Friday, February 27, 2009

Today's News-Friday, February 27, 2009


A former small time drug dealer has pleaded guilty in the 1985 death of a 13 year old Schuylkill Haven boy he suspected of stealing his marijuana plants. Forty three year old Joseph Geiger, Pottsville, pleaded guilty to involuntary manslaughter in county court yesterday. He will serve 1 to 2 years in prison, with credit for time served. In exchange for the plea, a third degree murder charge was dropped. Geiger was arrested last August, 23 years to the day that David Reed went missing. Reed's decomposed remains were found near Geiger's home months later. Schuylkill County Assistant DA AJ Serina says Joseph Geiger, showed remorse over the years, stating that after he punched Reed in the face, the boy fell back and hit his head. Serina says Geiger visited Reed's grave and even worked at the cemetery where he was buried. Officials believe that Geiger didn't intend to kill Reed, and medical experts believe if help was sought immediately, Reed may have survived.


State police are looking for the burglars who broke into a South Manheim Township Day Care. Between Wednesday and Thursday, someone pried open a window at St Paul's Daycare on Summer Hill Road. They took a computer, other office equipment and supplies and food from the center,then fled. If you can help state police with the investigation, call the Schuylkill Haven barracks at 593-2000.


A Schuylkill Haven woman avoided injury when her car crashed Thursday morning in Berks County. Hamburg troopers say 50 year old Linda Koenig was traveling east on Schaefferstown Road and lost control on the icy road, striking a utility pole and tree with her vehicle. Electric wires were left hanging over the road. The crash happened around 7am yesterday.

Pa. state legislator critically ill with pneumonia

MOUNT CARMEL, Pa. (AP) - A state legislator from northeastern Pennsylvania is critically ill with pneumonia. State Rep. Robert Belfanti's wife, Cecilia, released a statement Thursday thanking the community for messages of support and good will. Belfanti was airlifted to Hershey Medical Center on Wednesday afternoon. Belfanti, a Democrat, serves all of Montour County and parts of Northumberland and Columbia counties. The 60-year-old man has been a member of the state House since 1981. He is currently chairman of the Labor Relations Committee and a member of the Rules Committee.

Pa. man says wife's shotgun death was accident

BEDFORD, Pa. (AP) - A western Pennsylvania man accused of killing his estranged wife with a shotgun outside the McDonald's restaurant where she worked says it was an accident. Bedford County prosecutors are seeking the death penalty for 38-year-old John Lewis Gerholt. The Mount Union man is charged with first-degree murder in the Nov. 9 death of 24-year-old Karen Marie Gerhold. The shooting happened near Everett, which is about 90 miles east-southeast of Pittsburgh. Defense lawyer Thomas Dickey said after Thursday's arraignment that the defense can show the shooting was an accident, but he would not offer specifics.

Fumo lawyer calls corruption case 'overblown'

PHILADELPHIA (AP) - A defense lawyer for former state Sen. Vincent Fumo says the corruption charges against his client are the result of "an overblown, overreaching prosecution." Defense lawyer Edwin Jacobs told jurors in his closing argument that Fumo got relatively little from a nonprofit he started, despite charges he defrauded it. Jacobs says the Philadelphia Democrat could have pocketed a large commission for steering a $17 million gift from an electric company to the Citizens' Alliance for Better Neighborhoods. During the four-month trial, prosecutors said Fumo defrauded the Citizens' Alliance out of $1.1 million by improperly taking its vehicles, power tools, staff time and other assets. The defense is expected to finish its closing argument early next week. Then the judge will give the case to the jury.

Review panel OKs Pa. lobbyist-disclosure rules

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) - Pennsylvania Attorney General Tom Corbett says there's a good chance that someone will challenge lobbyist disclosure rules in court. But he says it's important to get the rules on the books now and worry about legal challenges later, when and if they happen. Proposed lobbyist disclosure rules got a key panel's approval Thursday. The Independent Regulatory Review Commission voted 3-1 to approve the new rules. The vote culminated a two-hour discussion that revolved largely around a provision that dictates when someone must register with the state as a lobbyist. The vote moves the proposal back to the Legislature, where House and Senate committees will conduct a final review before the regulations are put into effect.

Philadelphia detective shot; suspect killed

PHILADELPHIA (AP) - A Philadelphia police detective was shot in the upper thigh while serving a warrant on a fugitive who was killed in the ensuing shootout. Deputy Police Commissioner Richard Ross says Detective Albert Ford Jr. is expected to recover. Ford was listed in stable condition at a hospital hours after the shooting. Ross says Ford and another officer were serving a warrant Thursday on 25-year-old Kevin Robinson, who was wanted for a shooting that happened in October. Officials say the suspect ran from the officers then turned and fired, striking Ford in the thigh. The officers returned fire, killing Robinson. Ford is the latest Philadelphia police officer to be involved in a shooting with a suspect. Five officers have been killed in the line of duty in the last year.

