Friday, January 16, 2009

Death at Club Pittsburgh triggers police investigation

Death at Club Pittsburgh triggers police investigation
Pittsburgh police yesterday confirmed that they have opened a wide-ranging probe of a Strip District club where a 31-year-old Youngstown man was found dead this month.

The body of Cleophus Pettway was discovered Jan. 4 in a private room at Club Pittsburgh, a popular meeting spot for gay men at 1139 Penn Ave. that was the focus of a June complaint to the city about illicit sexual activity.

The Allegheny County medical examiner's office is awaiting the results of toxicology tests before determining what happened to Mr. Pettway, but his death has pushed police to take a closer look at the club.

"It's just a general investigation to see if there is any criminal activity," said police Cmdr. Cheryl Doubt, head of the narcotics and vice squad.

Rick Watling, an attorney for the club's owners, Peter Karlovich and Steven Herforth, said his clients are cooperating with police.

"Above all else, Club Pittsburgh is most concerned about the tragic loss of Mr. Pettway and extends sympathy to his family and friends," Mr. Watling said in an e-mail.

A source who was briefed by detectives involved with the case said the theory is that Mr. Pettway's death was precipitated by the inhalation of a video head cleaner spray sometimes used as an intoxicant.

Neither Cmdr. Doubt nor Mr. Watling would comment on that theory, but, a Web site affiliated with Club Pittsburgh, advertised the sale of Maximum Impact, a "premium head cleaning solvent" in an aerosol can, as recently as Dec. 29...

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