PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Former Pittsburgh mayoral candidate A.J. Richardson and his wife, Felicia, are now facing multiple charges, accused of making bogus calls to 911 that sent police to their home numerous times over the last few weeks.
The couple and two of their sons were taken into custody Friday just before 6:30 p.m., and then police spent much of evening searching their Sheraden home for evidence.
KDKA’s Susan Koeppen Reports:
Richardson and his wife were taken to Allegheny County Jail. Their two sons, ages 12 and 15, were taken to Shuman Juvenile Detention Center.
Animal Control officials took in the Richardson’s family dog.
Authorities say the calls began back on Feb. 9, and the city has spent more than $11,000 investigating and responding to them.
Since the investigation was opened on March 8, police say about 120 calls have come into their emergency operations center.
The long list of charges includes: abuse of 911, filing false reports to 911, harassment, obstruction of justice, intimidation, disorderly conduct and other criminal conspiracy counts.
Richardson claims he was being harassed and that he and his family never made the calls.
He has recorded the responding officers on cell phone video.
Police: “We need to see your wife, sir.”
Richardson: “I am done with this. I am done with this. In three weeks, you’ve been here 18 times. I was sleeping, my wife was sleeping. No.”
“First, it started off as a domestic disturbance, then it escalated to a woman being strangled, then it went from a woman being held at gunpoint,” said Richardson.
Earlier on Friday before the arrests, the Allegheny County District Attorney filed court papers calling Richardson’s allegations a rouse.
They produced phone records showing that each of the calls came from Richardson’s landline or a cell phone registered to a member of the Richardson family, sometimes with a woman caller saying, “Help me, help me.”
KDKA’s Andy Sheehan Reports:
The motion seeks to prohibit Richardson and his attorneys from introducing the incidents as evidence in Richardson’s upcoming trial on burglary and assault charges from September of last year, something Richardson alluded to in a recent interview.
“They’re trying to create some type of altercation between me and them to justify the bogus charges that was placed upon me Sept. 3 of last year,” he said.
In his motion, the district attorney says these allegations are a smokescreen intended to cloud the issue – that Richardson is a defendant accused of burglary and aggravated assault and he will be tried on those charges.
The Allegheny County District Attorney’s Office has released a statement following Friday’s arrest of Richardson and his wife.
It says: “The 911 system in Allegheny County is a lifeline for our community and all of our citizens. The use of the 911 system is a privilege that carries with it certain responsibilities. Although at this point these are merely charges that have yet to be proven, the charges filed today against A.J. Richardson and Felicia Richardson are the result of an exhaustive investigation into what we and the City of Pittsburgh Police believe to be one of the most egregious abuses of the 911 system in recent memory. By repeatedly engaging in the abuse of the 911 system, these two defendants potentially compromised the safety of other residents by needlessly occupying the time of police officers who were subsequently not available to respond to legitimate emergencies. Today’s arrests are a reminder that the 911 system exists for all of our safety, but can only accomplish that mission when used responsibly.”
Richardson remains behind bars on $30,000 straight bond. His wife has been released on her own recognizance.
Both face a preliminary hearing on April 14.