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County police say investigation continues; contractor’s office searched
An Allegheny County plumbing inspector assigned to the Mon-Yough area approved work that police allege he couldn’t possibly have seen, according to a criminal complaint.
Now, Allegheny County police are attempting to determine whether Timothy R. Chelosky, 53, of McKeesport and Michael K. O’Toole, 57, of Pittsburgh’s North Side accepted bribes from plumbing contractors.
County police last week executed a search warrant at the offices of Matt Mertz Plumbing Inc. in Ross Township.
In criminal complaints filed with Magisterial District Judge Richard Opiela in Ross Twp., police said that the “overwhelming majority” of the inspection jobs that Chelosky and O’Toole are accused of skipping were work being done by Mertz.
According to county police, one Mertz employee is alleged to have told a health department official that “some of the county plumbing inspectors were being paid off” so that work replacing lead water lines in the city of Pittsburgh’s Squirrel Hill neighborhood would not be inspected.
The investigation is ongoing, county police said.
Under Allegheny County regulations, connections to public water and sanitary sewer lines must be approved by a health department inspector.
According to complaints filed in Opiela’s office, county health department officials became suspicious in June that two inspectors were signing off on work they had not viewed.
Ivo Miller, manager of the county plumbing program, told investigators that he suspected two employees were scheduling inspections outside of their assigned areas, and away from normal work hours, using their personal cell phones, according to a police report.
In the complaint, police allege that at the same time Chelosky was supposedly inspecting work done by Mertz Plumbing at a home in Brentwood, a license plate camera took video of his truck passing through the intersection of Route 885 and Lebanon Road in West Mifflin.
Police also accuse both men of changing addresses on inspection jobs that were assigned to other staff members.
Detectives accused Chelosky of changing an address from “Penn Hills” to “Turtle Creek” so that the job would fall within his territory, and in another case changing an address from the city of Pittsburgh to “Edgewood” for the same reason.
Both jobs were being done by Mertz Plumbing, police said.
In another case, police allege, a West Homestead homeowner told detectives Chelosky failed to show up for scheduled inspections “two or three times” yet signed off on work that was done at his Cascade Drive home.
Any other homeowners who had similar experiences are being asked to call the Allegheny County police tipline at 1-833-ALL-TIPS, said Amie Downs, county spokeswoman.
Both Chelosky and O’Toole have been suspended from their jobs pending further investigation, she said.
O’Toole and Chelosky are both charged with multiple counts of tampering with public records. They were arraigned Sept. 11 and remain free on bond pending a preliminary hearing Sept. 23 before Opiela.
Originally published September 14, 2020.