Former Duquesne constable sues FBI for malicious prosecution

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A former Duquesne constable who was acquitted on federal drug charges at a trial two years ago has sued the FBI agent who led the probe against him.

Frank M. Cobb, 32, was charged with conspiring to distribute more than 5 kilograms of cocaine, maintaining a drug-involved premises and possessing firearms in furtherance of drug trafficking, as part of a 2010 roundup of 42 accused dealers centered around Clairton and other Mon Valley towns.

“When you get a search warrant, you have to say here’s probable cause," said attorney Joel Sansone, who authored the complaint filed late Friday. “You can’t mislead the grand jury into bringing an indictment, which is what the government did here.”

An FBI spokeswoman said the bureau does not comment on pending litigation.

Mr. Cobb was acquitted after prosecutors could not tie him to any actual quantity of the drug.

Mr. Cobb has sued agent Minh-Tri V. Truong and other as-yet-unspecified investigators. According to the complaint, Mr. Truong "maliciously targeted [Mr. Cobb] based on [his] relationships with others indicted" in the roundup, including his close friends and one cousin.

The complaint said that surveillance footage taken by a system Mr. Cobb installed to prevent trouble at his house would have exonerated him, but Mr. Truong refused to review it. The footage was "mysteriously wiped clean" while Mr. Cobb was in custody, according to the complaint.

The complaint said that Mr. Truong and other agents violated Mr. Cobb's freedom of association, maliciously prosecuted him and intentionally inflicted emotional distress. Mr. Sansone wrote that Mr. Cobb lost his role as an elected constable, time with his two children during a year in prison pre-trial, and even his "beloved dog, who was removed ... and who [Mr. Cobb] believes to be deceased." He seeks compensation.

"It cost him tremendously in terms of his reputation in the community, though he’s looking to rebuild it," said Mr. Sansone.


Rich Lord: rlord@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1542. Twitter: @richelord

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