Beth-Center teacher held for trial on drug charges

February 10, 2014
Jacqueline Righetti

A suspended Bethlehem-Center School District teacher accused of being in possession of suspected drugs late last year by Centerville police was ordered held for trial following a preliminary hearing Monday before District Judge Joshua Kanalis.

Jacqueline M. Righetti, 45, of 41 Jefferson Ave., Roscoe, allegedly had cocaine and drug paraphernalia when Centerville police checked on her in her vehicle Dec. 28. Centerville police Officer Nicholas Richards testified he and Officer Dustin Fidazzo were on patrol when they spotted a compact sport utility vehicle pulled off to the side of Main Street in the village of Denbo in an area described as rural.

“At first, I didn’t see anyone inside, but then I saw a female jump from the passenger seat to driver’s seat,” Richards said. “I asked her if everything was OK.”

Richards got Righetti’s identification while his partner interviewed her passenger, whom she reportedly identified as her nephew. Police said she told them they were just talking, but court records indicate that the passenger, identified as one of Righetti’s former Beth-Center students, not a relative, told police they had met to have sex.

Righetti appeared very nervous, Richards said, adding that she did not make eye contact and was gripping the steering wheel. Righetti reportedly agreed to allow police to search her car. A jelly bean container contained what Richards described as a snorting straw. He also said he found two unidentified pills in a container in the console.

A female East Bethlehem police officer arrived to search Righetti. During the initial search, Richards said he saw a white piece of paper fall from Righetti’s pants leg. Richards said Righetti tried to hide it with her foot. Inside the 2-inch-square paper was suspected powder cocaine, he said. The substance was sent to the state police crime laboratory for testing.

Richards testified that Righetti admitted during an interview at the police station that she had snorted cocaine about an hour earlier but also told police that her husband planted the drug on her.

Righetti was ordered held for court on charges of possession of cocaine and drug paraphernalia, as well as disorderly conduct. She was arraigned Jan. 24 before Kanalis and released from Washington County jail after posting $1,000 bond.

Righetti, a special education teacher at Bethlehem-Center Elementary School, has been suspended with pay by the district.

Kathie O. Warco has covered the police beat and transportation for the Observer-Reporter for more than 25 years. She graduated from Duquesne University with a degree in journalism.

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