Pittsburgh pathologist Cyril Wecht gained fame over four decades investigating the deaths of famous people, testifying in the biggest unsolved murder cases, and delivering lively commentary on cable tv. Today, says the Philadelphia Inquirer, the 76-year-old former Allegheny County coroner is in the defendant’s seat, facing federal fraud charges for using county funds and staff to benefit his private forensic pathology practice.
Charges against him include corpse trading with a local college and the improper storage of human brain tissues; most involve more mundane issues: the improper use of fax machines, postage and a county car. The indictment also alleges that Wecht used county staff as chauffeurs and dog walkers. Richard Thornburgh, the former Pennsylvania governor whose law firm represents Wecht, has charged that his client is the victim of the Bush administration’s attempts to prosecute high-profile Democrats. Thornburgh called the case a “most bizarre prosecution of one of Pittsburgh’s most colorful, accomplished and brilliant men.”