A Connellsville woman said her co-worker made her write threatening letters to officials of the Mount Pleasant Area Junior Football League because he was unhappy with changes to league rules regarding the weight limit of players.
The threats, which escalated over about a month last fall, caused the popular youth football league to cancel its 50th anniversary season in October.
Kimberly Dawn Ross, 34, told state police that Joseph Vincent Loughner, 51, of Greensburg, persuaded her to write letters to the league secretary and president in September that would intimidate them into resigning.
Police on Friday charged the pair, who worked together at Miedels Restaurant in Connellsville, with terroristic threats, conspiracy to make terroristic threats and harassment.
Ms. Ross told police that Mr. Loughner wanted to get rid of league secretary/treasurer/referee/scheduler Ed Farzati. She said Mr. Loughner instructed her to write letters to Mr. Farzati “regarding the IRS, a letter about child porn from a Mexican ... and a letter about the weight limit with the threat ‘I will kill you,’” Trooper James McKenzie wrote in a police affidavit.
“Some changes in the league administration and rules, specifically the weight limit, [were] causing discontent with some parents,” the trooper wrote. “Injuries to players caused further discontent.”
Mr. Farzati resigned from his position with the league in September after he received four unsigned “threatening” and “harassing” letters over two weeks.
One letter included a Joker playing card with a sinking ship on the reverse side and a matchstick.
Letters were also sent to league president Rick Albright, one of which stated, “Now this is a threat, if 1 more kid gets hurt, I will kill you. Take it any way you want it and to the cops if you like. That is a promise. Take it to your grave,” police said. The letter was signed “The Joker.”
During the investigation, police said, they found 40 bullet shell casings by the gate of Hurst Stadium in Norvelt, where the league held games.
Several of the casings had the name “Rick” written on them in black marker, police said.
Reached by phone Friday, Mr. Albright said he had not been notified of the arrests and had no comment.
About 250 players on five teams play in the league. Each team has three divisions — the freshmen 7- to 9-year-olds, 10- and 11-year-old “juniors” and 12- to 14-year-old “seniors” — and about 100 cheerleaders.
Mr. Loughner and Ms. Ross could not be reached Friday.
Andrew Goldstein: firstname.lastname@example.org or 412-263-1352.
First Published March 4, 2016 1:28 PM