Friday, September 26, 2008

Today's News-Friday, September 26th, 2008

Firebug admits to starting four fires in southern Schuylkill

State police investigators have taken a man into custody after he admitted to setting four fires over the past several weeks. State police fire marshal John Burns will be filing charges against the unidentified man for starting the blazes that heavily damaged Precisionaire Industries last Saturday, destroyed Red Hill Gun Club and two other properties in Wayne Township. In addition, the suspect has admitted his involvement in starting fires outside the county.

Workers at vacant plant in Port Carbon hit gas line

Emergency crews responded to a gas leak at a vacant building in Port Carbon Thursday afternoon. The 6 inch line was hit as a demolition crew was dismantling a boiler at the former Pottsville Bleach and Dye plant. Officials say that there was no danger to residents in Port Carbon from the leak. PPL utility crews fixed the leak within a short time of the break.

Thursday crash injures Canadian woman

A Canadian woman had to be flown from the scene of a crash on I-81 near Pine Grove. Danielle Swackhammer of Ontario was a passenger in a truck operated by David Birch when the rig left the roadway and went down an embankment near milemarker 99 in Pine Grove Township, then went through the guiderails. Swackhammer was flown to Geisinger Medical Center for treatment. The crash happened around 3:30 Thursday morning.

Boscov's bankruptcy hearing postponed

A hearing in Delaware bankruptcy court on the proposed the sale of the Boscov's department store chain has been postponed until next week. The court had been scheduled to consider the proposed bid procedures, but the matter was rescheduled for Oct. 1. Boscov's, based in Reading, Pa., filed for Chapter 11 protection in August and announced that it would close 10 of its 49 stores. Philadelphia-based Versa Capital Management has emerged as the lead bidder for the company. Versa has offered to pay $11 million in cash and assume Boscov's debt. But the U.S. trustee has filed an objection, saying that Boscov's seems to be impermissibly favoring Versa over other bidders. The trustee says, among other things, that Versa has not been required to post a good-faith deposit. The trustee also says the firm is getting information about competing bids, but that there is no provision for the other bidders to receive the same information.

An area Catholic college is now recognized in the state as a university. Alvernia College is now Alvernia University. State officials have granted the Franciscan institution's application for University status. The institution began 50 years ago in Reading to prepare nuns to become teachers. Alvernia has nearly three-thousand students, ranging from traditional undergraduates to PhD candidates. In addition to its 123 acre campus in Reading, it has satellite campuses in Philadelphia and Pottsville.

Governor Ed Rendell wants Congress to give more money-besides bailing out our nation's financial industry. He's proposing an additional 100-billion-dollars to improve roads, bridges, dams and other infrastructure across the country. Rendell released a letter sent to members of Pennsylvania's Congressional delegation a half hour after Democrats and Republicans in Washington announced an agreement in principle on a $700-billion dollar bailout of the financial industry. His infrastructure initiative would help recharge the American economy and create nearly 5 million good paying jobs. The bailout plan has stalled.

The nations third largest drugstore chain is shaking things up a bit in their management. The Camp Hill based Rite Aid has named John Standley as President and CEO and Frank Vitriano as CFO and CAO. Both were previously with grocery chain Pathmark. The management shakeup was announced along with an earnings report that said its losses nearly tripled in the second quarter.

Pennsylvania state police find woman's body in car trunk; multistate search for fleeing driver

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) - An autopsy is scheduled Friday on the body of a woman found in the trunk of a car that crashed in central Pennsylvania. Police say the driver fled and is the subject of a multistate search. Police say 32-year-old Julio Lastra crashed the car at around 1
a.m. Thursday after being pursued by state troopers for making a left turn at a red light in suburban Harrisburg. Police say troopers were about to give Lastra a sobriety test when he ran
away. Troopers then found the body of 41-year-old Marisol Rivera in the trunk of the car. Police say she had been killed about an hour earlier in Bethel Township, about 30 miles east of Harrisburg. Investigators say Rivera and Lastra knew each other but they would not elaborate on the nature of the relationship. Authorities say Lastra has ties to Lebanon and is also known as Jose Ramon Ayala.

Feds: Pa. lawyer cries foul to charge he faked wills after brother's plane crash death

PHILADELPHIA (AP) - Federal authorities allege that a prominent criminal lawyer cut from his brother's will helped produce fakes after the brother and sister-in-law died in a plane crash.
But a defense lawyer says Allentown lawyer John Karoly - who has won several large police-brutality awards - is being targeted over a family dispute. According to the indictment, Karoly and his brother, Peter, disbanded their law practice in an acrimonious 1986 split. A year
earlier, authorities say, Peter Karoly and his wife, Allentown dentist Lauren Angstadt, had signed wills leaving their estate to various siblings - except John. The couple and a pilot died in February 2007 when their small plane crashed in bad weather trying to land at a Massachusetts
airport. The indictment alleges a conspiracy by Karoly, his son, John "J.P." Karoly III, of Orefield, and a family friend from Allentown. Prosecutors accuse them of conspiring to create phony wills that included John Karoly, J.P. Karoly, and several other nieces and nephews as heirs. Messages left for J.P. Karoly's lawyer, Thomas Bergstrom, and Shane's lawyer, George A. Heitczman, were not immediately returned.

