Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Today's News-Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Father shakes baby, lands in jail

A New Castle Township man is jailed for shaking his infant son. Frackville state police have just released information about the case, where 25-year-old Justin Wilson was watching his 2 month old son. He reportedly shook the baby on at least three occasions while watching the child. The baby had to be hospitalized for treatment of his injuries. Wilson was arraigned on charges of aggravated and simple assault, endangering the welfare of children and reckless endangerment.

Bail was set at $50-thousand-dollars.

Referendum on bond issue to appear on ballot

The November 4th general election is less than two weeks away, and most voters are focusing on electing a new President. But Pennsylvania voters are also being asked to consider authorizing the state to borrow $400 million dollars for infrastructure improvements to water and wastewater systems. Acting DEP Secretary John Hanger was in Schuylkill County yesterday to encourage voters to approve the referendum. The bond issue's funds would be used to fix deteriorating pipes and sewer lines through PENNVEST grants. A recent study by the Sustainable Infrastructure Task Force estimates that improvements totaling more than $36 billion dollars are needed over the next 20 years across the state to maintain reliable service. The additional funds are on top of $800 million dollars in spending approved by the state legislature to improve systems, flood control projects and high hazard dams. Those projects will be repaid with gaming revenues.

Former presidential candidate to stump for McCain-Palin in Schuylkill tonight

A former presidential candidate will be in Schuylkill County tonight for a town hall meeting to promote the Republican presidential ticket. US Senator Sam Brownback of Kansas will be joined by former Lehigh Valley Congressman Pat Toomey at Penn State Schuylkill's Morgan Auditorium at 7pm. Pennsylvania is a battleground state in the race for the presidency.

Phillies begin quest for baseball's championship tonight

Pennsylvania sports fans are anxiously hoping for a World Championship to return to the Commonwealth, as the Philadelphia Phillies face the Tampa Bay Rays in game one of the World Series. It has been 15 long years since the Phils appeared in the fall classic. Game one can be heard on WPPA beginning at 8pm. First pitch is scheduled for 8:35 from Florida.

VIST Financial posts third quarter loss

The collapse of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac affects the third quarter earnings of a regional banking company. VIST Financial, with a branch location in Schuylkill Haven, reported a third quarter loss of $4.6 million dollars for the period ending September 30th. The company reports that it recorded charges of about $7 million dollars after it had to write down preferred stock they owned in Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, and a charge of $104 thousand dollars for Wachovia Corporation stock. The quarterly loss of 81 cents per share compares with a 45 cents per share profit for the same period a year ago.

PHILADELPHIA (AP) - Opening statements are scheduled Wednesday morning in the sweeping corruption trial of longtime Pennsylvania Sen. Vincent Fumo. Two men and 10 women have been chosen, along with four female alternates. The lawmaker's trial is set to open Wednesday in Philadelphia and last three months. The 65-year-old Fumo, a South Philadelphia Democrat, is charged with defrauding the Senate, a maritime museum and a nonprofit of more than $3.5 million. He has pleaded not guilty to charges including obstruction, fraud and money laundering. During the final jury selection Tuesday, the defense alleged that prosecutors were trying to select jurors based on race. Prosecutors denied the charge and, after a long sidebar, the judge overruled the defense objection. Three blacks and nine whites were chosen.

3 to be sentenced in scheme to sell body parts stolen from fumeral homes

PHILADELPHIA (AP) - Three men are scheduled to be sentenced in Philadelphia for their roles in a scheme to plunder cadavers at funeral homes and sell their stolen parts. Michael Mastromarino and brothers Louis and Gerald Garzone have pleaded guilty to charges including abusing corpses and theft. Prosecutors say the scheme entailed carving up bodies without families' permission and without medical tests. Authorities say the sometimes diseased parts were then sold around the country for implants and other procedures. Family members and alleged recipients of tainted tissue are expected to make statements in court Wednesday before the sentencings. Mastromarino is already serving 18 to 54 years in prison for running the scam in New York. Jury selection continues in retired Pa. judge's fraud trial; trial opening likely Wednesday

PITTSBURGH (AP) - A judge says he expects opening statements Wednesday in the federal fraud trial of a retired Pennsylvania appellate judge in Pittsburgh. Retired Superior Court Judge Michael Joyce is charged with mail fraud and money laundering because federal prosecutors say he faked or exaggerated neck and back injuries following a 2001 fender bender to collect $440,000 in insurance claims. The selection process was delayed when a judge temporarily closed jury questioning to the media at the request of prosecutors. The judge relented after he was contacted by a newspaper attorney who objected. More than 60 jurors are being screened based on a 19-page questionnaire they filled out Monday to probe for any potential biases. Senior U.S. District Judge Maurice Cohill says he expects opening statements on Wednesday.

