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Beaver Falls man's suit alleges Stowe police withheld evidence

| Wednesday, Nov. 20, 2013, 3:21 p.m.
David Andrews of Beaver Falls talks about being falsley accused of luring a child and his subsequent lawsuit against the Stowe Police Department on Wednesday, Nov. 20, 2013.
Andrew Russell | Tribune-Review
David Andrews of Beaver Falls talks about being falsley accused of luring a child and his subsequent lawsuit against the Stowe Police Department on Wednesday, Nov. 20, 2013.

Stowe police were so intent on convicting a Beaver Falls man of attempting to lure a child into his car last year that they withheld evidence from both the defense and prosecution, the man, who was acquitted, says in a federal lawsuit he filed on Wednesday.

The luring incident occurred on Nov. 25, a Sunday, according to the lawsuit. David Andrews, 52, said, “I was at home, doing laundry, taking it easy.”

The 15-year-old victim told police that a man in his 30s with black hair in a four-door, red car tried to lure her into the car as she was walking home in McKees Rocks, the lawsuit says. She gave police a partial license plate number that started with “ACG” and told them there were no bumper stickers on the car, according to the suit.

The next day, the girl spotted Andrews going to his office in McKees Rocks in a two-door, red car with a license plate whose number begins with “JDG.” The vehicle's back bumper has a large blue sticker that says, “Keep Tahoe Blue.”

Despite the discrepancies, she and her mother followed Andrews to work and reported to police that he was the man who tried to lure her into his car, the lawsuit says.

Stowe Officer Robert Scuilli prepared an arrest affidavit that falsely said the girl provided a partial plate number beginning with “JDG” and reported the suspect had black and gray hair instead of just black hair, the lawsuit claims. According to the suit, Scuilli omitted mention of the bumper sticker. Acting police Chief Matthew Preininger was aware of the deception and went along with it, the lawsuit says.

Preininger and Stowe's solicitor, Jack Cambest, couldn't be reached for comment. Mike Manko, spokesman for the district attorney's office, declined to comment.

Andrews' attorney, Tim O'Brien, who didn't handle Andrews' criminal case, said Stowe police refused to turn over the original 911 call transcript and original incident report to either Andrews' defense attorney or the assistant district attorneys handling the case.

They only handed it over on the day of Andrews' trial, when his criminal defense attorney subpoenaed the 911 dispatcher, he said.

“At that point, the game was up because the dispatcher was going to come in and tell the truth,” O'Brien said.

Andrews said his attorney tried to persuade police to look at cellphone tower records that provide the data showing that he was on the phone at his Beaver Falls home within 10 minutes of the luring incident.

Authorities refused to credit a neighbor's testimony that Andrews' car was in his driveway shortly before the incident occurred 35 miles away, he said.

One of the hardest things for him to accept was their indifference to the evidence, he said.

“They never even asked me any questions,” Andrews said.

Brian Bowling is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at bbowling@tribweb.com.

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