Some charges withdrawn against constable
The Commonwealth on Wednesday withdrew the most serious charges that had been filed against state constable Francis Salatino of Gillett.
These charges included the first-degree felony of involuntary deviate sexual intercourse, the second-degree felony of unlawful restraint, the third-degree felony of prostitution and related offenses, and the third-degree felony of criminal trespass, according to Salatino's attorney, Bob McGuinness, and Towanda Magisterial District Judge Timothy Clark.
On Wednesday, Salatino waived his preliminary hearing on the remaining charges that had been lodged against him, which were the misdemeanors of false imprisonment, official oppression, impersonating a public servant, harassment, and furnishing alcohol to a minor.
Because Salatino waived his preliminary hearing, his case has been transferred to the Court of Common Pleas of Bradford County.
Salatino waived his arraignment in Common Pleas Court and entered a plea of "not guilty" to all of the remaining charges.
"In the usual course of cases, charges might be withdrawn or dismissed at the preliminary hearing due to issues relating to the evidence," Bradford County District Attorney Dan Barrett said, adding that he had not had a chance on Wednesday to discuss the specific reasons for the withdrawal of the felony charges with Assistant District Attorney Francis Rineer, who had attended Wednesday's court proceedings.
Barrett explained that he had been involved with another case in another court on Wednesday and had not had a chance yet to review Salatino's court proceeding on Wednesday with Rineer.
Salatino, 51, is accused of subjecting nine victims to mistreatment while acting in his official capacity as a state constable in 2011 and 2012, police said.
On June 29, the state police filed a criminal complaint in Towanda District Court that describes the incidents that led to the charges being filed against Salatino.
According to interviews with the victims, which are described in the complaint, Salatino is accused of the following actions:
- Salatino took a 20-year-old female, who was on county probation at the time, for a ride in his constable vehicle and bought her K-2 (synthetic marijuana) and a six-pack of wine coolers. Salatino "rolled the joint" for her and she smoked the K-2 and drank the alcohol. Salatino then performed a sex act on her.
The 20-year-old female stated that she was intoxicated at the time and felt compelled to let this happen, as he was a Pennsylvania state constable and they were in his vehicle.
Salatino gave the 20-year-old female his Pennsylvania constable badge and had her enter a U.S. post office to obtain confidential information by identifying herself as a constable.
Salatino would have the 20-year-old female go on "dates" with him in exchange for telling her about warrants, paying her fines and transporting her to her probation appointments.
- Salatino served eviction orders on a 29-year-old woman about a year ago, and then, while she was in the process of moving, repeatedly stopped at her home and texted her and stated that he would help her get money if she stripped for him and his friends. Then Salatino made repeated remarks about her body and told her he would help her move if she stripped for him.
- Salatino met a 21-year-old woman through his job as constable and told her that he was selling a couch. After the 21-year-old woman asked Salatino to send her a picture of the couch, he sent her a photo of a blonde female performing a sex act on him on the couch, stating that "the couch is in the background."
- Approximately 15 months ago, Salatino came to the home of a female under the age of 18 to serve a warrant on her mother. When the juvenile and her grandmother told Salatino that her mother was at work, Salatino did not believe them. Salatino then placed handcuffs on the juvenile and had her grandmother follow him to the store where the juvenile's mother worked. The juvenile's mother became upset when she saw her daughter in handcuffs, and Salatino explained that he was only "playing a joke." Salatino also posted inappropriate sexual comments on the juvenile's Facebook page.
- Salatino and his wife went to the home of a 48-year-old woman to serve a warrant on her for unpaid fines. The woman was not at home and there were no cars in the driveway, but a 21-year-old female and a 20-year-old male were sleeping in an upstairs bedroom at the time. Salatino entered the residence uninvited and began searching the residence. After Salatino encountered the two youths, they told him the 48-year-old woman was not at home, at which time Salatino continued to search the residence and would not allow the youths to leave, and forced them to stay in place for approximately one hour.
Bradford County President Judge Jeffrey Smith issued a court order suspending Salatino from his services as a state constable, effective May 25, 2012
Salatino will remain "deactivated" as a state constable unless Smith issues another court order that lifts his suspension.
Salatino is currently free on bail.
James Loewenstein can be reached at (570) 265-1633; or email: firstname.lastname@example.org