A district judge Tuesday found Whitaker Mayor John Karichko guilty on a summary charge of public drunkenness -- and did so in absentia when the mayor was roughly 10 minutes late for the hearing.
But the bigger story might be the mayor's speculation that his citation was triggered by an ugly episode of borough politics that has involved the Allegheny County district attorney's office.
Mr. Karichko, 50, was cited after a Feb. 14 encounter at 8:15 p.m. with Whitaker police Officer Shannon Wintruba.
The mayor said in an interview Tuesday that he had two or three beers that evening over several hours at a local saloon, Tester's Bar, where he was watching a hockey game.
He drove the several blocks to his home on Magnolia Street.
On the handwritten citation, Officer Wintruba wrote: "Def[endant] did appear in a public place under the influence of a [sic] alcoholic beverage to a degree that he may endanger himself or others ... Def was very belligerent towards me."
Mr. Karichko said that if he was, why did Officer Wintruba let him go and not file a report until the next day?
The mayor said he believes the citation was linked to an executive session he attended the night before during which he told two unnamed council members that he turned statements over to prosecutors from residents who were asked to take part in an unauthorized investigation.
The council members, the mayor alleged, "instructed [Officer Wintruba] to initiate an unauthorized investigation on three police officers."
Mike Manko, spokesman for District Attorney Stephen A. Zappala Jr., said, "We received information from the mayor involving concerns about one of the police officers."
Officer Wintruba and police Chief John Vargo declined comment.
Jonathan D. Silver: firstname.lastname@example.org, 412-263-1962 or on Twitter @jsilverpg.