Thursday, May 21, 2009

Today's News-Thursday, May 21, 2009


Several fire trucks remained on scene at daybreak following a fire at a Shenandoah home. A Schuylkill County Comm center supervisor tells WPPA News that the call came just before 1am. All borough companies responded to the home at 320 West Penn Street. No injuries were reported.


State police are looking for people who have been victimized in a crime spree. Three males were identified by troopers for shooting up vehicles with pellet guns, rummaging through and taking items from unoccupied vehicles and committing retail thefts. The crimes occurred in the Tower City and Pine Grove areas. Their identities haven't been release. If you believe you have been affected by this crime spree, contact Schuylkill Haven state police at 593-2000.


An area man was sentenced to 4 to 12 years in state prison Wednesday for bilking people out of more than $300 thousand dollars. The Republican Herald reports that Thomas Wiley Jr admitted he took the money, but can't remember what he did with much of the money. Wiley took money from the victims, with the intention of investing it for them. The guilty plea includes theft related charges, forgery and bad check counts. Judge John Domalakes mandated that Wiley make restitution to his victims.


A northern Schuylkill County man has admitted to participating in a drug and gambling operation with his father. 23 year old Mickey Stockunas pleaded to the federal charges in connection with the ring worked with his father, 46 year old Michael Stockunas, and two other men. Mickey Stockunas allegedly set up a meth delivery service and collected debts from gambling bookies for his father. Sentencing will take place on the charges later. Stockunas could see up to 9 years in jail and a half million dollar fine.


Shenandoah borough police are looking for the individuals who broke into a business last week, taking a big piece of equipment. Reports indicate that Crespin Garrido-Rijo, Reading said that the business he owns on North Main Street was entered through a rear garage door and thieves took a 500 pound tire changing machine. Anyone with information on the burglary should call Shenandoah PD at 462-1991.


A construction site in Mary D was burglarized earlier this week, according to Frackville state police. Between Tuesday night and Wednesday morning, two large electric pumps, a laser level and other equipment was taken from a storage shed on Walnut Avenue. The building is being used by Berner Construction Incorporated, Gap. If you have information that can aid state police in the investigation, call 874-5300.


In a follow up to a story we told you about yesterday, a Pottsville man got more than he bargained for when he tried to flee from police. 37 year old Anthony Holland led state police on a chase in excess of 80 miles per hour in Pine Grove Township. Holland drove wildly to elude state police, and ended up in a marshy area near Sweet Arrow Lake. After the wreck, Holland fled on foot, but was quickly apprehended in a creek. Charges against Holland include aggravated and simple assault, fleeing police, driving with a suspended license and other traffic violations. He remains in Schuylkill County Prison.

Ex-Fumo aide gets 30 months for destroying e-mails
PHILADELPHIA (AP) - A loyal aide to former Pennsylvania Sen. Vincent Fumo has been sentenced to 30 months for obstructing an FBI investigation of his boss. Computer technician Leonard "Lenny" Luchko of Collingdale admits he destroyed years worth of e-mails sought by the FBI. The long-powerful Fumo faces more than a decade in prison at his July sentencing on 137 counts. Luchko pleaded guilty to conspiracy and obstruction, but continued to support Fumo in e-mails and blog postings. Prosecutors had to scratch him as a witness at Fumo's trial.
The 52-year-old Luchko testified Wednesday that he realized only belated that Fumo was "a crook" and that he was "a criminal." He calls his 10 years of work for Fumo a lie.

Democratic Philly DA candidate looks to November
PHILADELPHIA (AP) - The Democratic nominee for Philadelphia district attorney expects to be busy between now and the general election. Forty-two-year-old Seth Williams dispatched four other former prosecutors in Tuesday's primary. If elected in November, he would
be Philadelphia's first black DA. Williams will be the heavy favorite against little-known
Republican Michael Untermeyer. Democratic voters outnumber Republicans nearly 7-1 in Philadelphia. Williams says he will study the practices of prosecutors in other cities. He's also planning to meet with police, community groups and local officials in Philadelphia. He plans to visit New York to talk about efforts to prosecute big businesses. He'll go to San Francisco to talk to the DA there about a program for first-time, nonviolent offenders.

