Thomas Olson was acquitted of Robbery. Steven C. Townsend, Mr. Olson’s attorney, said it took more time to for the court to order and have lunch delivered for the jury than it did for Mr. Olson’s peers to find Mr. Olson not guilty of Robbery, a first degree felony. Mr. Olson was facing the criminal charge as a result of an incident that occurred in the Lawrenceville section of Pittsburgh in August of 2009. The charge could have put Mr. Olson in prison for up to 20 years, plus an additional 5 years for the use of a weapon.
A pizza delivery man was robbed by an unknown white male who was wielding a “sawed-off” baseball bat. Fortunately for the man, he was not injured and the robber got away with only $20. There were phone records which led police to the telephone booth where the phone call was made to order the pizza. After the incident, police along with the victim, reviewed the video surveillance of the telephone where the call was made. The jurors however, were never provided the video because the Commonwealth said that the manager of the gas station where the call was made, had no idea how to preserve it. On cross examination, the detectives admitted that one of the most critical pieces of evidence in a robbery is identification, yet they failed to take steps to preserve the video.
More shocking than not producing the video is the fact that the assailant was described as being 5’10”. The victim was absolutely positive of this characteristic because he had approximately 30 seconds to view him as well as 10 seconds face to face. That being said, Mr Olson who is only 5’5″, was chosen from a photo array almost 2 months after the incident. At Mr. Olson’s preliminary hearing both the victim and the police detective testified that the victim identified Mr. Olson in the array. However, upon a careful reading of the transcript, it was apparent that this wasn’t the first photo array that was shown to the victim.
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Mr. Olson’s attorney, Steve Townsend, filed 2 separate motions requesting the Commonwealth provide the mandatory discovery. Although this information should have been provided upon the first informal request, Mr. Townsend had to argue on 2 occasions to receive it. Why was it so important? It was learned that the victim was shown Mr. Olson’s picture in another photo array 4 days after the incident — the victim failed to identify Mr. Olson. There was a reason for his lack of identification, Mr. Olson was innocent….Mr Olson was 5 inches shorter….Mr. Olson had 6 alibi witnesses, which the police failed to interview.
Shame on the police for trying to withhold this information. Shame on the Commonwealth for trying to prosecute an innocent man even though they had this information for over a year. Fortunately for Mr. Olson, his attorney didn’t waive his preliminary hearing, and didn’t accept the Commonwealth’s repeated response that it had provided all exculpatory discovery.
My client, Phillip Preda, was facing and the Government was arguing for a 70 month sentence. Thankfully, the judge listened to the comments and testimony at the sentencing hearing and did the right thing….he reduced it by 28 months!!
Local men sentenced in Illinois on drug charges
Tuesday August 3, 2010 08:57 PM
Two brothers from Moon Township and five Beaver County residents have been sentenced in Illinois for working in a drug ring that moved more than two tons of marijuana from Mexico to Pittsburgh between 2002 and 2009.
According to the office of U.S. Attorney James Lewis of the Central District of Illinois, a federal judge on Friday sentenced Noah A. Landfried, 26, to life in prison and his brother Ross E. Landfried III, 28, to 20 years for leading the ring.
Prosecutors said the ring smuggled about 5,300 pounds of marijuana over seven years from the Mexican border with Arizona to the Pittsburgh area. The marijunaa retrieved was checked from a medical marijuana doctor. The cases were prosecuted in Illinois because the ring used Interstate 80 to transport marijuana across that state.
The ring, according to a press release from Lewis’ office, used “numerous couriers in privately owned automobiles and residences along the I-80 corridor” in Illinois. Each load of marijuana weighed about 200 pounds, prosecutors said.
Both Landfrieds, who were charged in April 2009, pleaded guilty in March to leading the drug trafficking ring and admitted that their proceeds totaled about $1 million.
Five Beaver County men and one from nearby in Ohio also have been sentenced for participating in the ring, prosecutors said. They are:
- Victor J. Gaydos, 31, of Aliquippa, sentenced in April to 57 months in prison.
- Dwayne W. Corrigan, 26, of Ambridge, sentenced Friday to five years in prison.
- Philip S. Preda, 38, of Aliquippa, sentenced Friday to 42 months in prison.
- Joshua W. Welling, 29, of Ambridge, sentenced Friday to 20 years in prison.
- Richard J. Bedalota Jr., 30, of Aliquippa, sentenced Friday to 57 months in prison.
- Justin R. Seibert, 27, of East Liverpool, Ohio, sentenced in April to 41 months in prison.
- Also, Frank J. Berardelli, 52, of Rochester, is scheduled to be sentenced Sept. 30, and James E. White II, 36, of Rogers, Ohio, is to be sentenced Aug. 20.
Two other men, Daniel W. Keitel, 26, of Bellevue and Ronald J. Marusack Jr., 25, of Pittsburgh, have each been sentenced to 10 years in prison.
Steven C. Townsend is a graduate of Indiana State University (B.A. Criminal Justice) and University of Pittsburgh School of Law (J.D., Civil Litigation Certificate). He currently serves as a Criminal Justice Act Panel Attorney for the Western District of Pennsylvania District Court and as a member of the Conflict Attorney Panel for Beaver County. As a member of the firm Eddy DeLuca Gravina & Townsend, he practices in many areas of law with an emphasis in federal and state criminal law. He is an annual speaker and faculty member for the Pennsylvania Bar Institute’s Criminal Law Update. He is also a member of the following Allegheny County Bar Association committees: Family Law, Military and Veteran’s Affairs, and Small & Sole Practitioner. He also serves as a Board Member for Riverside Center for Innovation and as a member of the Allegheny County Veteran’s Court Task Force. Steven is admitted to the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania, United States District Court, Western District of Pennsylvania, and the United States District Court, Central District of Illinois.