Trooper ordered to quit working for Roethlisberger
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The Pennsylvania State Police Wednesday barred a trooper who accompanied Ben Roethlisberger on his ill-fated Georgia bar crawl from working off-duty as the quarterback's assistant.
Trooper Edward J. Joyner, 42, of Upper St. Clair, has been working for Mr. Roethlisberger since 2005 when his bosses approved a "supplementary employment application."
A state police spokeswoman announced the decision a short time after NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell suspended Mr. Roethlisberger for up to six games for unbecoming conduct during an outing in Milledgeville, Ga., last month that ended with him being accused of rape.
Authorities did not charge Mr. Roethlisberger, but the local district attorney made clear that he thought little of the March 4-5 bar-hopping during which underage women said the quarterback furnished them with alcohol.
State police are continuing to review the case file released by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation to determine if any other action is warranted against Trooper Joyner, a 16-year veteran stationed at the Washington barracks.
Other aspects of the internal investigation could include an examination of whether Trooper Joyner prevented a friend of Mr. Roethlisberger's accuser from reaching the woman inside a nightclub bathroom where she allegedly was trapped with the quarterback.
Ann Marie Lubatti told Georgia investigators that she approached Trooper Joyner inside Capital City nightclub when she could not find her friend, who was drunk, and told him the woman should not be with Mr. Roethlisberger.
"He couldn't look me in the eye and told me he didn't know what was going on," Ms. Lubatti said in her statement.
Trooper Joyner told investigations that he did not stop anyone from going into the hallway area of the bar.
Lt. Myra A. Taylor said Trooper Joyner violated the stipulations of his supplemental application approval and exceeded the scope of his job description.
As a result, Lt. Taylor said, "he is alleged to have demeaned the image of the department."
Permission to work the moonlighting job was rescinded Monday, according to a document provided by the state police.
In 2005 Trooper Joyner asked for permission to work five to 10 hours a week as Mr. Roethlisberger's driver and assistant.
Those jobs entailed chauffeuring the player to home games, autograph sessions, charity events and the airport. Other duties included collecting fan mail and fielding phone calls.
In Georgia, Trooper Joyner's duties apparently included paying Mr. Roethlisberger's bar tab (he told investigators he settled one for $160 in cash), preventing people from taking pictures of the star while he was holding alcohol and ensuring that only women were allowed into a VIP section in the club that was the site of the alleged rape.
Trooper Joyner told investigators in Georgia that he and Mr. Roethlisberger "had a friendship that developed into a job."
Between 2005 and 2006, Trooper Joyner said, the quarterback "became a star" and "his life got difficult."
"Roethlisberger asked Joyner for assistance in shopping, getting him cars, and other activities. Joyner stated he is Roethlisberger's personal assistant. Joyner does anything he is asked," the report continued.
"Joyner is normally with Roethlisberger in public but does not go everywhere with Roethlisberger. When Joyner is with Roethlisberger in public he advises Roethlisberger where the restroom, entrance and exits are located, assists in getting a bouncer or security for assistance and helps with overzealous fans."
Another police officer whose conduct is being scrutinized in relation to the Roethlisberger incident is Anthony J. Barravecchio, a Coraopolis officer assigned to a federal Drug Enforcement Administration task force at Pittsburgh International Airport.
Officer Barravecchio, also a friend of Mr. Roethlisberger's, was present for the Georgia evening out as well.
Several women said they saw Mr. Barravecchio escort or drag the accuser to a back room at the nightclub where she allegedly encountered Mr. Roethlisberger.
Mr. Barravecchio has denied the accusation through his lawyer.
A copy of the Roethlisberger case file was sent Tuesday to the DEA, according to Tom Davis, GBI's special agent in charge of the Milledgeville field office.
"We're just reviewing that as it pertains to the task force officer to see if there are any issues there and to see if it would have any effect on his work on the drug task force," Bryan Doherty, a DEA spokesman said.
Officer Barravecchio told investigators that he was never employed by Mr. Roethlisberger but that he acts as his "assistant."
He said the quarterback gives him "non-monetary items including trips in exchange" for his help.
Nima Zarrabi, director of marketing and public relations for Rep 1 Sports Group, the agency representing Mr. Roethlisberger, was in Georgia with the group and said the officers see Roethlisberger "like a son, they look out for Roethlisberger, they do not drink, and they are in general protective of Roethlisberger, according to the report.
"At bigger events Joyner and Barravecchio have worked as security for Roethlisberger."
Another friend of the quarterback, Brian Jacobelli, told investigators "Joyner and Barravecchio generally make sure that no one causes any problems or gets in Roethlisberger's face."
Elizabeth Brooks, a patron at Capital City, described Officer Barravecchio's conduct at Capital City this way:
He "would reprimand people for taking photographs of Roethlisberger without his permission, and would take photographs at the request of the girls in the crowd; he would first clear this with Roethlisberger. Brooks described his demeanor as being 'stern' and stated that she saw him talking to Roethlisberger several times."
The Coraopolis Police Department has not sought a copy of the report from GBI.
Coraopolis police Chief Alan DeRusso last week was reluctant to discuss the situation.
"I thought this was dead," Chief DeRusso said. "I'm really getting tired of all of this stuff. I'm just going to leave it at that. The Georgia Bureau of Investigation called me. I talked to them. They said they didn't want anything from me, they didn't want anything from him."
First Published April 22, 2010 12:00 am