March 22, 2000 09:08am
Fired Cop Charged in Stripping Case
by: Richard Zitrin
(WASHINGTON, PA) -- A sheriff's deputy who lost his badge for allegedly working as a male stripper while on disability for a bad back has been charged with worker's compensation fraud, authorities said.
The former deputy also raised his ex-boss's ire because he allegedly wore his uniform in his act at an area nightclub.
"That type of behavior - deputies stripping - is not going to be tolerated, especially in our uniforms," Washington County Sheriff Larry Maggi told APBnews.com. "I'm embarrassed. Our whole office is embarrassed by that type of behavior."
Maggi said he fired Deputy Andreas Veneris in February 1999 after learning Veneris had worked as a stripper the previous summer at Gloria's Hindquarter Room near Pittsburgh. Veneris, who used the stage name Dimitri, was on unpaid medical leave at the time for a bad back, the sheriff said.
Claimed on-the-job injury
Veneris claimed he injured his back while chasing a suspect in January 1997, and he filed for worker's compensation two months later, Maggi said. Veneris' claim was denied in September 1998 and he remained on unpaid medical leave from the sheriff's force in this community about 30 miles south of Pittsburgh, said Maggi.
He actually had hurt his back in an off-duty motorcycle accident, the sheriff said.
After he was fired, Veneris filed a grievance against Washington County, which he dropped in December when the county gave him $5,000 for agreeing to dismiss the claim and never again apply for a job with the county, Maggi said.
Veneris could not be reached for comment.
Charged with fraud
The 32-year-old former deputy's stripping stint at Gloria's Hindquarter Room led to him being arrested Monday and charged with two counts of worker's compensation fraud and two counts of attempted theft by deception, felonies punishable by up to seven years each in prison, Maggi said.
Veneris, who is free on $10,000 bond, probably earned $200 or so a night, including tips, for stripping at the club, the sheriff said.
He also drew the wrath of a fellow dancer who performed in a police get-up, Maggi said.
"He filed a complaint that the deputy's uniform was too realistic," Maggi said. "[Veneris] was getting more business than he was."
'Didn't have his act together'
Veneris did not impress the owner of Gloria's Hindquarter Room.
"He wasn't a dancer to begin with," Gloria Brugnoli told APBnews.com. "He didn't have his act together. Seems to me he was just trying to get started as a dancer."
Brugnoli, however, has some sympathy for Veneris.
"I hope he doesn't get in too much trouble," she said. "People have done a lot worse things. The police should be out chasing after killers."