Criminal charges were filed today against state Sen. Robert Regola, R-Hempfield, in connection with the death of a teenage neighbor who was shot with the senator's gun.
State Sen. Robert Regola
The Westmoreland County coroner ruled that Louis Farrell, 14, committed suicide in July. He was found behind his home in Hempfield; a gun belonging to the senator was near the body.
After a lengthy inquest before attorney Thomas Farrell, who presided, Mr. Farrell suggested the senator wasn't being totally forthcoming about the presence of the gun in his home. Mr. Farrell is not related to the victim.
Today, state police filed charges that support that conclusion. Mr. Regola is accused of three counts of perjury, allowing possession of a firearm by a minor, recklessly endangering another person and false swearing.
Troopers allege in court papers and testified at the inquest that Mr. Regola told them the gun had been kept in his son Bobby's room for a time. But Mr. Regola testified at the inquest that his son did not have access to the gun.
That was contradicted by the testimony of one of Bobby's friends, who said he saw the gun in Bobby's room.
State police said Mr. Regola endangered Louis by keeping a loaded gun to which his son had access and knowing that Louis had a key to the home, which he used when he cared for the Regolas' dogs.
Mr. Regola is expected to be arraigned tomorrow.
Jon Perry, the Farrells' attorney, said the family was pleased with the charges. However, he said, frustration remains that the biggest question -- what happened to Louis -- is still unanswered.
"That's gratifying to the family," Mr. Perry said. "The family does, however, still have serious questions as to what happened in the woods that evening, and we don't believe that answer will ever be given unless and until Bobby Regola talks."
Bobby Regola invoked his Fifth Amendment right not to testify at the inquest.
More details in tomorrow's Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.