Wednesday, December 16, 2009

[Shenandoah] Pa. police accused of cover-up to have bail hearing

Pa. police accused of cover-up to have bail hearing -
SHENANDOAH, Pa. (AP) — After taking part in a fight that left a Mexican immigrant mortally wounded on the street, teenagers Brandon Piekarsky and Derrick Donchak fled. They didn't get very far before running into two police officers responding to a 911 call about the assault.

These were no ordinary officers. Patrolman Jason Hayes dated Piekarsky's mother, and Lt. William Moyer's son played with Piekarsky on the high school football team. Their commanding officer, Chief Matthew Nestor, was a friend of Piekarsky's mother and even vacationed with her.

Rather than place the popular white football players under arrest, the officers let them go — beginning a cover-up in their racially tense coal town, federal prosecutors allege.

The Department of Justice said Tuesday that Hayes, Moyer and Nestor have been indicted on obstruction charges for trying to "impede, obstruct and influence the investigation" into the July 2008 beating death of Luis Ramirez by tampering with evidence and witnesses or lying to the FBI.

The former athletes, who were acquitted of the most serious state charges against them in May, are charged with a federal hate crime for attacking Ramirez in a park as they headed home from a party, the Department of Justice said.

The police chief and his second in command, Jamie Gennarini, were charged with extortion and civil rights violations in a separate case. The two are accused of extorting cash payoffs from illegal gambling operations and demanding a $2,000 payment from a local businessman in 2007 to release him from their custody.

The arrests left the borough with only three active-duty police officers. Borough officials have asked the state police to help out "until we work through this dilemma," said Borough Manager Joseph Palubinsky, who declined to comment on the indictment.....

Death of Immigrant Leads to Federal Charges

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