West Mifflin ex-police chief to be sentenced for federal crimes

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, post-gazette.com
BYLINE: Jan Ackerman / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Link to Article

Mifflin, PA

West Mifflin's former police chief is scheduled to be sentenced in federal court for drug convictions and obstruction of justice tomorrow, even as state and federal officials continue to comb through years of events in their search for corruption in the borough's police department.

Investigators have found evidence that drugs, guns and borough equipment were stolen from the police department, people the police arrested were kicked and abused, evidence was planted on people, public records were tampered with and perjured testimony was offered to justify it.

Over the years, investigators found that seven video gambling machines disappeared from the police department's property room.

The investigation has centered on former police Chief Frank Diener, a 27-year veteran of the department who resigned in October 2005 and was arrested last summer.

On Feb. 8, one of his top assistants, former Detective Noel Missig, also was arrested.

Initially, Mr. Missig was suspended without pay, but council voted 6-0 Feb. 20 to terminate him from the police force.

Mayor John Andzelik, who has been concerned about the activities of the police department since he became mayor in 2001, said Mr. Missig was terminated because he violated the borough's standard operating procedures.

"When I became mayor, things started popping up," Mr. Andzelik, a former police chief, said this week.

The mayor said he reported some of the problems to outside agencies, but had a hard time getting anyone to take a look at them.

"It took me 31/2 years," he said.

Whether the probe goes deeper into the department remains to be seen.

"It is pretty discouraging," said Councilman Richard Olasz, who has been raising questions about the activities of the police department for years.

"A cloud of suspicion hangs over the whole police department," Mr. Olasz said.

Mr. Diener, of West Mifflin, pleaded guilty to federal drug charges and obstruction of justice. He is to be sentenced tomorrow by U.S. District Judge Joy Flowers Conti.

He and Mr. Missig, 39, of West Mifflin, are awaiting trial on state charges.

As far as the criminal investigation goes, it is clear that federal and state authorities have been looking back more than five years for evidence of illegal acts.

One of the charges against Mr. Missig, simple assault, dates to Dec. 23, 2001. In that case, he is accused of kicking a juvenile in the ribs while the youth was prone and handcuffed and then trying to choke the youth.

They also charged Mr. Missig with tampering with public records and giving false information on a police report filed May 24, 2000, related to the discovery of video poker machines at a location in the borough.

In Mr. Diener's case, authorities say that, since 2001, he has stolen computer equipment, several trailers, tools, generators and shredders from the borough.

In one case, authorities say, Mr. Diener hid a skid loader that had been stolen from Three Rivers Ford in Sewickley in 1994 at the Clairton Sportsman Club. Last March, state and federal agents recovered the loader, valued at $21,000, from the sports club.

He also is accused of creating slush funds valued at more than $6,000 that enabled him to buy things for himself and others.

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