By Jonathan Weaver
An anonymous tip led the Armstrong County Sheriff’s Department into Kittanning Township yesterday morning for two arrests.
Sheriff Bill Rupert said he, along with sheriff deputies and State Police troopers, arrested Mitchell Dongilli, 33 of Vandergrift, and Crystal Chop, 32 of Kittanning, about 11AM Tuesday morning following a 9AM phone call.
“This morning, we received an anonymous tip on our “See Something, Say Something” hotline of two people that were staying in the apartments behind Super Shooters bar,” Sheriff Rupert said.
Sheriff Rupert said Dongilli and Chop, who were boyfriend and girlfriend, were wanted on bench warrants for failure to appear in court and were arrested at the apartment along Route 422 in Kittanning Township.
Westmoreland County Sheriff Jon Held said Dongilli’s bench warrant was issued December 6 after Dongilli failed to appear in the Court of Common Pleas to make a guilty plea.
According to the original criminal complaint, Dongilli was charged August 19 with robbery, escape, theft by unlawful taking and receiving stolen property during the annual Festa Italiana di Vander-grift.
Sheriff Held said that no additional charges will be filed against Held unless Armstrong County officials deem it necessary.
While he was initially caught in Vandergrift, Sheriff Held said Dongilli frequently moved between Westmoreland and Armstrong Counties.
Dongilli will be transferred to the Westmoreland County Jail in Greensburg later this week.
Chop’s bench warrant was issued by District Magisterial Judge Samuel Goldstrohm after she failed to appear to attest to charges of driving under the influence and two misdemeanor charges of endangering the welfare of children, along with the summary charge of not providing a proper child seat belt. Chop was initially arrested April 6.
Sheriff Rupert said deputies and police troopers had to forcibly enter the residence, but that Dongilli and Chop were arrested and incarcerated in the Armstrong County Jail without incident.
The “See Something, Say Something” tipline (which is the sheriff’s office at 724-548-3265) has been available to residents for about four weeks. Sheriff Rupert said the service is available 24 hours per day and is used often.
“We have received several tips on it, but this is one of the first ones we were able to act upon,” Sheriff Rupert said. “It was a good tip – we were able to act upon it right away. In doing so, we took two people wanted off the streets.”
He encouraged residents to continue calling if they see a dangerous situation.
“No matter how big or small they think it may be, anything they see that is suspicious or anyone they know is wanted, they can call the (anonymous) tipline and we’ll look into it,” Sheriff Rupert said.
Sheriff Held said Westmoreland County has also had success with anonymous tipsters, and looks forward to continuing the relationship with Armstrong County units when needed.
“We’ve had great success with both our anonymous tip line and our Facebook page,” Sheriff Held said.
Another plea court hearing for Dongilli has been scheduled for March 26 and a preliminary hearing for Chop is scheduled for next week.