By Carl Prine, PITTSBURGH TRIBUNE-REVIEW
Sunday, June 13, 2010
Carl Prine is a Pittsburgh Tribune-Review staff writer and can be reached at 412-320-7826 or via e-mail.
MILLEGEVILLE, Ga. — When Georgia Bureau of Investigation detectives and Milledgeville police began to untangle the testimony snarling a rape investigation involving Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, they found a tricky knot linking the troubled quarterback to the Pennsylvania State Police.
Pennsylvania State Police recruiter Edward Joyner’s work as Big Ben’s bodyguard — while outlawed by police regulations — was an open secret and “treated kind of like a joke” when other troopers ribbed him about it, according to GBI agents who interviewed his supervisors.
The mandated form that granted Joyner permission to work for Roethlisberger in 2005 came allegedly with the forged signature of the gatekeeper, now-retired Lt. Col Cynthia Transue.
“I can say with all certainty that the signature is not mine. I do not know who signed my name,” said Transue, a former state police whistleblower best known for refusing to shred internal documents when higher officials ordered her to do so.
While moonlighting as Roethlisberger’s travel agent, contractor, dry cleaning deliveryman, personal shopper, car detailer and valet, Joyner racked up more overtime than almost any other trooper — 602 hours and about $30,000 in 2009.
Joyner is fighting to stay employed by the Steelers’ star. Lt. Col. John R. Brown rescinded permission April 15, three days after the district attorney here announced he would not prosecute Roethlisberger, 28, for the incident March 5 at Capital City nightclub.
The decision to revoke permission for Joyner to moonlight triggered a grievance by the Pennsylvania State Police Troopers Association in Harrisburg.
“The department had no problem with Ben Roethlisberger and Ed Joyner when everything was going fine, when Trooper Joyner was helping them gain access for functions and even arranging for personal events with him,” said union President Bruce A. Edwards. “Now they say they didn’t know about all that? They totally knew, and they used him for their own purposes. The same people now want to tar-and-feather him and hang him out to dry.”
In preparation for Joyner’s upcoming hearing, Edwards said the union located a card from a high-ranking state police executive — since retired — thanking the trooper for autographed gifts.
The Tribune-Review tried to ask Harrisburg officials to list any gratuities they might have received from Roethlisberger or other Steelers and about Transue’s authorization. Spokeswoman Lt. Myra Taylor told the Trib to submit questions in writing.
On June 1, Taylor said in a formal statement that they “involve internal or administrative matters, and that is where those issues shall remain in discussion.”
Edwards is seeking a modified employment agreement that allows Joyner to keep working for Roethlisberger, with clear guidelines about his duties and no unnecessary pressure from high-ranking officials for favors. Joyner declined to comment.
Joyner appeared to be in good standing with the state police and superstar quarterback before the March 5 rape allegation.
Former state police Cmdr. Frank Monaco, now police chief in Plum, considers Joyner one of the finest troopers he ever commanded.
“I could depend on him for anything,” said Monaco. “He looked sharp in uniform. Again, when I’m in a situation where I need something, that I’m going to need people who are dependable, I’m going to call Ed Joyner. It’s just plain and simple: I call Ed Joyner.”
Monaco, a former Washington barracks commander, met Joyner there in 1998. He befriended Roethlisberger seven years later.
Monaco told the Trib he never believed Joyner was Big Ben’s bodyguard. But he did recall telling Roethlisberger at the Steelers’ camp in Latrobe “great stuff” about his favorite trooper, never realizing that Joyner had begun working for the quarterback three months earlier.
“I would’ve said, ‘You can’t do this,’ because he’d be putting me in a jam,” said Monaco. “See what I mean? If I cover for this, if he’s working security and I know it, then I’m going to be in trouble. And I’m not going to get jammed and lose my job because someone else is doing something. Obviously, if I had seen something, I would’ve taken action.”
Over the next four years, Monaco said Roethlisberger visited his New Kensington home several times, including for one of his daughter’s birthday parties.
Monaco is the target of a federal whistleblower lawsuit brought by retired state police Lt. James Fulmer of Bolivar. He alleges Monaco conspired to ruin troopers trying to do the right thing while furthering the careers of cronies.
He finds Monaco and other officials’ collective inability to see Joyner’s duties as a bodyguard “implausible.”
“Could there have been one officer who was that clueless? It is plausible that one officer might not have realized what Joyner was doing. But when an entire chain of command sees nothing year after year?” said Fulmer.
Monaco denies Fulmer’s allegations. His former bosses when Roethlisberger hired the trooper — Lt. Col. Ralph M. Periandi, deputy commissioner of operations, and ex-Commissioner Jeff Miller — contend they knew nothing about Joyner’s relationship with Roethlisberger.
Miller manages special security operations for the National Football League. He has said he played no role in the NFL investigation that led to Roethlisberger’s six-game suspension.