North Side shop owner accused of lying about Pittsburgh police commander
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A North Side cigar shop owner has been charged with a series of crimes stemming from a protection-from-abuse order he sought against a Pittsburgh police commander this spring.
The Allegheny County district attorney's office said Andrew M. Lee, 45, obtained the order against Cmdr. RaShall Brackney in the face of a zoning board hearing dealing with a litany of problems and plans to expand his business, Executive Cigars in the 600 block of Suismon Street.
He wrote in the May application for the order that he had been in an intimate relationship with Cmdr. Brackney of the North Side station. He said she had threatened to "do whatever it takes to get him" and he feared for his life after he broke off their romance.
A judge later that month ruled that Mr. Lee's claims were without merit, saying at a PFA hearing that "there is not one scintilla of evidence that there is a relationship established under the Protection From Abuse Act."
At the time the order was filed against her, Cmdr. Brackney was prepared to testify against Mr. Lee at a zoning board hearing dealing with his efforts to legally operate an after-hours club in addition to the cigar shop. It had been labeled a trouble spot for years by neighbors.
A district attorney investigator wrote in a criminal complaint against Mr. Lee that he lied about conversations he said he had with the commander and sent her harassing text messages, among other offenses.
Mr. Lee is charged with unsworn falsification to authorities, obstructing administration of the law, intimidation of witnesses and stalking. The district attorney's office said he will be notified of the charges via summons.
Mr. Lee said he has not seen the criminal complaint against him but is "confident things will work out when the truth comes out."
He said he has recently reopened his shop from noon to midnight and business has been running smoothly.
"As time plays out all things will be revealed in the light," Mr. Lee said. "We will come out victorious."
Cmdr. Brackney couldn't immediately be reached.
Warner Macklin III, who acted as her spokesman earlier this year, said she only recently learned of the charges against Mr. Lee.
Mr. Macklin said he would speak to her later today.
The district attorney's office, "weighed the evidence and thought these charges were warranted," Mr. Macklin said.
First Published October 1, 2012 12:19 am