East Washington police chief admits guilt

January 4, 2013

East Washington police Chief Donald Solomon faces a maximum sentence of 60 years in prison and a $750,000 fine after pleading guilty Friday to three counts of extortion.

Solomon, 56, who is said to have characterized himself as “the best cop money can buy,” admitted to having accepted money from an FBI agent posing as a drug dealer and selling the agent law enforcement-restricted Tasers in 2011 before U.S. District Judge Joy Flowers Conti.

Solomon pleaded guilty although no plea offer had been made to him by prosecutors. Instead, it will be up to the judge to determine Solomon’s penalties pending a pre-sentence investigation.

He will learn his fate during a sentencing hearing set for 3:30 p.m. May 3.

In the meantime, Solomon will be allowed to remain free on bond. However, he will not be required to be on electronic home monitoring. Instead, the court ordered that he not be allowed to leave his home from 11 p.m. to 6 a.m.

According to the federal indictment, Solomon met with undercover agents while in uniform and on duty, agreeing to provide distraction for the staged multi-kilogram cocaine sales that took place in East Washington and South Strabane Township.

He also made threats toward a local politician and woman.

Timothy D. Johnson of East Washington recently pleaded guilty in federal court to gun charges. He also admitted to firing shots at the woman’s car and hitting the North Franklin Township home where she had been staying. He told the FBI that Solomon instigated the shooting.

According to the FBI, Johnson was part of a group of people from the Washington area who would rob drug houses. Solomon allegedly would provide the group with police information and identify the locations of the drug houses.

On Thursday, Frank G. Archambault, of West Alexander, appeared in federal court on charges of having beenconvicted of a felony in 1969

Archambault had bought and traded guns with Johnson. Both men are awaiting sentencing.

U.S. Attorney David Hickton said he was pleased that Solomon agreed to enter a guilty plea in a case that was “stark and brazen.”

“It was a complete and unequivocal” admission of guilt, Hickton said following the hearing.

Solomon was hired as chief in October 2010 after serving as a part-time officer for 20 years.

Soon after his arrest, borough council took action to fire him from the position without pay. However, new borough solicitor Dennis Makel has recommended the hiring of a new police chief be postponed pending disposition of Solomon’s criminal case.

“I was shocked by what I heard today,” said Makel, who attended the hearing with Councilman Jeff Bull.

Makel said council will now proceed to make Solomon’s firing official and that a new police chief should be named in the near future.

Linda Metz has been with the Observer-Reporter since 2000, covering Washington County courts and politics, as well as the city of Washington. She previously was employed by the Tribune Review. She is a graduate of Point Park College, now a university, in Pittsburgh.

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