Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Today's News- Wednesday, February 25, 2009


A Tamaqua woman died Tuesday as the result of a crash on Tumbling Run Road in North Manheim Township. State police report that 53 year old Maureen Kalymun was headed west near the Tumbling Run Dam when, for unknown reasons, her car crossed lanes and struck two rocks on a steep embankment. Her car apparently tumbled end over end, and she was ejected from the car. County Deputy Coroner Paul Kennedy pronounced her dead at the scene. State police believe Kalymun was not wearing her seatbelt. Tumbling Run Road was closed for two hours following the 10am accident.


A two decades old murder case is expected to come to a conclusion today in Schuylkill County Court. 43-year-old Joseph Geiger of Pottsville, accused in the 1985 death of David Reed of Schuylkill Haven, is expected to plead guilty to a charge of involuntary manslaughter. Geiger was arrested last fall, 23 years after Reed went missing, and charged with third degree murder, involuntary manslaughter and related counts. Geiger dragged Reed's body into the woods in Schuylkill Haven, and was found nearly 4 months later. Geiger has been in the Schuylkill County Prison since his arrest.


Nearly 70 people gathered at the Hamburg High School last night to witness a debate between the candidates vying for the 29th Senatorial District seat next Tuesday. The event, sponsored by the North Rgion of the Berks County GOP, covered a wide array of questions from moderator John D. Forrester Jr. of the Reading Eagle, including property taxes, the size of state government, education and healthcare. The candidates positions were similar on many topics. Kerry DeLong of Hamburg offered his assessment on reducing the size of state government:


Questions were developed by Forrester and also taken from the audience.

Hundreds pay respects to murdered pregnant woman

NEW CASTLE, Pa. (AP) - Hundreds of people stood for hours in freezing temperatures to pay their respects to a western Pennsylvania woman who was murdered weeks before she was to give birth. At the funeral in New Castle, the body of 26-year-old Kenzie Marie Houk was dressed in a red sweater. Near her feet were two blue baby booties for the baby she was to deliver. Beside her was a red pillow with the words "Special Mom" embroidered in white. Meanwhile, a judge says the 11-year-old boy accused of killing Houk should await trial in juvenile detention, not the county jail. Jordan Brown is charged as an adult, but his lawyer is trying to get the case moved to juvenile court.

Rulings keep secret Pa. lawmaker-lobbyist contacts

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) - The Associated Press isn't appealing a ruling from the state Legislature denying a request to see correspondence between lawmakers and lobbyists.
Appeals officers for both chambers of the Legislature say such correspondence doesn't qualify as a public record under the law. The Associated Press had requested communications last year between registered lobbyists and the Democratic and Republican leaders of each chamber. The caucuses denied the requests last month. The AP then appealed to the designated appeals officers, who rejected the requests Tuesday. Pennsylvania Newspaper Association lawyer Teri Henning says she generally agrees with their analysis.

Pa. open-records office: birth dates are public

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) - The head of the Pennsylvania Office of Open Records says some of the first rulings about what is a public record show her office is fair. The office says the names of government contractors' employees and public employees' dates of birth are public. Office director Terry Mutchler says her only client is the law. The latest decisions involve the Quakertown Community School District and the Port Authority of Allegheny County. In Quakertown, the school district granted a request to release certified payroll forms for a subcontractor working on a school renovation project, but blacked out the employees' names. A school district official says the district doesn't plan to appeal the ruling. The Port Authority provided payroll records, but wouldn't provide employees' dates of birth.

Prothonotary helping feds in Pa. corruption probe

SCRANTON, Pa. (AP) - Court papers show that a Luzerne County court official had to resign from her job as part of an agreement with federal prosecutors. Prothonotary Jill Moran said in her letter of resignation that her presence in the courthouse was a distraction. The agreement Moran signed with prosecutors says she approached federal authorities with information that others had tried to use her to commit fraud. Moran denies criminal wrongdoing. She isn't charged with a crime but the agreement says she might be if she violates her agreement to cooperate. Moran's law partner, Robert Powell, allegedly paid kickbacks to two Luzerne County judges who pleaded guilty to corruption this month. Powell hasn't been charged. The prothonotary is the custodian of civil court records.

Pa. court has prosecutor probe DeNaples case leaks

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) - Dauphin County District Attorney Ed Marsico says his office will fully cooperate with a special prosecutor. The Pennsylvania Supreme Court ordered the appointment of such a prosecutor to look into alleged violations of grand jury secrecy. The case involves leaks from a grand jury that ultimately indicted northeastern Pennsylvania casino owner Louis DeNaples and a co-defendant on perjury charges. DeNaples is accused of lying under oath to get a casino license. DeNaples has maintained his innocence. His spokesman Kevin Feeley applauded the Supreme Court's decision to investigate further. He says leaks from the grand jury damaged DeNaples' ability to be treated fairly.

71-year-old man fatally beaten in Phila. home

PHILADELPHIA (AP) - A Philadelphia man is accused of beating his 71-year-old neighbor with a trash can and a shovel, killing him. Police say 44-year-old Michael Bocchinfuso was arrested Tuesday and faces charges of murder and related offenses in the death of Dallas Custalow. Police say Bocchinfuso pummeled Custalow on Monday evening, but he ran to his home and barricaded himself inside. He held police at bay for hours before his arrest.