Pa. judge says FBI shooting belongs in fed court

PITTSBURGH (AP) - A county judge says a Pittsburgh-area woman should be prosecuted in federal court on charges she killed an FBI agent. Allegheny County Judge Joseph Williams' told the brother-in-law of the shooting suspect, 40-year-old Christine Korbe, on Thursday that his motion to move charges from federal court to state court would be decided in federal court. George Waksmunski, who has no legal training, claimed that the federal government unjustly took jurisdiction from the state. Williams says the federal court has the right to assume jurisdiction because a federal agent was involved. Federal prosecutors want a federal judge to dismiss the motion as "nonsensical." Korbe is accused of shooting FBI Special Agent Samuel Hicks when he came to arrest her husband on drug charges at their Glenshaw home Nov. 19. Korbe says she shot Hicks thinking he was an intruder.

Officer's gun found in public restroom

WILLIAMSPORT, Pa. (AP) - Pennsylvania State Police are investigating whether any laws were violated when a city police officer's gun was found in a public restroom. Montoursville Police Chief Dan Strailey said Thursday that the gun was found Feb. 10 in the women's room of a department store in his borough. He says a customer alerted store management, who in turn called police. Strailey says the gun belonged to a patrolman in the Williamsport police, who reportedly lent it to a female acquaintance who had a permit to carry a gun. Since the Williamsport officer has a brother who works for the borough of Montoursville, the investigation was turned over to state police. The state trooper assigned to the case says the investigation is continuing.

Sick Pa. workers to be compensated

WASHINGTON (AP) - Former nuclear workers at a western Pennsylvania plant who are sick could receive $150,000 in compensation plus medical help under a government program. The Department of Labor announced Thursday that Atomic Weapons Employer employees who worked at Vitro Manufacturing in Canonsburg, Pa., during a set period in the 1940s and '50s are eligible. Under the program, former workers diagnosed with one of 22 specific cancers are presumed to have received it from working at the plant and will receive compensation. A worker's survivors are also sometimes eligible.

Pa. woman gets jail for swindling NYC man, 93

NEW YORK (AP) - A Pittsburgh woman who admitted stealing $800,000 from a 93-year-old New York City man with Alzheimer's disease has been sentenced to two to six years in prison. Alexandra Gilmore of Pittsburgh was sentenced Thursday in Queens. The 37-year-old pleaded guilty earlier this month to grand larceny as a hate crime. Her scheme was considered a hate crime because of the victim's age. Prosecutors say that between 2004 and 2006, Gilmore took advantage of the man's confusion and fraudulently refinanced a Queens property he owned to steal its equity. Authorities say she and an acquaintance later contrived to steal ownership of his home elsewhere in Queens. A case against the acquaintance continues.

Pa. judges face 3rd suit over alleged kickbacks

ALLENTOWN, Pa. (AP) - A third lawsuit has been filed against two disgraced Pennsylvania judges charged with taking kickbacks to send youth offenders to private detention centers. The latest suit was filed on behalf of Luzerne County juvenile offenders sentenced between 2003 and 2008. It claims Mark Ciavarella and Michael Conahan perpetrated "what ranks as one of the largest and most serious violations of children's rights in the history of the American legal system." It was filed Thursday in federal court by the Philadelphia-based Juvenile Law Center. Prosecutors say Ciavarella and Conahan took $2.6 million in payoffs. The judges pleaded guilty to fraud earlier this month and face more than seven years in prison. Federal authorities also have arrested a court administrator and a top probation official, and the investigation prompted the county prothonotary to resign.

Pa. jail makes plan to prevent repeat of jailbreak

HONESDALE, Pa. (AP) - An engineer says there's a design flaw in a northeastern Pennsylvania jail that allowed two inmates to escape in January. The two inmates who escaped from the Wayne County Correctional Facility were caught about an hour later. County Engineer Stephen Knash says the inmates got out through doors that had been installed in the recreation yard to remove snow. Those doors had been left unsecured. Knash proposed adding special cage-like fencing and an additional gate around all three recreation area doors. Wayne County commissioners are seeking bids from contractors to install the security features Knash proposed. The county expects to spend about $60,000.

HONG KONG (AP) - A lot of investors are staying on the sidelines amid continuing worries about deteriorating economic conditions. Asian stock markets were narrowly mixed today with indexes in Japan, Taiwan and South Korea gaining. Other exchanges declined and U.S. futures are little changed.

WASHINGTON (AP) - Revised numbers due out today suggest the economy's downhill slide at the end of last year was much steeper than thought. A Commerce Department report is expected to show the economy contracted at a pace of 5.4 percent, not 3.8 percent as
originally reported.

BAGHDAD (AP) - Iraq's prime minister says it's time for new economic plans that reduce dependence on oil and gas revenues. Nouri al-Maliki tells a conference that Saddam Hussein's regime and the insurgency that followed destroyed Iraq's agriculture and much of the oil infrastructure.

DHAKA, Bangladesh (AP) - The Bangladeshi government says security forces have been busy rounding up fleeing border guards following a bloody, two-day mutiny. At least 40 people died when the border guards rose up against their commanders. About 300 are in custody.

ATLANTA (AP) - Court appearances are scheduled for four people accused of being part of an assisted suicide ring that aided in the death of a Georgia man. Two were arrested in Maryland and face extradition proceedings. The other two were arrested in Georgia.


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