Canonsburg man, suspended Pittsburgh postmaster, found guilty of obstructing law, other charges

Allegheny County jurors found a suspended Pittsburgh postmaster from Canonsburg guilty Friday on obstructing law and other charges.

Daniel Davis of Canonsburg, a suspended postmaster of Pittsburgh, was found guilty Friday of obstructing law and other charges. Photo:Photo courtesy of Toledo Business Journal

Allegheny County jurors found a suspended Pittsburgh postmaster from Canonsburg guilty Friday after almost two days of deliberations on obstructing law and some other charges stemming from allegations he threatened subordinates who saw him opening packages suspected of containing drugs.

Daniel Davis, 51, of Canonsburg, was also found guilty on three counts of intimidating witnesses and one each of criminal coercion and official oppression. The county district attorney’s office accused Davis of lying to a federal investigator and threatening the physical safety or careers of four separate postal employees between August 2014 and January 2015 to protect himself from consequences for opening packages when he didn’t have the authority to do so.

“We have to study this a bit,” Davis’ attorney, Joe Chester, told reporters after receiving the verdict.

Jurors returned not guilty verdicts on a third count of witness intimidation and three counts each of official oppression and criminal coercion after deliberating Thursday and Friday following a trial that began Jan. 4 before Judge David Cashman.

Davis became postmaster in Pittsburgh in February 2014.

Assistant District Attorney Brian Catanzarite pointed out postal workers take an oath to uphold the Constitution, contending Davis made the threats against employees to protect himself during a federal investigation concerning his practice of opening packages himself.

The defense argued during the trial, Davis was trained by postal inspectors in Toledo, where he worked before his transfer to Pittsburgh, to identify suspicious packages and open them.

That training didn’t include instruction on citizens’ Fourth Amendment rights to due process.

Jurors heard testimony Davis opened about 600 packages containing suspected narcotics while he held that position in Toledo and some 100 more during his tenure in Pittsburgh, turning those found to contain contraband over to postal inspectors.

Authorities must obtain a warrant before opening a suspect’s mail.

He also argued the allegations Davis coerced his subordinates were part of an “employment law soap opera” and told jurors there were inconsistencies in some victims’ accounts of events.

Mike Manko, a spokesman for the district attorney’s office, declined comment after the verdict.

Cashman set sentencing for April 12.