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By Bobby Kerlik
Pittsburgh Tribune Review

WEST MIFFLIN, Pa. A West Mifflin police officer testified Monday that he witnessed former Detective Noel Missig plant cocaine in a suspect's sweatshirt during an arrest but never reported it.
"(Missig) picked up the red sweatshirt on the floor and slid the package in it," Officer Ronald Skillpa testified during the second day of Missig's trial on corruption charges. "When (the suspect) came in and pointed out the sweatshirt as his, Missig picked up the sweatshirt and found the package."
Missig, 40, of West Mifflin was fired in February 2007 after 12 years on the force. He faces an array of charges including perjury, simple assault, obstructing the administration of law and tampering with public records.
The suspect, Richard Jasek, testified he served 23 months in the Allegheny County Jail after pleading guilty for the drug possession. Missig and other officers came to arrest Jasek in March 2004 for an unrelated warrant at a friend's home.
"My lawyer told me it was the best thing to do. Who was going to believe me? I'm just a nobody," Jasek testified. "I already had a year in (jail) at that point. Otherwise, if I was convicted, I could have been facing more time."
Skillpa testified that he did not report Missig's actions because Missig and former West Mifflin police Chief Frank Diener were close friends.
"That was well known," Skillpa testified. "If I went to Chief Diener, nothing would happen to Missig but definitely it would have made its way back to me tenfold."
Defense attorney Steve Greenburg asked Skillpa why he didn't report the action to the District Attorney's Office.
"I didn't think it was a crime," Skillpa answered.
West Mifflin police Chief Joseph Popovich testified that while he served as a captain, a position just below the chief, he had to clear vacation requests through Missig, a detective.
"Nothing would have happened to Missig if anyone complained to Diener about him," Popovich testified. "It was my belief as well as the other officers' that he was (Diener's right-hand man)."
Last week West Mifflin police Sgt. Michael Ragan testified he feared retaliation if he reported Missig for assaulting a handcuffed juvenile suspect.
Missig's charges stem from an FBI and state police investigation that spanned four years and led to accusations that he assaulted the boy, planted drugs in Jasek's clothes and lied about the seizure of video poker machines from a borough business.
The investigation also led to federal and state charges against Diener, who resigned in October 2005. Diener was sentenced in May 2007 to a year and a day in federal prison for obstructing justice and violating federal drug laws. He pleaded guilty to 19 state charges but served both sentences together. He is released from prison.
The trial will resume Thursday before Allegheny County Common Pleas Judge David R. Cashman.

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