Sentencing delayed for Operation Pork Chop mastermind
Ronald M. “Porky” Melocchi will pass his 56th birthday before his sentencing on charges pressed by state investigators in their probe of a reputed McKeesport area gambling ring.
At the request of his attorney, Melocchi’s hearing before Allegheny County Common Pleas Judge Joseph K. Williams III was postponed from Monday until Feb. 24 at 9 a.m.
It will come nearly five months after Melocchi’s Oct. 1 guilty plea before Williams to one count each of corrupt organizations, gambling devices and bookmaking.
And it’s nearly two months after the second birthday he will mark under the cloud of a state investigation called Operation Pork Chop.
Defense attorney Bruce A. Carsia said he had a scheduling conflict Monday and was forced to seek the continuance. He still plans to provide three to five character witnesses for the hearing.
“They will testify about his reputation in the community and his involvement in the community,” Carsia said.
While Melocchi lives in West Newton, in McKeesport he was president of its recreation board, which is responsible for planning events such as an Easter egg hunt, fishing derby at Lake Emilie, the Labor Day weekend rib cook-off, Halloween and Salute to Santa parades and the annual Festival of Trees.
The office of state Attorney General Kathleen G. Kane could not be reached for comment. Two senior deputy attorneys general were lead prosecutors in “Operation Pork Chop,” which produced 16 indictments in September 2013 and 16 guilty pleas since.
In return for admitting to one felony and two misdemeanor counts — the corrupt organizations plea was the first admission of a felony from any Operation Pork Chop defendant — state Senior Deputy Attorney General Michael M. Ahwesh withdrew three other felony and 51 other misdemeanor charges against Melocchi, including 48 of distributing gambling devices.
Patrick Cloonan is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-664-9161, ext. 1967, or [email protected].