Aliquippa Sgt. Ken Watkins (left), wife Stephanie, and daughter Lauren speak with defense attorney Steven Townsend who is representing Joe Perciavalle / photo by John Paul

An Aliquippa police sergeant has accepted a voluntary demotion to patrolman after Beaver County District Attorney David Lozier told his department he would refuse to prosecute any criminal cases filed by the officer.

Kenneth Watkins volunteered to be demoted on December 21, as Aliquippa Mayor Dwan Walker attempted to hold a “Loudermill Hearing” for him without the city’s police chief being present, according to Councilman Matthew Mottes.

A Loudermill hearing is part of the due process requirements for civil service employees that often proceeds termination.

Mottes said he was notified that Walker was attempting to hold a hearing for Watkins as it was about to take place, and rushed to the city building along with Councilman Arthur Piroli.

In addition to Walker and Watkins, also present for the hearing were the city’s solicitor and labor counsel, along with a police union representative.

“I asked Dwan what was going on,” said Mottes.

“I was told Dwan just wanted to have a ‘conversation’ with Kenny (Watkins) to help ‘clear the air’ … The labor attorney was asking Dwan why he was even asked to be there.”

It was then that Kenneth Watkins volunteered to be demoted from sergeant to patrolman. Mottes said Watkins’ salary will remain unchanged.

“Watkins voluntarily took a demotion from sergeant to patrolman, which was unanimously agreed upon by council. Watkins expressed to council that he thought it was in the best interest of the department and that he did not want to be a continued distraction,” said Mottes.

“His salary will remain the same under provisions of the police contract.”

Mottes said Watkins had previously been a subject of discussion by council following a letter Lozier sent to the city in December, notifying them his office would refuse to prosecute any case filed by the officer.

Watkins had invoked his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination during a December 4 preliminary hearing for Aliquippa Assistant Police Chief Joseph Perciavalle, who is being prosecuted by Lozier’s office for sending an explicit text message to Watkins’ daughter Lauren.

Kenneth and Lauren Watkins have both expressed outrage that Lozier is prosecuting Perciavalle, and have said the text in question was sent by Perciavalle to Lauren accidentally as part of a group message. Kenneth said he believes Lozier is retaliating against Perciavalle, and feared he would become Lozier’s next target.

Perciavalle had been assisting state and federal investigators in their ongoing corruption investigations before being arrested by county detectives. His arrest came just two days after he was named Aliquippa’s acting police chief last June.

Despite being blackballed by Lozier, Watkins continues to patrol the streets of Aliquippa.

“We were advised by our (Pittsburgh labor attorney) that we should take no action against Watkins based on Lozier’s actions,” said Mottes.

“It is the opinion of our labor attorney that what Lozier did may be unconstitutional, and that the city could face a federal lawsuit if it tried to do anything to him.”

Mottes said council also discussed Assistant Police Chief Joseph Perciavalle’s employment status last month. Perciavalle was placed on administrative suspension with pay following his arrest in June.

“Our labor attorney also advised us we should continue to pay Perciavalle until after his trial,” said Mottes.

“He told us that Perciavalle has provided a lot of information in ongoing investigations into (Police Chief Donald Couch).”

Couch has also been on paid administrative suspension since June, after Mottes announced he had first-hand information that the chief is the subject of a criminal investigation.

Mottes has previously said he is assisting state police in their ongoing investigations into Aliquippa.

Aliquippa Mayor Dwan Walker could not be reached for comment.

See Also:

Investigative Report: Aliquippa Officer Claims DA Lozier’s Office Retaliated After He Provided Evidence Of Corruption

DA Lozier Blacklists Aliquippa Officer Kenneth Watkins – Vows To Not Prosecute Any Case He Files Against A Defendant

GRAND JURY ACTION! Subpoenas Served In County Corruption Probes – Aliquippa On The Hot Seat!

John Paul
John Paul is the founder of the Beaver Countian. He reports full-time for the site, specializing in investigative journalism with an emphasis on public corruption.

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Unbungabelievable
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Unbungabelievable

Hmmmmmm… Could it be people are trying to cover their behinds before the TRUTH comes spilling out. I donts thinks its a coincidence this name is appearing yet again despite all the efforts of many to cover up. If I were this someone, I would pack my bags and run before I ended up in the big house. To that someone and all the others that assisted, I think its time to DUCK AND RUN…

John Q Taxpayer
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John Q Taxpayer

Lozier refusing to prosecute any criminal cases filed by Watkins or any other sworn police officer is a very serious problem. Lozier does not have that authority. He must uphold his duty and oath of office. This isn’t fucking Nazi Germany. The PA Attorney General or someone in a high position must be notified and pull this fucking whack job off his high horse.

I'm jus sayin
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I'm jus sayin

This is all a cluster bargle too many liars. This town has lost any moral credibility since 1966. I’m so glad I can watch from a mountaintop.

John Q Taxpayer
Member
John Q Taxpayer

Lozier putting that in a letter seems like a pretty dumb move for a DA. If I were Watkins, I would be testing Lozier on that statement. Lozier is required to follow the letter of the law. He just can’t do what he wants and not do what he doesn’t want to do. The laws of this country does not permit him to run his own little wild west show. This fucking guy is an outrage and embarrassment to the residents of this county. If he sent that letter through the U.S. Mail, hell that could be a whole other problem.

John Q Taxpayer
Member
John Q Taxpayer

When a DA sends a letter refusing to uphold the law and do his job, shouldn’t the Court Administrators office be jumping in here? What the hell do they do?

James T Kirk
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James T Kirk

What do you do when an officer refuses to uphold his oath of office by refusing to do his job? IE: refusing to testify, if an officer has to invoke his right against self incrimination am I not to assume he is therefore guilty of a crime? I for one would prefer not to have a criminal enforcing laws. Just saying…

I WON DEE-WON
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I WON DEE-WON

Don, clean up in aisle 3. Don, clean up in aisle 3.

weredareres
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weredareres

I think Aliquippa has several former police officers who have pled the Fifth, right Georgie David?