Saturday, February 19, 2011








Former County Custody Consilliator, Lynn Bressi, was arrested by Pottsville Police and arraigned before Magisterial District Judge James Reilly on felony charges that include theft by deception, receiving stolen property, tampering with records or identification, solicitation to tamper with records or identification, and a misdemeanor charge of intimidation of a witness. According to a news release the charges stem from a criminal investigation by the Pottsville Police and a State Grand Jury presentment that focused on Bressi's illegal billing practices in which she bilked Schuylkill County out of $6,000 for billing for services she never performed between January 5, 2006 and October 2, 2009. Bressi was released from her arraignment on $50 thousand unsecured bail. There were conditions as part of her release that include having no contact with any witnesses identified in the case.


The public can help locate missing persons who may be in danger because of such factors as age or health through a new advisory system. "The Missing Endangered Person Advisory System" or MEPAS will more likely be used most often when an elderly person with a disability or a young child wanders away from their home or caregiver. MEPAS will provide information to broadcasters to relay to the public and also notify law enforcement and other agencies. This alert system should not be confused with the Amber Alert System that was established in 2002 to broadcast information regarding child abductions.


SCRANTON, Pa. (AP) - A former Pennsylvania judge has been convicted of racketeering for his role in a $2.8 million scheme involving a pair of for-profit youth detention centers. In one of the biggest courtroom scandals in U.S. history,
Luzerne County ex-Judge Mark Ciavarella was charged with taking kickbacks from the builder of the juvenile facilities and extorting hundreds of thousands of dollars from their co-owner. Ciaverella faced a 39-count indictment. A federal jury in Scranton returned its verdict Friday, convicting him on 12 counts, including racketeering and conspiracy. The state Supreme Court tossed thousands of juvenile convictions issued by Ciavarella, saying they were tainted. A second former judge, Michael Conahan, pleaded guilty to racketeering conspiracy and awaits sentencing.

Two Shenadoah businesses located a block apart were robbed late Friday afternoon and police believe the same man committed both crimes. The pharmacy at Rite Aid, 15 S. Main St., was robbed about 5:30 p.m. Employees described the suspect as a white male, 5 feet 9 inches to 5 feet 11 inches tall, wearing a black zipped coat, black hat, baggy blue jeans and black sneakers. Police said the man approached the pharmacy counter, showed a gun and demanded pills. It is not known how many, if any, pills were given to the suspect. According to the Republican and Herald, the suspect was recorded by a security camera entering Rite Aid, but Shenandoah police Chief Joseph Hall said he kept his head down, hiding his face. About 45 minutes after the pharmacy robbery, a man fitting the same description entered Puff Discount Cigarette Store at 12 N. Main St. demanding cash, police said; however, no gun was shown at the tobacco store. Police said the man fled the scene on foot and they were not sure how much money was stolen. Police said no one was injured in either incident. Witnesses who were near both the pharmacy and tobacco store said they saw the man running through the downtown. It was reported a man fitting a description of the suspect was seen running on West Poplar Street and later driving toward Gilberton.


A 17-year-old Maryland boy was arrested by state police and charged with receiving stolen property after a vehicle stop on Interstate 81 at mile marker 129.6 in Mahanoy Township, at 8:42 p.m. Wednesday. State police at Frackville said they stopped a vehicle driven by the Waldorf teenager and found the vehicle did not belong to him. Troopers said the vehicle was towed and the investigation revealed the vehicle was stolen from Car Care in Waldorf. Unspecified charges were filed and, troopers said, the teen was turned over to Schuylkill County Juvenile Probation authorities.


Both drivers involved in a two-car crash in which no one was injured Wednesday afternoon will face charges, state police at Schuylkill Haven said. In an attempt to turn into the Cressona Mall parking lot from the northbound lanes of Route 61 about 2:25 p.m., Troopers said Courtney B. Dallas, 33, of Honey Brook, drove a 2004 Saab 93 into the path of a southbound 1999 Chevrolet Malibu driven by Robert W. Price, 41, of Saint Clair. Dallas' vehicle sustained disabling damage to its rear passenger side while Price's vehicle sustained minor damage to the driver-side front end, troopers said. Troopers said Dallas will face charges stemming from the crash while Price will be charged for operating a vehicle with an expired inspection. Charges against both will be filed at the office of Magisterial District Judge David A. Platchko, Port Carbon.


