A western Pennsylvania lawmaker stands accused of smoking marijuana while tailgating last month in the parking lot outside a Pittsburgh Steelers football game.
Pittsburgh police claim State Rep. Paul Costa, 51, was caught sharing a joint with another man in the parking lot of Heinz Field on October 3. Undercover Officer Alex Lee Myers claims he saw Costa (D-Wilkins) and another man passing the joint between them, reports the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review
. (Since the Ravens beat the Steelers 17-14 that day, who could be mad at these guys for “allegedly” dulling the pain with a little herbal medicine?)
“He adamantly denies that he smoked any marijuana,” said Costa’s attorney, Phil DiLucente. “No narcotics of any kind were found on him. In fact, he detests marijuana,” DiLucente added.
Myers and police Sgt. Steve Matakovich were walking through the parking lot when they said they saw Costa and Mitchell Brourman, 50, of Edgewood, “smoking and passing between them a hand-rolled white cigarette,” while standing next to a 2008 white GMC Yukon.
Myers claimed he could smell “the overpowering scent of burning marijuana coming from the smoke surrounding both Brourman and Costa.”
The officers claimed they watched Costa and Brourman pass the joint back and forth, and then they approached to stop the party. When the showed their badges and identified themselves as police, Brourman dropped the joint, Myers claimed.
“You got us,” both men said, according to the affidavit. Officer Myers said he picked up the discarded joint.
DiLucente said those words were never spoken. His theory is that Costa, like many other fans, was wearing a Steelers jersey and police just got the wrong guy, reports WTAE
“I think, very easily, he could be mistaken, and I think in this case, that the officers were mistaken,” DiLucente said.
Costa and Brourman told the officers they didn’t have any other illegal substances, but the cops claimed an ensuing search of Brourman’s Yukon turned up more marijuana in an orange pill container. Police said they took the evidence to the county crime lab.
DiLucente, who is also representing Brourman, said he doubts Myers and Matakovich could have seen what they claimed, because they were standing about 100 feet away when they began to approach his clients. He said police did not ask Costa to submit to a blood test for marijuana.
“We can’t stress enough how anxious we are to get to court and clear his name,” DiLucente said of Costa.
Records show that Costa did not sign on as a co-sponsor of House Bill 1393, Rep. Mark Cohen’s failed bill to legalize medical marijuana during the 2009-10 legislative session.
Both men are charged with one count of “prohibited acts” and are due in court November 24.