PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — State Rep. Paul Costa has represented the Wilkins-Churchill-Braddock-Forest Hills area for 12 years.
He just won a 7th term without an opponent.
But now he faces an embarrassing drug accusation that could land him in court and jeopardize his political future.
Costa faces a criminal misdemeanor charge for possession of marijuana, a charge levied by Pittsburgh Police Sergeant Steve Matakovich and Officer Lee Alex Myers.
Costa’s attorney, Phil DiLucente, says Costa is innocent.
“He did not at any time smoke a marijuana cigarette. He did not at any time touch a marijuana cigarette. He does not do those types of things, nor does he want to be around people that do that,” says DiLucente.
But police say they were patrolling the corner of Reedsdale and Tony Dorsett Drive before the Steelers-Ravens game in October when they saw Costa and his friend Mitchell Brourman smoking dope.
Costa and Brourman were tailgating in Lot 7C just outside Heinz Field when police allege they smelled marijuana. They say they saw Costa take a drag on a joint and then hand it to his friend Brourman. When the police confronted them, Brourman dropped the joint, and the two of them said together, “You got us.”
That’s unbelievable, says Attorney DiLucente.
“That would mean that two persons in concerto were confessing to some type of crime,” says DiLucente.
DiLucente believes, with thousands tailgating and hundreds smoking, Costa is likely the victim of mistaken identity.
“A lot of times trying cases you find out that people believe they have seen things that they truly haven’t seen or they have a mistaken identity,” says DiLucente.
Like most fans, Costa was in jeans and Steelers garb, perhaps confusing the cops, says DiLucente, as they observed from a hundred yards away.
“I could see where they may not have quite seen what they believe they have seen,” says DiLucente.
But the officers say they retrieved the joint from the ground near Brourman and found more marijuana in Brourman’s car.
Attorney DiLucente said he could not comment on the charges against Brourman.
But he insists Costa is innocent.
A preliminary hearing on all this is set for next Wednesday morning.