., or pcloonan@tribweb.com.

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