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Attorney: Judge's gun was for safety


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By Bobby Kerlik
Friday, December 1, 2006

Senior District Judge Donald Presutti was carrying a gun because he feared for his safety, his attorney said Thursday.

Presutti, 59, of Kilbuck, was arrested Wednesday after returning to West View Auto Body, where he had argued with his father-in-law, Earl Quillen, about an hour earlier, police said.

"Magistrate Presutti is a good man with no criminal record. There was no criminal intent here," defense attorney Leonard Berger said. "Mr. Presutti was in an altercation, and he was physically assaulted and choked. His father-in-law also threatened to 'bust him up.' "

Quillen could not be reached for comment.

Allegheny County President Judge Joseph James said Presutti will not hear cases until the matter is resolved.

The state Court of Judicial Discipline could suspend Presutti before the case is adjudicated because the firearms charge is a felony.

Berger said Presutti will plead not guilty when he appears for a preliminary hearing Wednesday before West View District Judge Richard Opiela.

Presutti, who retired in January, served in the magisterial district that covers Avalon, Bellevue, Ben Avon, Ben Avon Heights, Emsworth, Kilbuck and Ohio Township.

As a senior district judge, he works as needed at any district judge's office in the county, James said.

Presutti's wife called police Wednesday, saying her husband was returning to the auto body shop with a gun. When police confronted Presutti, he admitted carrying the weapon, police said.

"He was shaken up and was worried about protecting himself when he went to retrieve his car," Berger said.

Bobby Kerlik can be reached at or 412-391-0927.

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