Charges against Cyril H. Wecht to be dismissed
U.S. Attorney Mary Beth Buchanan announced at a Tuesday morning press conference that her office is dropping prosectuion of former Allegheny County Coroner Cyril Wecht.
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U.S. Attorney Mary Beth Buchanan this morning filed a motion to dismiss all of the charges against former Allegheny County Coroner Dr. Cyril H. Wecht.
In a news conference, the prosecutor said that a ruling by U.S. District Judge Sean J. McLaughlin last month suppressing crucial evidence in the case severely hampered any chance her office would have to move forward.
Though the charges filed against Dr. Wecht more than three years ago have been dismissed, Ms. Buchanan said she still believes that a crime was committed.
"However, in our society everyone is innocent until proven guilty," she said. "As we stand here today, he's still innocent.
"If I could have a do-over, I'd still bring the case."
Judge McLaughlin found in a 55-page opinion that search warrants filed in the case were too general. Specifically, the warrants related to boxes of private autopsy files that were found in Dr. Wecht's private offices, as well as a laptop computer used by his administrative assistant. Both were found to be deficient.
The judge wrote in his opinion that had a supporting affidavit of probable cause been attached to the warrant applications, the problem would have been resolved.
Ms. Buchanan admitted that a mistake was made by not attaching the paperwork, but she continued, it was left out so as not to reveal too much information about the ongoing investigation.
"This is something I doubt will ever happen again in the Western District of Pennsylvania."
Dr. Wecht was indicted in January 2006 on charges that he misused his public office for private gain. His trial ended in a hung jury last year.
First Published June 2, 2009 9:24 am