State troopers on Wednesday charged a Beaver County sheriff’s deputy with lying to them and in court regarding whether Sheriff George David threatened a website operator during a profane rant in his office in 2012.
Lt. Thomas Ochs, 44, changed his story multiple times between April 16, 2012, the date of the incident, and a court hearing on Feb. 10 of this year, troopers said in a complaint.
Lt. Ochs, a witness to the incident who testified last year before a state grand jury under a grant of immunity, “has provided incomplete, misleading and false information to investigators and the courts,” said troopers Daniel Mosura and Joseph Olayer.
Sheriff David is accused of threatening John Paul Vranesevich, who operates the Beaver Countian website, with a blackjack and gun during an interview at the courthouse.
Lt. Ochs and Sgt. Mike Tibolet were at the meeting.
Four days afterwards, Lt. Ochs told troopers he didn’t see Sheriff David pull his gun but said the sheriff held his blackjack and said, “If this would have happened in Aliquippa, this is what they would have got.”
In another interview on April 19, Lt. Ochs told the troopers that the sheriff was searching through his desk when he pulled out the blackjack and said, “You know, in 40 years in Aliquippa, this was all I ever needed,” and then tossed the weapon onto his desk, the complaint says.
But on April 26, Lt. Ochs wrote a report to his supervisor, Chief Deputy Jay Alstadt, saying Sheriff David didn’t threaten anyone and “most certainly did not pull a gun.”
In testimony before the grand jury in March 2013, however, Lt. Ochs said the sheriff did point his gun at Mr. Vranesevich and then briefly at him and the wall as he “swung around,” according to the complaint.
Then, at a preliminary hearing the following month, Lt. Ochs said the sheriff never pointed the gun at Mr. Vranesevich.
Lt. Ochs is charged with unsworn falsification in regard to the April 26, 2012, report he wrote to Deputy Alstadt; false swearing involving his testimony at a court proceeding on Feb. 10 of this year; obstructing administration of law in connection to the April 26 report and interviews with troopers; and hindering apprehension by lying to protect Sheriff David.
Jury selection in the case against the sheriff is set for June 30.
Torsten Ove: email@example.com or 412-263-1510. First Published June 4, 2014 2:35 PM