Police: 2 Philly officers shoot man who pulled gun after stop

PHILADELPHIA (AP) - Philadelphia police say two officers shot and killed a man after he pulled a gun on them following a traffic stop. Police say the two highway patrol officers made a routine stop of a car at about 7 p.m. Tuesday in West Philadelphia. Capt. Mel Singleton says the driver fled, and the officers chased him, and when they caught up with him there was a struggle and he pulled a weapon. Singleton says both officers fired their weapons, and the suspect was pronounced dead at the scene.

Voter registration in Pa. continues to climb, surpasses 8.7 million

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) - Pennsylvania elections officials say there are now more than 8.7 million registered voters in the commonwealth. The total includes 4.4 million Democrats, 3.2 million Republicans and more than 1 million independents and members of minor parties. Secretary of State Pedro Cortes says a system of safeguards is in place to ensure that only qualified voters can register and cast ballots in next month's election. The measures include a statewide voter-registration database, a signature-verification system at all polling places and laws that criminalize voter fraud. Oct. 6 was the registration deadline, but county elections officials are still processing applications.

Son, 51, charged with strangling Pa. woman, 85, hiding her body on under brush on game lands

BOLIVAR, Pa. (AP) - The son of an 85-year-old woman whose body was found hidden on state game lands in western Pennsylvania has been charged with her murder. Fifty-one-year-old Frederick Phillips Jr. is charged with first-degree murder and other crimes. Authorities allege that he strangled Anna Phillips earlier this month in her home in Upper Yoder Township near Johnstown, about 60 miles east of Pittsburgh. Township police say the son then drove several miles to the game lands in Westmoreland County where he covered her body with leaves and brush. Police say the suspect is in a West Virginia hospital recovering from a traffic accident. Police say they interviewed him after the crash and that led them to her body Sunday night.

Penn senior sentenced to 3 months, probation in hacker attack that crashed server

PHILADELPHIA (AP) - A University of Pennsylvania senior has been ordered to serve three months in federal prison after admitting he helped crash a school server. Twenty-two-year-old Ryan Goldstein of Ambler also was sentenced to five years probation, including three months in a halfway house. Officials say Penn's engineering school server crashed in 2006 after a deluge of requests for downloads. It was disclosed in court Tuesday that agents found child porn on Goldstein's computer, but he wasn't charged with that offense. Goldstein pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor, and lawyers for both sides say he worked long hours helping the FBI investigate a worldwide hacking enterprise. U.S. District Judge Michael Baylson says it bothers him that Goldstein is getting far less prison time than people with child porn convictions.

Pa. woman is sentenced for trying to kill husband 3 times, claiming he molested her children

BELLEFONTE, Pa. (AP) - A Centre County woman accused of trying to kill her husband three times has been sentenced to 11 1/2 to 23 years in prison. Authorities say the first attempt occurred after the couple had been married just 93 days. Fifty-year-old Christine Balliet, of Muncy, pleaded no contest to stabbing her husband in the chest on Feb. 28, 2007, and running him over with her car. While she was in prison, authorities say, she tried to hire a hit man to kill him and make it look like a suicide. Balliet was also ordered to pay more than $4,000 in restitution to her husband and she was directed not to have any contact with him.

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) - Barack Obama and his running mate, Joe Biden, will meet with a group of the campaign's national security advisers today in Virginia. Afterward, Obama plans to talk publicly about his approach to world affairs, and how it differs from John McCain's.

MANCHESTER, N.H. (AP) - John McCain has always done well in New Hampshire. But polls show the state he'll begin his day in leaning toward Barack Obama by at least 7 points. After a morning rally in New Hampshire, McCain heads to Ohio for a series of events.

KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) - Afghan officials say a U.S.-led airstrike mistakenly killed 9 Afghan soldiers and wounded 3 at an Army checkpoint. The U.S. says it may have been a case of mistaken identity "on both sides." Fighting in southern Afghanistan has also left 35 Taliban militants dead, according to an Afghan official.

WASHINGTON (AP) - Jurors are set to begin deliberating in Senator Ted Stevens' corruption trial, less than two weeks before voters in Alaska decide if Stevens should serve another term in the Senate. He's charged with lying on Senate financial disclosure forms about $250,000 in home renovations and other gifts.

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) - The World Series starts tonight, with the Tampa Bay Rays hosting the Philadelphia Phillies. National League Championship Series MVP Cole Hamels will start for the Phils, who haven't played in a week. Scott Kazmir gets the start for the Rays.


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