Washington County District Attorney Gene Vittone Friday said he will withdraw a charge of theft by deception against the mayor of Monongahela, who was briefly jailed in the case Tuesday, and also conduct an investigation into what procedures were followed to make the arrest.
Vittone said he was made aware of the charge lodged in a private criminal complaint against Mayor Robert Kepics and approved by one of his assistants after Kepics was remanded to the Washington County jail on $5,000 bond set by District Judge Mark Wilson.
“After hearing the evidence, it was apparent to me that this was a civil and not a criminal matter and that a criminal charge should not have been filed,” Vittone said.
John and Shirley Amons of New Eagle filed the complaint, claiming Kepics failed to keep his promise to repay all of the $3,935 they loaned him in April 2011. Wilson issued an arrest warrant for Kepics Tuesday after the criminal case was approved by Assistant District Attorney Joshua Carroll.
Vittone said Friday a theft- by-deception charge requires an intent to deceive a victim into parting with money, and that Kepics had repaid the Amonses $1,600 of what he owed them.
The district attorney said his office will conduct an “immediate and thorough review of the case” since it proceeded without his approval.
“I am aware of the impact criminal charges of any kind can have on any person’s life,” said Vittone. “I take my responsibility as district attorney very seriously. I am aware of my obligation as an officer of the court and as a prosecutor to immediately withdraw a case in which there is not probable cause to arrest.”
Kepics, 56, said Friday he was wronged, but that he believes Vittone “will do the right thing.”
“I feel our DA is doing his job and will do a proper investigation to get to the bottom of this.”