Ex-intern testifies in Pa. Sen. Orie trial

PITTSBURGH (AP) - The legislative intern who blew the whistle on alleged illegal campaign work being done at the office of Republican state Sen. Jane Orie has begun testifying at Orie's
corruption trial. Jennifer Knapp Rioja says she had first contacted the state Department of Elections and the state attorney general's office before contacting Allegheny County District Attorney Stephen Zappala about what she perceived to be "illegal" campaign activity being done by Orie's staff for her sister, then Superior Court Judge Joan Orie Melvin. Rioja says she saw campaign checks for Melvin being processed by an Orie staffer and learned that another intern was doing campaign research for Melvin in the late summer and fall of 2009, during Melvin's ultimately successful bid for a seat on the state Supreme Court.


Corbett warned to delay Pa. health care plan's end

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) - An advocate for the poor is warning Gov.
Tom Corbett's administration that it is violating federal law by
moving to kick about 41,000 low-income adults off a
state-subsidized health care plan without first seeing if any are
eligible for Medicaid.
Philadelphia-based Community Legal Services wrote this week to
top Corbett administration officials. It's asking the state
Insurance Department to delay the Feb. 28 end of adultBasic
coverage until people who are also eligible for Medicaid are
transferred into the program.
A call to a Corbett spokeswoman wasn't immediately returned
Community Legal Services says it's likely that more than half of
adultBasic enrollees are eligible for Medicaid, a state-federal
program offering coverage of the poor and disabled.
Corbett says adultBasic is out of money and the state can't
continue it.


Teens face trial in attempted robbery of lawmaker

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) - Two teenagers will be tried on charges
they attempted to rob a state lawmaker as he returned to his
apartment near the Capitol.
Sen. Tim Solobay testified during a preliminary hearing in
Harrisburg that four teens confronted him as he was getting out of
his car last fall.
The Washington County Democrat said one threatened him with a
gun but ran off when Solobay activated the vehicle's fire siren.
Solobay is also Canonsburg's fire chief.
Police caught two suspects 20 minutes after the incident but did
not find a weapon.
On Friday, Solobay said all four assailants were wearing masks
and that he could only identify their clothing.
A district judge upheld felony robbery and conspiracy charges
against the pair of 16-year-olds.


Pa. jail guard charged again in alleged beating

PITTSBURGH (AP) - A western Pennsylvania jail guard charged in
state court with beating an inmate now faces a federal count of
depriving that prisoner of his civil rights.
Allegheny County Jail guard Arii Metz pleaded not guilty at his
arraignment in federal court in Pittsburgh on Friday.
Metz was charged in state court last fall with aggravated
assault, criminal conspiracy and other offenses for the alleged
beating of inmate David Kipp in October.
Authorities say Kipp suffered a broken nose, badly bruised face
and a perforated ear drum.
Metz's attorney, James Wymard, said Friday that he plans an
aggressive defense and that there is much overlap between the
federal and state charges.


Philly students walk out to protest school plan

PHILADELPHIA (AP) - Dozens of Philadelphia high school students
walked out of class to oppose an initiative to overhaul failing
schools, the third such protest in a week.
Students at Martin Luther King Jr. High School left at noon on
Friday to demonstrate against the district's plan to turn it into a
charter school.
The Philadelphia Inquirer reports Audenried High School students
left class earlier this week and West Philadelphia High School
students walked out on Feb. 11.
King and Audenried will become charter schools under the plan to
improve the lowest performing buildings. West Philadelphia will be
Schools spokeswoman Shana Kemp said in a statement Friday that
while students have the right to express their opinions, the
district "will hold students accountable for their misconduct."


Coroner: Fatality reported at Pa. gun club

COPLAY, Pa. (AP) - Authorities are conducting a death
investigation at an eastern Pennsylvania gun club.
The Morning Call newspaper reports that emergency personnel
responded Friday morning to the Ranger Lake Rod and Gun Club.
Chief Deputy Lehigh County Coroner Paul Zondlo says a fatality
was reported but no other information was immediately available
because an investigator is still on the scene.
State police did not have any additional information to release.


Man charged with raping 9-year-old arrested

NEW CASTLE, Del. (AP) - New Castle city police say a man accused
of raping a 9-year-old girl has been arrested in Philadelphia.
Thirty-three-year-old Emerald A. Johnson was arrested Thursday
and charged with two counts of first-degree rape and other
offenses. He is being held in Delaware on $114,000 secured bail.
Police say the victim's grandmother told the girl to a hospital
on Dec. 22. Later, police say the girl told social workers that
Johnson had molested her before.
Police went to a warehouse where Johnson worked, but he fled.


