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Ex-officer arrested in ticket-fixing case

| Wednesday, Feb. 26, 2003, 12:00 p.m.

A former Springdale Borough police officer was arrested Tuesday on charges of agreeing to fix a man's drunken-driving charge in exchange for a Las Vegas vacation.

Robert "Rob" D. Feil, 41, of Kuehn Drive, Trafford, was arraigned yesterday before Springdale District Justice David Sosovicka on felony charges of bribery in official and political matters. Feil, now a truck driver for a Pottsville company, also was charged with misdemeanor counts of obstruction of justice and official oppression.

Named in the complaint but not charged is former Springdale District Justice Gigi Sullivan, who was removed from office in 1999 after being indicted on charges she provided favors in exchange for heroin, cocaine and prescription pills. She later pleaded guilty to drug, corruption and forgery offenses and was sentenced to jail.

Francis "Frank" Aiello, age unknown, of Ridgway in Elk County, told a statewide grand jury that he was arrested on drunken driving charges in Springdale in February 1999, said Trooper Timothy C. Knapp, an investigator with the state police Organized Crime Unit.

Aiello, who was granted immunity in exchange for his testimony, said Feil handcuffed him for failing field sobriety tests, hit him in the face and locked him in a holding cell without giving him a blood-alcohol test, according to Knapp.

Rocky Cristini, of Brockport, and Michael Lucchetti, 46, of Kittanning, both in the auto salvage business, were named in the complaint as the people who introduced Aiello to Bill Loveland, allegedly the intermediary in the bribe.

Neither Cristini nor Lucchetti will be charged in this case, according to Kevin Harley, spokesman for state Attorney General Mike Fisher. Although not granted immunity, Loveland was a "cooperating witness," Harley said.

Loveland could not be reached for comment yesterday. The phone line to his auto shop had been disconnected.

Loveland allegedly told Aiello that in exchange for a Las Vegas vacation for Feil and a compact disc player for Sullivan's SUV, his DUI case could "be taken care of," according to grand jury documents.

Aiello later met with Feil at a doughnut shop and agreed to rent a van for the officer and pay for his hotel room at the Alexis Park Hotel in Las Vegas, Knapp said. In exchange for the trip, Feil said he wouldn't testify at Aiello's drunken driving hearing scheduled for April 28, 1999, at Sullivan's office, according to Knapp.

Feil did not attend the hearing and Sullivan dismissed the charges against Aiello, Knapp said.

Court records said Aiello used his credit card to pay for Feil's nine-day, $793 stay in Vegas in July 1999, as well as a $1,439 rental van for Feil and his girlfriend to drive across country.

Aiello also paid $300 for a CD player and shipped it to Loveland, who allegedly installed it in Sullivan's SUV, Knapp said.

Several months after his encounter with Feil, Aiello learned that his license was under suspension as a result of his drunken-driving arrest and supposed refusal of a blood-alcohol test, Knapp said.

Fisher's office has no plans to prosecute Sullivan, according to Harley.

Feil's mother, Connie Feil, said the family had no comment.

Feil resigned from his full-time position on the Springdale police force in 2000. He was released Tuesday after posting 10 percent of his $5,000 bond. A preliminary hearing is scheduled for March 5.

If convicted on all counts, Feil faces a maximum sentence of 11 years in prison and a $25,000 fine, Harley said.

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