Pagans formally arraigned

Barbara S. Miller/Observer-Reporter

Returning to Washington County jail, from left, are Matthew Vasquez, Brian A. Keruskin and Paul A. Cochran.

Several men charged with attempted homicide were formally arraigned Friday afternoon in Washington County Court before Judge John DiSalle in connection with a brutal assault by alleged members of the Pagan Motorcycle Club last April in Charleroi.

The judge set Monday, Dec. 9, as the date for jury selection, and Deputy District Attorneys Leslie Ridge and Jason Walsh notified the defendants they are to be tried together, known as “joinder.”

Attorney Ryan Tutera, who represents Joseph Olinsky, 46, of McKeesport, expects to be defending another client in a homicide case Dec. 9 in Allegheny County Court.

He called the Washington County trial date of Olinsky and co-defendants “a paper date,” noting that the prosecution must diligently pursue trial for those who are incarcerated within 180 days of their arrests.

“It’s realistic from the Commonwealth’s perspective,” Walsh said. “We’re ready to go.”

Two other defense attorneys said they already have conflicting trial dates on their calendars.

Defendants in the case are being held in several area jails, and, except for three incarcerated in the Washington County Correctional Facility, they appeared in court via video hookup.

Many sheriff’s deputies were assigned to keep watch over the courtroom, where Obie, the department’s sniffer dog, checked the premises.

DiSalle informed all defendants of their rights to file pre-trial motions.

Six of the defendants have appealed the denial of bond to state Superior Court. Although an order earlier this month noted a single panel of jurists is to handle all six cases, attorney Peter Marcoline III, who represents Matthew James Vasquez, 30, of Monessen, said he has not yet been notified of a date to appear before the appellate court.

Corey Adam Volk, 24, of West Newton, brought up possible release from the Greene County jail. He is one of the defendants who has appealed the issue to Superior Court.

Charged with attempted homicide, aggravated assault, related conspiracies and simple assault are, along with Volk, Olinsky and Vasquez, are Paul Cochran, 54, of Charleroi; John Sadvary, 39, of Penn Hills; Joshua Pagliei, 43, of Monongahela; and Jason Huff, 40, of Plum.

Brian A. Keruskin, 57, of Charleroi, faces charges of conspiracy to attempt homicide, conspiracy to commit both aggravated and simple assault, plus solicitation to tamper with or fabricate evidence.

Prosecutors have not revealed a motive in the April 18 assault of Troy Harris at the Slovak Club bar, 700 McKean Ave., Charleroi, on April 18. Harris had left the Pagans to join a rival group known as Sutars Soldiers.

Harris suffered severe head trauma, causing him to have a stroke and cognitive problems, according to court testimony of his wife, Michele.

Also charged with conspiracy but arraigned earlier this month were Zachary Yagnich, 27, a club officer who let the alleged assailants into the bar, and Vasquez’s fiancée at the time, Jamie Granato, 28, of Monessen.

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