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Pittsburgh police officer faces prostitution and drug charges

Last week, a 16-year veteran of the Pittsburgh police force was arrested and arraigned on charges of promoting prostitution, purchasing drugs, insurance fraud, making false reports to law enforcement and obstruction of justice.

Police began investigating the 43-year-old defendant and resident of Brookline back in April when area police stopped a man in a rental car. When searching the vehicle, they found the name of a missing woman written on a piece of paper. Although the Pittsburgh police officer has not been implicated in the disappearance, police were interested as to why a missing woman's name was written on the piece of paper that was found within the car, and they interviewed the occupants of the vehicle.

When searching the rented car, officers allegedly found drugs. Upon interviewing the occupants of the rented car, one of the occupants allegedly told officers that the 43-year-old defendant had rented the vehicle.

Police later traced Internet advertisements that were allegedly for prostitution to the defendant by looking at the billing address connected to the ads. The drug charges stem from allegations that police officers observed the defendant while he drove people to the North Side of town, where his associates purchased heroin.

The insurance fraud charges stem from the allegations of one witness, who claims that she was driving to a job in a vehicle that the defendant had rented when she ran into a tree. Allegedly, the defendant informed the insurance company that a hit-and-run driver inflicted the resulting damage.

In a case like this, much of the evidence against the defendant comes in the form of witness testimony. A jury's verdict in cases of this type often depends on which witnesses the jurors believe to be most credible. When witness credibility is an issue, a skilled defense attorney's job requires a careful cross-examination of the witnesses arrayed against a defendant.

Source: Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, "Pittsburgh officer linked with prostitution, drug operation," Michael Hasch, Aug. 30, 2011

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