ALIQUIPPA, Pa. — The Aliquippa police chief was forced out at Wednesday night's City Council meeting and placed on paid administrative leave.
This is happening under the cloud of two separate investigations involving the department, including the Mother's Day murder of teacher Rachael DelTondo.
City Council members are staying tight-lipped as to why Aliquippa Police Chief Don Couch was put on paid administrative leave.
Couch looked shocked when council members asked him to hand over his keys before he was escorted out of the building by four other Aliquippa police officers.
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"They're going to have to discuss this and decide who is going to be the person to take over as Chief while this administrative leave goes on," said Myron Sainovich, the city solicitor. "It's not meant to harm the chief. It's meant to remove him from the situation while some investigative work is being done to determine the validity of an accusation."
He said it's because of a personnel matter, but wouldn't elaborate.
Channel 11 asked: Now that Couch is on leave, how will that affect the Rachael DelTondo investigation?
"I don't really think that will affect the investigation at all," Sainovich said. "This is a separate entity unto itself. It has nothing to do with the DelTondo case. "
DelTondo was shot and killed in her mother's driveway on Mother's Day.
She first made headlines last year, after Channel 11 obtained a leaked report that said she was found in a steamy car with a 17-year-old boy in 2016.
Pennsylvania State Police eventually initiated an investigation into the department over the leak.
An Aliquippa police sergeant was placed on leave in the early stages of the DelTondo investigation, because his teenage daughter was with her the night of her murder.
Police executed search warrants on his daughter and his wife, as well as that boy in the car, who is now 20 years old.
In an unrelated case, the Aliquippa City Building was raided in March.
Agents took computers and paperwork to investigate possible financial irregularities involving the police department and other city agencies.
Assistant chief Joseph Perciavalle is now the acting chief and told Channel 11 the mission is the same: to solve cases and keep the community safe. He also said he is planning to ask Pennsylvania State Police to take a more hands-on role in the DelTondo investigation.
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