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Charges dropped against homeless man found in presidential suite of Downtown hotel

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Jeffrey Watson, a homeless man, was found sleeping inside the presidential suite of the Omni William Penn Hotel, Downtown, on Tuesday, Nov. 5, 2013.

Prosecutors on Monday withdrew charges against a homeless man who was found squatting inside the presidential suite of the Omni William Penn Hotel, Downtown, more than 10 months ago.

Jeffrey Watson, 48, was charged with criminal trespass and theft of services for sleeping on a couch inside the $2,500-a-night suite in November.

Guests of the hotel called security when they walked in on Watson. Security escorted him from the hotel, and police arrested and charged him.

Police said Watson had no photo identification but told officers he was from Los Angeles and passing through the area on his way home.

Watson had been in the Allegheny County Jail since his arrest on Nov. 6, unable to post $15,000 bail. Court records do not list a lawyer for Watson.

Mike Manko, spokesman for the Allegheny County District Attorney’s Office, said he did not know why prosecutors withdrew the charges and could not comment.

Jeremy Rosen, director of advocacy for the National Law Center on Homelessness & Poverty in Washington, D.C., applauded the move to withdraw the charges.

“I certainly don’t think it’s productive to charge somebody in that situation and have them spend time in jail,” Rosen said. “Instead, they should be trying to connect him with local service groups to help him find a job, housing and benefits.”

A front desk manager at the hotel referred calls to the chain’s director of marketing, who did not respond to a request for comment.

The 17-floor, four-star hotel was built in 1916 and has 597 rooms, including 38 suites. Police said the presidential suite is on the 16th floor.

Adam Brandolph is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-391-0927 or [email protected].

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