Joe Biden sending mixed signals on coal

WILKES-BARRE, Pa. (AP) - Joe Biden has been sending mixed signals about his position on coal. Last week, he told a woman in Ohio that he and Barack Obama don't support clean coal. He flatly said, "No coal plants here in America." But campaigning in Pennsylvania coal country on Thursday, the Democratic vice presidential nominee said the government should steer more money to clean coal. The term is used to describe a variety of emerging technologies that burn coal for electricity without producing as much pollution. It's an issue that resonates with some working-class voters in Pennsylvania, a group that Democratic presidential nominee Barack
Obama has had trouble connecting with. Pennsylvania Democrats gave Sen. Hillary Clinton a 10-point victory in the April primary. Pennsylvania is the nation's No. 4 coal-producing state; the industry employs more than 7,000 people at nearly 800 mines, and many voters come from coal-mining families. The administration of Gov. Ed Rendell has invested millions of dollars in clean coal technology in the state. The Obama campaign has said it supports clean coal technology, specifically the development of coal-fired plants that capture carbon dioxide emissions and store the gas underground.

Pols, execs and unions pump cash Pa. campaigns

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) - The races for Pennsylvania's three row offices have become a multimillion dollar affair. Documents filed this week with the state elections bureau say
more than $3.7 million flowed to races for the state's three row offices - attorney general, auditor general and treasurer. And that doesn't count donations to two GOP candidates whose reports are not yet on file. The documents say Rob McCord increased his personal stake in his
campaign for state treasurer by another $400,000. A national GOP fundraising group gave Attorney General Tom Corbett $100,000. Auditor General Jack Wagner relied heavily on organized labor, with one in every five dollars he raised since May 13 coming from unions. John Morganelli, the Democratic candidate for attorney general, received a $50,000 boost from a national Democratic donor. Still unavailable are reports from Tom Ellis, the GOP candidate
for auditor general, and Chet Beiler, the GOP candidate for auditor general. The reporting period covered May 13 through Sept. 15.

Pennsylvania Marine cleared in Haditha killings sues Congressman Murtha for slander

PITTSBURGH (AP) - A former Marine Corps lance corporal from Pennsylvania has filed a federal lawsuit accusing U.S. Rep. John Murtha of slander by saying he and other Marines killed two dozen Iraqis in Haditha in "cold blood." Justin Sharratt has filed the suit in federal court
in Pittsburgh. In the lawsuit, Sharratt alleges that the comments Murtha made in 2006 about the Haditha killings also violated the Marine's constitutional rights to due process and presumption of innocence. Sharratt was charged with murder in a military court in the
November 2005 killings but was exonerated after a full investigation and hearing. Only one of the seven others charged is awaiting trial. Another Marine was acquitted and charges were
dropped against the others. Sharratt was honorably discharged last year. He says he's
received hate e-mails and been called "baby killer" when he goes out in Canonsburg, about 15 miles south of Pittsburgh.

Decisions to parole convict who fatally shot Philly cop under review, Pa. governor says

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) - Gov. Ed Rendell says his administration is reviewing a state board's decision to parole a prison inmate who shot and killed a Philadelphia police officer on Tuesday.
Rendell says the review will determine whether the state parole board exercised correct judgment when it released 27-year-old Daniel Giddings last month. Giddings was sent to a halfway house in Philadelphia after serving 10 of the maximum 12 years of his sentence for robbery and assault. He had run away from the halfway house and was wanted for
assaulting other police officers when he shot and killed Officer Patrick McDonald during a traffic stop. Rendell noted that Giddings would have been released in two years even if he hadn't been paroled.

Erie woman pleads guilty to killing friend's 3-month-old infant while baby-sitting

ERIE, Pa. (AP) - A western Pennsylvania woman will be sentenced in November in the death of her friend's 3-month-old infant. Forty-five-year-old Crystal Clayton pleaded guilty to
third-degree murder in Erie County Court in the Jan. 31 death of Shadoni Steele. Authorities say Clayton caused fatal head injuries to Shadoni while she baby-sat her on Jan. 29. At a February court hearing, Clayton said she didn't immediately take Shadoni to the hospital
because she was "high." Police say Clayton initially told them the baby had fallen off a bed, but later said the child had fallen out of a baby carrier. Other charges, including aggravated assault and endangering the welfare of a child, were dropped in exchange for the plea. Clayton
is scheduled to be sentenced Nov. 5.

WASHINGTON (AP) - Closed-door negotiations are to resume today in Washington on a massive financial bailout plan. But it's unclear whether House Republicans will attend. The GOP lawmakers are refusing to embrace a proposal that appeared close to acceptance by the Senate and most House Democrats.

NEW YORK (AP) - The collapse of Washington Mutual, its seizure by the government and the purchase of its banking assets by JPMorgan Chase should mean little to depositors and other
customers. But it also means that shareholders' equity in WaMu has been wiped out, and private equity investors are being left empty-handed.

WASHINGTON (AP) - The current financial crisis is casting a cloud over the first scheduled presidential debate between Barack Obama and John McCain. Obama says he plans to show up at the University of Mississippi today. But McCain wouldn't commit, saying the massive financial bailout plan comes first.

BERLIN (AP) - German newspaper Bild reports state police tell them a special commando unit stormed a KLM flight in Cologne early today and arrested two terrorist suspects. The newspaper, which didn't identify its source, says a suicide note was found in their apartment saying they wanted to die for the "jihad."

WRIGHTSVILLE BEACH, N.C. (AP) - A strong low-pressure system is promising to dominate the weather along the mid-Atlantic coast into the weekend. The storm is bringing strong winds, waterfront flooding, high surf and power outages.


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