Retired sheriff to plead guilty to macing

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Recently retired Sheriff Pete DeFazio is expected to plead guilty to one misdemeanor count in federal court tomorrow -- the culmination of a more than five-year investigation into corruption in the Allegheny County Sheriff's Office.

Mr. DeFazio, who retired at the end of October, will plead guilty to macing. That charge is defined as denying a benefit to a government employee for not contributing to a particular candidate or political party.

The former sheriff is not accused of pressuring any of his employees to donate money to his fund-raising campaigns. However, he is believed to have known about such a scheme and benefitted from the efforts of other officers in the department who did pressure deputies to donate.

Martin Dietz, Mr. DeFazio's attorney, confirmed his client will appear before U.S. District Court Judge Joy Flowers Conti at 2:30 p.m. He would not, however, talk about the charges.

"Nothing's been filed in this case," he said.

It's not unusual, though, in high-profile cases, for charges to be filed the day a hearing is scheduled.

U.S. Attorney Mary Beth Buchanan declined to comment.

Macing can carry a potential penalty of up to one year in prison.

Former Sheriff's Lt. Commander Richard A. Stewart, who was originally indicted for retaliation and lying to the grand jury, pleaded guilty to one count of macing. In August, he was ordered to serve one year of probation.

In his case, though, Mr. Stewart cooperated with investigators.

Mr. Dietz would not comment on whether Mr. DeFazio has provided any cooperation to federal officials.

If Mr. DeFazio pleads guilty, he will be the fourth high-ranking official in the sheriff's department to be convicted on charges related to public corruption.

Former captain Frank Schiralli, who was indicted at the same time as Mr. Stewart, was convicted by a jury on one count of making false statements. He is serving a 26-month prison sentence.

Former Chief Deputy Sheriff Dennis Skosnik is serving a five-year prison term after pleading guilty in March to five counts, including bribery, tampering with a witness, mail and wire fraud, and money laundering.



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