Defense: FBI Falsified Probable Cause Affidavit

Article excerpt

Attorneys for Dr. Cyril H. Wecht on Monday called for charges against the former coroner to be dismissed, accusing prosecutors and the FBI of a cover-up "in a win-at-all-costs attitude."

Defense attorney Jerry McDevitt, in a 23-page court document, accused Assistant U.S. Attorney Stephen Stallings and the lead investigator, Special Agent Bradley Orsini, of crafting a false affidavit in 2005 that led to much of the evidence in the case and then concealing the truth through the federal trial, which ended this month in a mistrial.

"The government knew Orsini had falsified his probable cause affidavit for years but never told the defense or this court," McDevitt wrote. "Instead, the government removed him from the warrant process, made a prosecutorial decision never to sponsor him as a witness and went into a cover-up mode."

The U.S. Attorney's Office and the FBI declined to comment.

Wecht, 77, of Squirrel Hill is accused of using his office while Allegheny County coroner for private gain. Prosecutors claim he schemed to defraud county taxpayers and swindled private clients.

In a section titled "Attempted Concealment and Removal of Evidence," the affidavit stated that a coroner's office employee told investigators that files from Wecht's private cases were removed from the coroner's office when news broke of a federal investigation.

The employee, Don Kanai, told investigators the boxes were removed on Feb. 10, 2005, according to Kanai's FBI interview report and his grand jury testimony. The news article in which District Attorney Stephen A. …