PITTSBURGH — A “high-level” escort used the $2,000 Ken Konias Jr. gave her every night in exchange for sex to pay for drugs, the woman testified Thursday.
Emily Pollino, 24, said Konias, whom she called “white boy," told her he had stacks of cash because he robbed a Pennsylvania casino to support his family, including a sick father. She said she didn't call police after she learned that Konias was wanted in connection with the Feb. 28, 2012, execution-style shooting death of Michael Haines, 31, of East McKeesport because “I was getting high and that was all I cared about. I just cared about the money.”
(This article was written by Adam Brandolph, a staff writer for Channel 11’s news exchange partners at TribLIVE.)
Konias, 23, of Dravosburg, faces homicide and burglary charges in the slaying of Haines, his armored-car partner, and fleeing to Florida with $2.3 million. Konias' attorney Charles LoPresti argues his client shot Haines in self-defense.
Pollino was the first of seven witnesses to testify for the prosecution Thursday, the fifth day of Konias' nonjury trial before Judge David Cashman.
Pollino, who rented a room in the same house as Konias in Pompano Beach, said they met through another escort named Summer, who stole $92,000 from Konias. Pollino said their relationship began as an exchange of sex for money but after a few days, she said, “I guess you could call it a friendship.”
As Konias spent lavishly on drugs, prostitutes and false identification, federal and local authorities interviewed several dozen witnesses.
The prosecution and police say Konias shot Haines in the back of the head in the parking lot of Home Depot in Ross about 1 p.m. after making stops at Rivers Casino on the North Shore and JCPenney in Ross Park Mall.
Sheri Klinefelter, a Rivers Casino employee, said Konias and Haines picked up $2.15 million from the casino with little fanfare. Konias was quieter than normal and made the unusual decision to move the cash from the back of the truck to the middle “hopper” area.
After picking up nearly $10,000 from JCPenney in the Ross Park Mall, the truck continued to Home Depot adjacent to the mall.
After the $4,500 deposit, surveillance video played in court showed the Garda truck stopped for about 2 1/2 minutes in the Home Depot lot.
It's there, the prosecution alleges, that Konias shot Haines.
Ethan Gallik, 24, a Home Depot employee from Canton, Washington County, testified he drove by the truck shortly before 1 p.m., parked his car and heard a loud noise as he was exiting his vehicle.
“I thought it was a gunshot, but being where I was, I convinced myself it was something else,” he said.
A few hours later, after news of the robbery and Haines' death hit the media, Gallik told coworkers and a supervisor what he had heard.
“I was dumbfounded,” he said.