Pa. charges Md. girl's kidnapper with assault

CUMBERLAND, Md. (AP) - Authorities in Bedford County, Pa., are
prosecuting a western Maryland man for a 30-year-old sexual assault
on a 9-year-old girl in hopes of keeping him confined.
Prosecuting Attorney Bill Higgins said Thursday he wants
61-year-old John Kroll to die behind bars.
Kroll, of Eckhart, is scheduled for release in March 2012 from
prison in Maryland, where he is serving time for kidnapping the
girl and assaulting a woman.
Kroll allegedly took the child into neighboring Pennsylvania
before molesting her with a sharpened broomstick in March 1980.
He served eight years in the 1970s - including six in a state
mental institution - for offenses that included sexually abusing a
13-year-old girl and attacking her with a knife and a tree limb.

Judge grants mistrial in Philly cop sex case

PHILADELPHIA (AP) - A Philadelphia judge has declared a mistrial
in the case of a fired police officer who allegedly masturbated in
front of a woman detained during a drug raid.
Municipal Court Judge James DeLeon granted the mistrial Thursday
during a motion hearing in the case against fired Philadelphia
police Officer Joseph Harvey.
The Philadelphia Daily News reports the judge agreed with a
defense attorney when he contended a prosecutor had overstepped
when he questioned another officer about a pair of pants allegedly
stained with Harvey's DNA. The defense says the pants had not been
entered into evidence.
Assistant District Attorney Bob Foster vowed that Harvey would
still be brought to trial.


Pa.-bound Amtrak train strikes pedestrian in NJ

SOUTH BRUNSWICK, N.J. (AP) - An Amtrak train traveling from New
York to Harrisburg, Pa., has struck a pedestrian in New Jersey.
Amtrak spokeswoman Vernae (ver-NAY') Graham says the Keystone
train hit someone about 7:15 p.m. Friday around South Brunswick.
She could not provide the victim's condition.
A spokesman for South Brunswick police did not immediately
return a call for comment.
Graham says tracks have reopened, and Amtrak initially
experienced delays of about 20 to 40 minutes.
She says there were no injuries to the train's crew or more than
250 passengers.


House passes bill

WASHINGTON (AP) - The Republican-controlled House has passed
vetoed-threatened legislation to cut $60-billion-plus from hundreds
of federal programs. It would also help coal companies, oil
refiners and farmers escape new environmental regulations.
The 235-189 vote broke largely along party lines, and marked the
most significant victory to date for the 87-member class of
freshmen Republicans elected last fall on a promise to attack the
deficit and reduce the reach of government.
The $1.2 trillion measure also provides money to keep the
government running when existing funding expires on March 4.
The measure faces a rough ride in the Senate, where majority
Democrats favor higher spending levels and are poised to defend
President Barack Obama's health care bill, environmental policies
and new efforts to overhaul regulation of the financial services


Wisconsin Democrats could stay away for weeks

MADISON, Wis. (AP) - Democratic lawmakers on the run in
Wisconsin are threatening to stay in hiding for weeks in a standoff
with majority Republicans over union rights for public employees.
The threat comes despite Gov. Scott Walker's call for Democrats
who fled the state to block a vote on an anti-union bill to "come
Among the Democrats in hiding is Sen. Jon Erpenbach. He says he
would prefer to end the stalemate soon but, as he puts it, "That
really, truly is up to the governor." He told The Associated Press
in an interview Friday at a downtown Chicago hotel that it's the
governor's responsibility "to bring the state together."
Erpenbach says it's "totally torn part."
The Capitol in Madison has been packed with thousands of
teachers, prison guards, students and others for four days. An
estimated 40,000 protesters showed up Friday.
Dane County Sheriff Dave Mahoney predicted crowds could swell to
as many as 70,000 people on Saturday and said his department
planned to add 60 deputies to the 100 who patrolled during the


Palin: Wis. unions must be 'willing to sacrifice'

MADISON, Wis. (AP) - Sarah Palin says union members protesting
Wisconsin Republicans' plan to help balance the state's budget by
cutting collective bargaining rights are taking up "the wrong
fight at the wrong time."
Palin weighed in on the debate in a Friday night posting on her
Facebook page but didn't indicate whether she would join weekend
conservative counter-protests organized by groups including the Tea
Party Patriots and Americans for Prosperity.
In the posting addressed to "union brothers and sisters,"
Palin says Wisconsin taxpayers shouldn't be asked to pay for
benefits "that are not sustainable." She says "real solidarity
means everyone being willing to sacrifice."
New Republican Gov. Scott Walker insists the concessions he's
seeking from public workers are necessary to deal with Wisconsin's
projected $3.6 billion budget shortfall and to avoid layoffs.