Pa. man pleads guilty to gun trafficking in NJ

MORRISTOWN, N.J. (AP) - A Pennsylvania man has pleaded guilty to illegally selling guns in New Jersey that he had purchased in Pennsylvania. Under the plea agreement announced Tuesday, New Jersey prosecutors will recommend that 26-year-old David Murray of Equinunk, Pa., be sentenced to 10 years in state prison, including five years without possibility of parole. Sentencing is scheduled for April 17 in New Jersey Superior Court in Morristown. The charges resulted from an undercover investigation by the New Jersey State Police and agents of the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. Prosecutors say Murray sold undercover officers handguns, sawed-off shotguns, an AK-47 assault rifle and ammunition from an auto repair shop where he worked in Chatham. Murray formerly lived in Chatham. He was arrested in October and pleaded guilty on Monday.

Co-defendant blamed in Pa. pornographer's death

WILKES-BARRE, Pa. (AP) - A lawyer for a man accused of killing a rival in the gay-porn industry in his northeastern Pennsylvania home is pinning the blame on his client's ex-lover.
Harlow Cuadra of Virginia Beach, Va., is charged in the death of 44-year-old Bryan Kocis in rural Luzerne County on Jan. 24, 2007. A prosecutor told jurors Tuesday that he has a recording of the 27-year-old defendant telling a friend, "It was quick; he never saw it coming." In the first public airing of Cuadra's side of the story, defense lawyer Joseph D'Andrea blamed 35-year-old Joseph Kerekes, also of Virginia Beach. The two co-owned a pornography and prostitution business, but D'Andrea says Kerekes was the dominant partner. Kerekes pleaded guilty in December to second-degree murder.

W.Pa. trooper seeks dismissal of brutality case

PITTSBURGH (AP) - A Pennsylvania state trooper who shot an unarmed 12-year-old boy, triggering a $12.5 million legal settlement, wants an unrelated civil suit claiming brutality
dismissed. Twenty-seven-year-old Christopher Strothers, of Pittsburgh, claims Trooper Samuel Nassan assaulted him outside a Pittsburgh bar in July. Strothers claims city police were breaking up a fight involving Strothers' friends when Nassan intervened, handcuffed him and threw him to the ground. Strothers' ankle was broken. The state attorney general's office, which is representing Nassan, says he acted within his duties as a law enforcement officer and is protected from being sued. Nassan and his former partner were sued for shooting a Uniontown boy on Christmas Eve 2002. The case settled for $12.5 million in October.

Pa. man sentenced for attack on hospital patient

SCRANTON, Pa. (AP) - A northeastern Pennsylvania man is getting two to four years in prison for what authorities call a random attack on a hospital patient. Neither 32-year-old Tyree Seneca Burgess of Scranton nor his lawyer has explained the Nov. 3 crime. Burgess pleaded guilty to indecent assault and simple assault in January and was sentenced Tuesday. Police say Burgess bypassed hospital security before walking into a patient's room, holding her down, ripping open her nightgown and fondling her breasts.

Man to stand trial in principal punching case

PITTSBURGH (AP) - A Pittsburgh man charged with punching a principal and her assistant after he tried to take his son from class will stand trial. Police say 40-year-old Taru Davis hit Morrow Elementary School Principal Annette Scott Piper in the face, then hit Betty Huguley
when she intervened on Feb. 16. Piper testified Tuesday that Davis punched her so hard that he knocked her to the ground. She says he continued punching her as she was on the ground. Davis' wife, Tracy Davis, has said their son gets migraines and his father wanted to take him home because he wasn't feeling well. School officials say he didn't follow protocol. Davis was held for trial on charges of aggravated assault, trespassing and disorderly conduct.

NE Pa. city closes apartments deemed nuisances

WILKES-BARRE, Pa. (AP) - A northeastern Pennsylvania city has a new law that lets city employees shut down rental properties that are deemed nuisances. Wilkes-Barre's new law lets city employees kick out tenants if there are three or more police reports at a property within six months. Landlords must pay any outstanding fines and get buildings inspected before anyone can move back in. Mayor Tom Leighton says neighbors were grateful after the first apartment house was shut down under the new law Monday. But displaced tenant Mark Reichenwallner says he's lived in the building for two years and he's done nothing wrong. His neighbor is accused of selling heroin and other drugs. Reichenwallner says he has no place to go.

WASHINGTON (AP) - President Barack Obama is reminding the nation: "We are not quitters." Obama offered a message of reality and hope in his first prime-time speech to a nation reeling from recession and facing long-festering problems.

HONG KONG (AP) - It wasn't the broad rally seen on Wall Street but Asian stocks rose modestly today on word there are no plans to nationalize major U.S. banks. U.S. Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke also says the recession might end this year.

WASHINGTON (AP) - It's try, try again for President Barack Obama as he prepares to name another candidate to head the Commerce Department after the first two didn't work out. Obama is set to name former Washington Gov. Gary Locke today.

BAGHDAD (AP) - Iraq says its forces will be ready when the time comes to take on the full responsibility for its own security. The Iraqi government today welcomed reports that President Barack Obama will order U.S. combat troops out by August 2010.

NEW ORLEANS (AP) - The cleanup crews have taken over in New Orleans after the official end of Mardi Gras revelry. Many participants turned the tables on the recession, dressing in
costumes poking fun at bailouts, the stimulus package and busted budgets.


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