Aliquippa Investigation Continues to Derail
Aliquippa Assistant Police Chief Joseph Perciavalle III is facing a second criminal charge in connection with content found on his cell phone as part of the investigation into the death of teacher Rachael DelTondo, according to court records.
Assistant Chief Perciavalle, 43, of Aliquippa, is accused of secretly recording a 39-minute conversation between himself and police Chief Donald Couch on March 2, according to a criminal complaint. That’s the same day that Pennsylvania State Police executed a search warrant on Aliquippa city officesin connection with a grand jury investigation into allegations of theft.
In the recorded conversation, the pair discussed Aliquippa police, the pension fund, high school football and other topics, according to the complaint.
In Pennsylvania, one person cannot record a conversation with another person without both people’s permission. Chief Couch told investigators on June 29 that he never gave Assistant Chief Perciavalle permission to record the conversation.
Assistant Chief Perciavalle is charged with a single count of intercepting communications, a felony.
His attorney, Steven Townsend, said Tuesday that the complaint is “as written completely false.”
“There is a conversation on his cell phone, there’s no denying that, but the way it was recorded is definitely not as the affidavit reads,” Mr. Townsend said, adding that Assistant Chief Perciavalle denies any wrongdoing.
“I can’t get into specifics because there are other investigations going on,” the attorney said. “But there are certain exceptions under the wiretap act in which someone can be recorded — one [is] being in a public place, which this was.”
The complaint said Assistant Chief Perciavalle and Chief Couch “rode together on patrol” during the recorded conversation. Mr. Townsend said the pair was never in the same car.
“My client and Couch were not in the same patrol car when this conversation took place,” he said, and declined to elaborate.
Assistant Chief Perciavalle was also arrested in June on a separate felony charge of sending a sexually explicit video to a 17-year-old girl who later became a witness in Ms. DelTondo’s killing.
Authorities reviewed Assistant Chief Perciavalle’s phone records as part of the homicide investigation and discovered that he sent a video of a female urinating on a swing to the girl on May 10.
Assistant Chief Perciavalle was charged with sending the explicit video on June 8, two days after he took over as acting chief of the police department. He took leadership after Chief Couch was placed on paid administrative leave by city council for an unspecified reason that is not connected to the DelTondo investigation.
After Assistant Chief Perciavalle was arrested on June 8, longtime Capt. Robert Sealock was promoted to acting chief. He remains in the role.
Assistant Chief Perciavalle is scheduled to appear for preliminary hearings in both cases on Aug. 20.
Shelly Bradbury: 412-263-1999, email@example.com or follow @ShellyBradbury on Twitter.
First Published July 10, 2018, 1:05pm