Pennsylvania Deputies Say They Were Ordered To Do Yard Work
PITTSBURGH (AP) -- An Allegheny County deputy sheriff told a federal jury that a captain in the department twice ordered deputies to do landscaping work at Chief Deputy Dennis Skosnik's home.
''The first year, we planted bushes and laid some river rock in his back yard,'' Deputy Sheriff Wayne Davin testified Monday. ''It was like seven or eight tons of river rock.''
This occurred in the fall of 1999, he said. In spring 2000, he and three other deputies ''cleared grass from an area that was going to be poured with concrete the next day,'' Davin said.
Davin was testifying in the perjury trial of Capt. Frank E. Schiralli of the sheriff's department.
Prosecutors said Schiralli, 53, of McKees Rocks, lied when he told a federal grand jury he never pressured sheriff's department employees to financially support Sheriff Pete DeFazio's re-election campaign, and he didn't keep a list of who bought tickets to special events supporting DeFazio.
Davin said the landscaping incidents reinforced his belief that some members of the department's command staff expected deputies to give whatever support was demanded to DeFazio. Davin said he feared he might be transferred or be put on another shift if he didn't comply.
Six deputies testified Monday that Schiralli handed out tickets and kept lists on his desk.
''I was certainly intimidated when he handed me the tickets,'' Deputy Rebecca Klobucher said. ''I knew he had a lot of control.''
She described seeing a list written in green marker when Schiralli gave her tickets to an event during her first month on the job.
''Capt. Schiralli would track the numbers on the tickets,'' Deputy Ronald Daurora told jurors. ''There was always a roster. He'd mark you off when you got the ticket and when you paid.''
Schiralli's attorney has called the case a ''witch hunt.''
Under cross-examination, deputies have said Schiralli never explicitly threatened to fire or transfer them for not contributing to DeFazio's events.
Skosnik had an unlisted phone and couldn't immediately be reached for comment Monday night. DeFazio's executive assistant, Michael Mullen Jr., said neither Skosnik nor DeFazio would comment on the allegations.
Another member of the department's command staff awaits a separate trial. Both he and Schiralli have been suspended with pay since they were indicted in May.
Information from: The Record-Argus