PITTSBURGH (KDKA/AP) – A local lawmaker has been fined $50 plus court costs for disorderly conduct after authorities dropped a charge that he smoked marijuana while tailgating last month outside a Pittsburgh Steelers game.
Police had accused State Rep. Paul Costa of passing a marijuana cigarette to another man in the Heinz Field parking lot prior to the Oct. 3 game against the Baltimore Ravens.
Through his attorney, Costa had repeatedly denied the allegation, but in court this morning he pleaded guilty to a lesser charge of disorderly conduct.
Magistrate Kevin Cooper accepted the plea and fined Costa $50 dollar plus court costs, which will amount to another $137.
Costa’s attorney, Phil Dilucente, said the lawmaker accepted the plea rather than contesting the marijuana charge to avoid the time and expense of a trial.
“Considering the time and money it would cost to go to trial, it was in his best interests at this juncture just to plea guilty to the one count of disorderly conduct, which is essentially a fine of $50,” said Dilucente. “That’s what the judge ruled. It’s something local magistrates will give to people for speeding tickets instead of taking the speeding offense.”
KDKA’s Andy Sheehan: “By doing this, he’s not admitting that he used marijuana?”
Dilucente: “The incident occurred on Oct. 3. I’m not going to discuss that, that’s in the past. He looks forward to his future, serving his community.”
Legally that is the end of it, Costa needs merely to pay the fine and the matter is closed.
Whether he will face further political fallout because of this is an open question. However, Costa’s attorney said he has received numerous calls in support of the state representative.