Suspended Aliquippa Assistant Police Chief Joseph Perciavalle / screen grab from video by Bill Waddell

Aliquippa Police Chief Joseph Perciavalle has been arrested for the second time by Beaver County Detectives.

Detectives filed a felony charge of intercepting a communication against Perciavalle today, alleging he recorded a conversation he had with Aliquippa Police Chief Donald Couch.

Perciavalle was arraigned this morning by Hopewell Magisterial District Judge Janet Swihart and released on a $10,000 unsecured bond.

According to a criminal complaint filed by Chief County Detective Andy Gall, Perciavalle recorded a conversation with Chief Couch without his knowledge:

“On June 13, 2018 while examining the contents of (Joseph Perciavalle’s) phone, Det. Lt. Robert Heberle came across an audio file that had been recorded on March 2, 2018 that was 39.03 minutes long. The audio file was a recorded conversation between Perciavalle and Aliquippa Police Chief Donald Couch and contained topics involving the Aliquippa Police Department, the Aliquippa Police pension fund, (City Manager) Sam Gill, Retired Captain Doug Edgell, Aliquippa High School Football, and others. This recording was made the day that the Pennsylvania State Police served a search warrant on the municipal offices for City of Aliquippa. Det. Lt. Heberle is ‘wire certified’ and noticed that there was no preamble or conclusion to the voice interception as required. It was also quite obvious that the recording ended when Perciavalle and Couch parted company (…) Couch assured the detectives that he had never given Perciavalle permission to record any conversations between them (…) Couch stated that he and Perciavalle rode together on patrol and talked about the police department business and why PSP would be searching the City of Aliquippa offices.”

Defense Attorney Steve Townsend is representing Perciavalle, and told BeaverCountian.com that county detectives have it all wrong: “I can say that Joe Perciavalle is denying any wrongdoing and I can say that the allegations of how and when this conversation was recorded is not as it was described in the complaint.”

Townsend said the conversation was recorded by Perciavalle in a public setting where Chief Couch had no expectation of privacy.

“The complaint says that Couch and Perciavalle were in a patrol vehicle together, that is absolutely false,” said Townsend. “The conversation that took place occurred in a parking lot across from the city building, out in the open and in public (…) This is not a wiretap violation.”

Townsend told BeaverCountian.com that county detectives discovered the recorded conversation while searching Perciavalle’s smartphone which had been seized after they arrested him the first time on June 8.

Perciavalle was placed on paid leave from the department in June after county detectives charged him with distributing an obscene image of a woman urinating to the 17-year-old daughter of Aliquippa Police Sgt. Kenneth Watkins. Detectives found the image on the young woman’s phone while searching it as part of their investigation into the murder of Rachael DelTondo. Perciavalle insisted the image was a widely-distributed meme that had been accidentally sent to Watkins’ daughter as part of a group message.

Sgt. Watkins was placed on paid leave in May because his daughter was identified as a witness in the case. Perciavalle’s arrest came the day after he was named acting Police Chief and announced he would be asking the Pennsylvania State Police to take over the homicide investigation of Rachael DelTondo.

“The search warrant for his phone is still sealed,” said Townsend, who questioned how detectives came to listen to an audio recording when they should only have been searching for text messages he exchanged with Sgt. Watkins’ daughter. “I think what they did might have been outside the scope of that warrant.”

In an interview with BeaverCountian.com following his first arrest, Perciavalle said he believed he was being targeted and retaliated against by county detectives.

Aliquippa Police Chief Donald Couch was placed on paid administrative leave by city council on June 6. Councilman Matthew Mottes said he has first-hand information that Couch is the subject of a criminal investigation by Pennsylvania State Police.

“I think if you wanted to look from a 35,000 foot flyover you could find there was definitely a hostile work environment in that police department,” said Townsend.

See Also

Acting Aliquippa Police Chief Joe Perciavalle Arrested By Beaver County Detectives

EXCLUSIVE: Acting Aliquippa Chief Says Txt Msg Was An Accident – Calls His Arrest By DA’s Office Retaliation

Aliquippa Police Chief Placed On Administrative Leave – Target Of State Police Investigation

Aliquippa Councilman Accuses City Solicitor Of Misleading The News Media

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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bobby boom boom
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bobby boom boom

Well, they got this guy nailed down. Are they making any headway on that murder case or are they still just compiling names of RDT ‘s old boyfriends, lovers, flings, etc.?

Icanread
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Icanread

They need to stop harassing the guy.

Jemma
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Jemma

I agree this sounds like a witch hunt to me.

Stellie
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Stellie

Wow! Are you freaking kidding me? Unbelievable! Another “Decoy” ? This certainly would not be another distraction to take away the sting of the Plea agreement, would it? It surely seems that the BC detectives are grasping at straws. Not looking favorable at all guys. Another way to inflate overtime, again. SMH

wind
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wind

I’m curious as to why they’re doing this to this guy. I think they’re full of bs and are scrambling to cover something and/or to find a scapegoat for their underhanded and incompetent ways. None of what they’ve done to him appears to be on the up and up.

Disgruntled
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Disgruntled

Mr. Perciavalle should consider changing his legal counsel to Mr. Benyo. Townsend’s reply was pretty weak. And I believe Mr. Benyo might like to have another crack at it.

wind
Member
wind

Absolutely!!

Gottadoit
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Gottadoit

All Perciavalle needs to do : Come up with a letter about the DelTondo Murder. Tear the letter in two halves, giving one half to his attorney. Leak information of the letter to Lozier,…. BING-F’N-GO !
All the heat will dissipate.

Disgruntled
Member
Disgruntled

No, all he has to do is have his attorney argue to have the search warrant un-sealed to find out what the detectives were supposed to be looking for versus what they are finding. Townsend hasn’t done that, so get an attorney who will.

wind
Member
wind

It feels suspiciously as though this guy knows something they don’t want him to know. This is clearly bs. I wonder when we’ll find out anything more about the indictments that were handed down in Aliquippa.

Jemma
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Jemma

I think you are right about this. He knows something and they are trying to discredit him.

DiamondDi
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DiamondDi

You are definitely on the right track! See no evil, Hear no evil….SPEAK NO EVIL!