Erie, Pa., TV station has transmitter failure
ERIE, Pa. (AP) - A northwestern Pennsylvania television station was off the air for about two hours because the transmitter failed. The transmitter for Erie Fox affiliate WFXP-TV failed just
before 8 p.m. Wednesday and the problem was fixed just before 10 p.m.. The failure happened just before the season finale of "American Idol." The station is seeking permission from the network to rebroadcast the show.

Pa.'s newest slots parlor to open Friday
BETHLEHEM, Pa. (AP) - After two days of testing, Pennsylvania gambling regulators have granted approval for a slot-machine parlor to open to the public Friday. Sands Casino Resort Bethlehem spokesman Ron Reese says people can start gambling there at 9 a.m. Friday.
Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board spokesman Richard McGarvey says testing finished at 8 p.m. Wednesday with everything running smoothly. The casino's profits from the two test days were donated to nonprofit groups.

Pa. city tries to collect old trash fees
CHESTER, Pa. (AP) - The southeastern Pennsylvania city of Chester is trying to collect $3 million in delinquent trash collection fees. Mayor Wendell Butler says many people thought their trash fees were part of property tax payments, but that's not so. For a decade, the city's computer system couldn't track delinquent trash bills. A state-funded $80,000 upgrade fixed that problem, so 4,000 property owners in the city got letters telling them to pay. City officials say they need the money. They say they'll accept payment plans and they're working on an amnesty plan to eliminate interest fees. Also, seniors with incomes below $15,000 qualify for
an exemption.

Northern Ky. lime plant lays off 43
BUTLER, Ky. (AP) - A mine and lime plant in northern Kentucky has laid off 43 employees since last month. The facility near Butler in Pendleton County is owned by Pittsburgh-based Carmeuse Lime & Stone. Senior Vice President of Sales and Marketing Philip Johnson told
the Lexington Herald-Leader that the facility laid off 34 workers in early April and nine more this month. The Black River Kentucky plant produces lime that is used for industrial applications in businesses such as the steel industry. Johnson notes the steel industry has been devastated this year and said Carmeuse had to reduce production capacity. The Butler plant is still operating but at a lower capacity. Vice President of Operations Carroll Laufmann says it will employ about 160.

Heavy write-in turnout in Pa. mayors' races
HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) - In two Pennsylvania cities, there were more write-in votes in the Republican primary for mayor than for the only candidate on the ballot. In Scranton, there were twice as many write-in votes than for Bob Bolus, the only Republican on the ballot in the mayor's race. Bolus isn't conceding defeat, noting that those write-ins haven't been tallied yet. He says "they could be for the pope." And in Harrisburg, there were 426 write-in votes in the
Republican mayoral primary, topping the 405 votes cast for Nevin Mindlin. Longtime incumbent Mayor Stephen Reed conceded defeat in the Democratic primary on Tuesday but has gotten the GOP nomination through write-in votes in past elections.

Fake Cherokee chief guilty in Pa. investment fraud
ERIE, Pa. (AP) - A former Pennsylvania man who pretended to be a Cherokee Indian chief with ties to a charitable organization and the oil industry has pleaded guilty in federal court to a
multimillion-dollar wire fraud conspiracy. Seventy-nine-year-old Robert Eugene Cheney, who now lives in Las Vegas, will be sentenced Sept. 3. Federal prosecutors in Erie say Cheney and another man stole at least $2.5 million from at least 10 investors in the U.S. and Canada who believed they were investing in oil exploration ventures through a joint venture involving the bogus entities. A judge is still determining whether the other defendant is competent to stand trial. The men lived in Conneaut (kaw-NEE'-awt) Lake in northwestern Pennsylvania during the scam which ran from 2003 until last year.

Police: Pa. sex offender had teen pics on phone
SALTSBURG, Pa. (AP) - A convicted sex offender is jailed on charges he had sex with four teenage girls whose explicit pictures were found on his cell phone. State police say 20-year-old Shawn Simms, of Saltsburg, is also charged with not registering under Megan's Law after he was
convicted in 2007 of sexually assaulting a minor. Megan's Law requires people deemed sexual predators to alert police so their neighbors can be notified of their criminal sexual history.
Simms was charged after he was arrested on an unrelated theft count and his phone was seized when he was found to be in violation of his parole. Two of the alleged victims are 15, two are 17.