UPDATE: Citizens set up neighborhood patrols

CAIRO (AP) - Libyans have set up neighborhood patrols to guard
their houses in an eastern eastern city where government forces
attacked an encampment of protesters. Residents fear house-to-house
raids are next.
Libyan security forces have been waging an escalated crackdown
on the wave of anti-government protests concentrated in the
impoverished east of the country.
A human rights group estimates 84 people have died in the
crackdown. Human Rights Watch based its estimate on interviews with
hospital staff and witnesses.
Meanwhile, a Massachusetts-based security company says Internet
traffic in the North African country abruptly ended at around
midnight GMT Saturday.
Protesters are calling for the ouster of Moammar Gaddhafi, the
ruler for the last 42 years.


UPDATE: Tanks withdraw; opposition says that's not enough

MANAMA, Bahrain (AP) - A prominent opposition leader says the
withdrawal of army tanks from Bahrain's capital is not enough to
open talks with rulers in the crisis-wracked Gulf nation.
Ibrahim Sharif, head of the Waad Society, is demanding
guarantees that protesters can stage rallies without fear of being
attacked. Waad is an umbrella group of protest factions.
The pullback of tanks from the landmark Pearl Square on Saturday
comes a day after army units opened fire on marchers streaming
toward the site, which had been the symbolic center of their
uprising against Bahrain's leaders. More than 50 people were
injured in Friday's attack.
On Thursday, riot police surged into Pearl Square and destroyed
a protest encampment, killing five people.


Algeria braces for second pro-democracy rally

ALGIERS, Algeria (AP) - Pro-democracy protesters in Algeria have
vowed to hold a march even though thousands of police blocked their
path a week ago.
The new march Saturday comes amid weeks of strikes and scattered
protests in the North African country, which has promised to lift a
19-year state of emergency by month's end in a nod to the growing
mass of disgruntled citizens.
University students and nurses are among those who have held
intermittent strikes, joined by the unemployed. Even the richest
region, around the gas fields of Hassi Messaoud, was not spared as
around 500 jobless youth protested Wednesday, the daily El Watan
Rising food prices led to five days of riots in Algeria last
month that left three people dead.


NEW: Pakistani court wants ex-ruler's address

ISLAMABAD (AP) - A prosecutor says a court has told Pakistani
authorities to trace the address of former military ruler Pervez
Musharraf to arrest him in connection with the Benazir Bhutto
Musharraf left Pakistan for London after quitting the presidency
in 2008.
Bhutto, a former prime minister, died in a gun and suicide bomb
attack in late 2007. Prosecutors allege Musharraf was part of the
conspiracy to kill her because he did not do enough to protect her.
Musharraf denies any wrongdoing. He has talked of returning to
lead a new political party in Pakistan.
Prosecutor Zulfikar Ali Chaudhry said in ordering authorities to
find Musharraf's address, the court also issued a second arrest
warrant in the case Saturday. The next hearing is March 5.


Pirates hijack 4 Americans; US mulls response

NAIROBI, Kenya (AP) - The United States government says it is
assessing possible responses after Somali pirates hijacked a yacht
with four Americans on board in the Arabian Sea off the coast of
Pirates hijacked the yacht Quest on Friday, two days after a
Somali pirate was sentenced to 33 years in prison by a New York
court for the 2009 hijacking of the Maersk Alabama.
The Quest is the home of Jean and Scott Adam, a couple who has
been sailing around the world since December 2004, according to a
website the Adams keep.
Matt Goshko, a spokesman at the U.S. Embassy in Kenya, said
Saturday that all relevant U.S. agencies are monitoring the
situation and are assessing options and possible responses.


2 trains hit packed buses in Bangladesh; 13 dead

DHAKA, Bangladesh (AP) - Police and news reports say two trains
have plowed into packed buses in separate accidents at unmanned
railroad crossings in Bangladesh, killing at least 13 people.
The United News of Bangladesh news agency says eight people died
and 25 were injured Saturday when an express train hit a bus at a
crossing in Comilla district, east of Dhaka.
In the second accident, police officer Ismail Hossain said five
people died and 20 were injured Saturday in Jessore district, west
of the capital.
All the injured people were riding in the buses.


Regulators shut 4 Ga., Calif. banks

WASHINGTON (AP) - Regulators have shut down two small banks in
Georgia and two in California, boosting to 22 the number of U.S.
bank failures this year after the weak economy and mounting bad
debt brought down 157 banks in 2010.
The Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. seized the banks: Habersham
Bank, based in Clarkesville, Ga., with $387.6 million in assets;
Citizens Bank of Effingham, based in Springfield, Ga., with $214.3
million in assets; Charter Oak Bank of Napa, Calif., with $120.8
million in assets; and San Luis Trust Bank, based in San Luis
Obispo, Calif., with $332.6 million in assets.


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