Now Pagans Motorcycle Club national president Dennis Katona is being sued by Verizon Communications Inc. for $5,388. The suit originated with an October 2011 traffic accident. Katona was confined to his home and was being monitored electronically at the time.
An impaired driver named Ronald S. Thomas struck an utility pole owned by Verizon while driving Katona’s car. It is unclear whether Thomas had Katona’s permission to use the vehicle. Thomas pled guilty to driving under the influence and had his license suspended for two months. Katona, who has been impoverished by an ongoing drug case, did not have insurance for the vehicle.
Katona disputed his liability in the accident but last month a Pennsylvania judge named Charles Christner ruled that Katona and his wife Sherri are responsible for Verizon’s pole. Verizon then filed suit against the Katonas and Thomas.
Katona was arrested in June 2011 when police claim a Swat raid led to the discovery of about three ounces of cocaine and three ounces of methamphetamine in the Katonas’ quiet suburban home. He spent a month in jail until he was assigned to home confinement on $500.000 bail. His case has been stalled since then.
The judge presiding over Katona’s case, Debra Pezze, has denied multiple requests to allow Katona to work. As of last December, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania had billed Katona $4,378 for fees associated with his case.
Katona is represented by Pittsburgh attorney Paul D. Boas in the drug case.
There may be some evidence that Katona was entrapped by a Pennsylvania State Trooper named Robert W. Stauffer. Stauffer helped plan the Swat raid that recovered the cocaine and methamphetamine from Katona’s home. Stauffer was suspended without pay as part of what a state police official termed an “ongoing investigation.” Boas has been trying since last December to obtain transcripts of testimony given before the grand jury that is investigating Staufer. The attorney has said publically that the transcripts may contain testimony that indicates Katona is innocent.
Evidence of the innocence of a defendant is formally called “Brady evidence,” after a 1963 Supreme Court ruling in Brady v. Maryland. The ruling compelled both federal and state prosecutors to disclose “exculpatory evidence” that would reinforce the official presumption of each defendant’s innocence. Generally, federal and state prosecutors have been ignoring the ruling for the past 60 years.
Since Katona is now broke and Boas does not handle civil cases, a judge named Gary Caruso signed an order yesterday that will allow a public defender to represent the Katonas in the Verizon law suit.
Katona’s trial for possession of old school and new school with intent to distribute is currently scheduled for next month.