Coraopolis detective avoids contempt trial

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A Coraopolis police officer will not face a contempt of court trial after failing to appear in court for a drug trafficking case, a judge ruled Friday.

The officer, Anthony Barravecchio, had been cited by Common Pleas Judge Anthony Mariani for failure to appear after he was subpoenaed for a drug trafficking trial Sept. 2.

In a hearing Friday morning, the officer's defense attorney, Michele Kondrad Santicola, argued that Detective Barravecchio had been on a task force assignment the night before that trial, and he feared he would not be able to make it. He also felt unneeded at the trial because he was just a backup officer on the arrest.

Judge Mariani expressed empathy for the officer's concerns. But he was offended by complaints from the judge's staff that the detective was bullyish and intimidating toward the court staff when he tried to excuse himself from the trial in a phone call to the judge's chambers.

The judge's tipstaff, minute clerk and secretary each received a call. Each said the officer, who did not identify himself by name, berated them, dropped the name of a federal agency to which he is attached in the task force, and threatened to file complaints against them.

Ultimately, the drug case had to be postponed after the officer was unable to make the 9 a.m. start of the trial.

However, Judge Mariani said that to order a trial on contempt charges against a law enforcement officer, "would be counterproductive."

Detective Barravecchio was with Mr. Roethlisberger in Milledgeville, Ga., earlier this year when the Steelers quarterback was accused of sexually assaulting a college student.

Officer Barravecchio described himself to investigators as Mr. Roethlisberger's friend and "assistant" who receives payment in kind, such as trips, for his help. The officer has repeatedly claimed he did nothing wrong and was never disciplined in connection with that incident.

His boss, Coraopolis Police Chief Alan DeRusso, and Robinson Chief Dale Vietmeier, both of whose departments assign officers to the task force, asked the judge to allow them to handle the discipline for the detective's behavior.


Jim McKinnon: jmckinnon@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1939.


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