90 chow chows seized from Pa. home
LANCASTER, Pa. (AP) - Police and animal officials have seized 90 chow chow dogs from a south-central Pennsylvania home. Two dead dogs were also found in the home in East Lampeter
Township, Lancaster County, about 60 miles west of Philadelphia. The Humane League of Lancaster County has turned to other animal welfare organizations to care for the dogs seized Tuesday afternoon. A Humane League official says the woman who owns the home was
apparently trying to rescue the dogs and became overwhelmed.

WWII ship guns arrive at Pa. military museum
BOALSBURG, Pa. (AP) - Two massive gun barrels from the World War II-era battleship the USS Pennsylvania have arrived at their final home. The 14-inch barrels arrived Wednesday at the Pennsylvania Military Museum in Boalsburg. The 66-ton tubes were transported from a U.S. naval testing facility in Dahlgren, Va., where they had been stored since shortly after the ship was fitted with new guns in 1945. The barrels were on the ship on Dec. 7, 1941, when it survived the attack on Pearl Harbor. The tubes laid in storage until they were rediscovered in 1999, setting off a decade-long effort to bring the barrels to the museum outside State College.
Museum education Joe Horvath said repairs are planned before the tubes are lifted onto a permanent cradle this summer.

Boy, 4, walks home from Pittsburgh preschool
PITTSBURGH (AP) - Pittsburgh Public Schools officials are trying to figure out how a 4-year-old boy slipped away from his preschool and walked home about a mile away. School officials are still investigating Monday's incident at Greenway Early Childhood Center. School officials had already begun to search for Maurice Floyd when they learned he'd made it home about 10 minutes later. His mother, Markeya McCary, says her son told her he left because someone tried to lock him in a closet School officials are still investigating that claim. To prevent a repeat of Monday's incident, safety caps are going on doorknobs so only adults can open doors. Also, an extra teacher has been added to the classroom and teachers are getting walkie-talkies.

Pittsburgh schools: Snake wasn't used as jump rope
PITTSBURGH (AP) - A spokeswoman for Pittsburgh Public Schools says a high school student swung around a snake from a biology class, but didn't use it as a jump rope as police had said.
Schools spokeswoman Ebony Pugh said Wednesday, "It's not a big enough snake to jump rope with." She also says the albino corn snake is OK and didn't need to be treated by a veterinarian after Monday's incident. Police say the 17-year-old Taylor Allderdice High School student
will be charged with theft and cruelty to animals.

WASHINGTON (AP) - President Barack Obama is preparing to deliver a major address on national security this morning after the Senate denied his request for $80 million to close Guantanamo. Yesterday's 90-6 vote underscores widespread apprehension among lawmakers over Obama's plans to shut down the prison.

WASHINGTON (AP) - An Obama administration official says a top al-Qaida suspect will be moved from Guantanamo to stand trial in New York. The detainee was indicted in New York for the 1998 bombings of U.S. embassies in Africa that left 224 dead.

HONG KONG (AP) - Asian stock markets are following Wall Street lower after the U.S. central bank predicted America could suffer through an even deeper recession than first thought. Benchmarks in Tokyo, Hong Kong and other major markets were about 1 percent lower.

MAGETAN, Indonesia (AP) - Indonesia's military is insisting a plane that crashed and killed nearly 100 people yesterday was in good condition. The military says the C-130 Hercules plane passed a flight test the day before it nose-dived into a village and erupted in flames. Indonesia's president is promising a thorough investigation.

CAPE CANAVERAL (AP) - Atlantis' astronauts are hoping to wrap up their last day in orbit today. They're conducting routine tests on landing systems before their planned touch down. Before they're due back on Earth, the crew will testify briefly about NASA's budget before Congress.


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Pittsburgh Criminal Attorney, Phillip P. DiLucente, voted one of Pennsylvania's elite rising stars by Super Lawyers magazine.

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