Anthony Cugini, former Director of the National Energy Technology Laboratory, was found on Wednesday morning in a dry creek bed in a wildlife area of Upper St. Clair. His wife had reported him missing on Tuesday.
According to Allegheny County Medical Examiner Karl E. Williams, “We found a guy out in the woods with no obvious signs of trauma. Of course, his death is suspicious. I don’t think it’s a homicide. This guy was under investigation, so I said, ‘Let’s try to get some more information.’ We want to do toxicology and tissues tests. There was some minor trauma consistent with a fall but nothing that would cause his death,” Williams said.
Upper St. Clair police officials who are conducting the investigation could not be reached for comment.
Cugini was placed on administrative leave as NETL Director in late September of 2013 following an investigation by the US Department of Energy. In October 2013, Cugini submitted his resignation. He was indicted by a grand jury on obstruction of justice charges in November 2013, and arraigned on December 9, 2013. He entered a plea of not guilty.
In a December 2013 article The Pittsburgh Post Gazette reported: (emphasis added)
Asked whether the underlying probe was complete, Mr. Cugini’s attorney, Jerry Johnson, said: “I would have no reason to believe it’s not over.”
He declined to comment on the nature of the underlying investigation, but said he didn’t expect that additional charges would be filed against Mr. Cugini. He said he suspected that the former energy official’s charity work “certainly could” continue, and added that he was working for a family business.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Leo Dillon said at the hearing that Cugini destroyed and hid evidence during the investigation, lied to investigators and had others destroy and hide evidence and lie to investigators. He did not provide details on how the agency believes Cugini misused his office.
Court documents show the government turned over evidence concerning Cugini’s dealings with Holy Family Institute in Emsworth.
Details of the DOE investigation and charges are scant and at this point, details of Cugini’s death also remain scant.
Cugini’s wife reported him missing on Tuesday, January 7, 2014. This was the same day the midwest and most of eastern US was gripped in the record deep freeze from the polar vortex. Schools and other public buildings were closed in many effected areas, and the news was filled with warnings for people to limit their exposure and to stay indoors.
Temperatures in the area where Cugini’s body was found ranged from a high of 3° to a low of -9°, with the windchill around -40°
The question NOT being asked is: What was Cugini doing in a wildlife area in Upper St. Clair on day like that? It’s not the kind of day where you suddenly decide to go for a brisk walk in a wildlife area.
© 2014 by Dory Hippauf