Pittsburgh Police Beef Up Presence On Streets For City’s Light Up Night

A map of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania with its nei...

A map of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania with its neighborhoods labeled. For use primarily in the list of Pittsburgh neighborhoods. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A wave of gun violence around the city and the possibility of unrest here stemming from events in Ferguson, Mo., have Pittsburgh police ramping up staffing and training in time for Light Up Night on Friday, when hundreds of thousands of people will converge on Downtown.

Pittsburgh police acting Chief Cameron McLay said Wednesday he plans to put patrol officers on 12-hour shifts to handle whatever arises in the next two weeks. He noted the recent escalation in deadly shootings in city neighborhoods and the impending announcement of whether a police officer will be indicted in the shooting death of an unarmed black man in Missouri.

“Quite frankly, it’s an opportunity to get my officers out and more engaged with the public,” McLay said at a news conference at police headquarters in the North Side. “To me, there are no wasted resources when I’m calling extra bodies in early. If everything is going well, it’s a great chance for my officers to celebrate with the community.”

Brandi Fisher, president of the Alliance for Police Accountability, said she spoke with McLay by phone Wednesday about the potential for a local response to a grand jury decision on whether to indict Darren Wilson, a white police officer, in the fatal shooting of Michael Brown on Aug. 9 in Ferguson.

Read more: http://triblive.com/news/allegheny/7191470-74/police-mclay-officers#ixzz3JdF4ZS6G
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DA Announces Chester County’s Biggest Ever Drug Bust

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Chester County

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Chester County (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

WEST CHESTER, PA — Law enforcement officials gathered at the Chester County District Attorney’s Office Wednesday to announce dozens ofarrests in what officials called the largest drug ring prosecution in the county’s history.

Forty-four people were arrested and 12 more are wanted on outstanding warrants in what authorities dubbed “Operation Telaraña,” a year-long multi-agency probe targeting a major cocaine trafficking network with ties to a dangerous Mexican drug cartel.

Chester County District Attorney Tom Hogan led a press conference Wednesday morning that included members of local police departments, state police, a regional drug enforcement task force, and federal agentsfrom the Drug Enforcement Administration.

Salvadore Lemus, 65, was arrested on May 1 after a lengthy investigation identified him as the leader of a major cocaine trafficking network with ties to a violent Mexican drug cartel, according to police. Authorities said his 23-year-old son, Francisco Lemus, acted as Lemus’ lieutenant. A nephew, Mario Hernandez Garcia, was also arrested.

Read more: http://www.dailylocal.com/general-news/20140528/photo-gallery-da-announces-countys-biggest-ever-drug-bust

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Contractor Gets $1.6M, Apology From Montgomery County DA’s Office

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Montgomery County

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Montgomery County (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Montgomery County District Attorney’s Office has agreed to pay $1.65 million to settle claims that District Attorney Risa Vetri Ferman brought unfounded theft charges against a Radnor building contractor at the behest of a church that counts prominent county officials among its members.

As part of the agreement, confirmed by the contractor’s lawyers Tuesday, Ferman apologized to Walter Logan, a man whose alleged crimes she once described as “particularly despicable” and “really very low.”

Those words, delivered to a TV news crew, came hours after her office charged Logan in 2009 with bilking hundreds of thousands of dollars from Salem Baptist Church of Jenkintown after a contract dispute.

In a statement to Logan as part of their agreement, and released Tuesday by his attorneys, Ferman struck a different tone.

Read more at http://www.philly.com/philly/news/breaking/20140426_Contractor_gets__1_6M__apology_from_Montco_DA_s_office.html#QRERrQv5H04R55Bk.99

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Birdsboro Men Among 6 Indicted On Sex Charges With Limerick Boy (with mugshots)

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Montgomery County

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Montgomery County (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

NORRISTOWN, PA — Calling it a “significant” crackdown against child exploitation, authorities have charged six men, including two from Birdsboro and another from Upper Providence, with having inappropriate contact with a teenage boy from Limerick.

Mark David “Wilco” Wilczopolski, 22, of the 500 block of East Second Street, Birdsboro, was indicted by federal authorities on Thursday for allegedly using the Internet to entice a teenage boy to engage in sexual conduct and receiving and possessing child pornography, according to U.S. Attorney Zane David Memeger.

Montgomery County authorities previously charged Wilczopolski with unlawful contact or communications with a minor and related offenses in connection with incidents that occurred between May and October 2013 with the 14-year-old Limerick boy, according to court documents. Wilczopolski is already awaiting trial on those charges in county court.

The federal indictment against Wilczopolski was announced by Memeger at a joint news conference Friday with county District Attorney Risa Vetri Ferman, Limerick Police Chief William Albany and other federal officials. Wilczopolski was scheduled to be arraigned in federal court Friday afternoon.

Read more: http://www.pottsmerc.com/general-news/20140425/birdsboro-men-among-6-indicted-on-sex-charges-with-limerick-boy-with-mugshots

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State Revives Rape Case Against Ex-Montogomery County GOP Chairman

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Montgomery County

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Montgomery County (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

State prosecutors have filed rape charges against former Montgomery County Republican Party chairman Robert Kerns, reviving a case that collapsed when county investigators misread lab test results from the woman who accused him of assaulting her last fall.

Kerns was expected to surrender Friday, according to the office of Attorney General Kathleen Kane.

The announcement comes about six weeks after Montgomery County District Attorney Risa Vetri Ferman abruptly dropped all 19 charges against Kerns, including felony counts of raping an unconscious victim and raping a substantially impaired person.

Through his lawyer, Kerns, 66, of North Wales, had previously denied any wrongdoing. The lawyer, Brian McMonagle, could not immediately be reached for comment Friday morning.

Read more at http://www.philly.com/philly/news/20140425_State_revives_rape_case_against_ex-Montco_GOP_chairman.html#HdB6fTEkDxXXBVvt.99

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Second Suspect Arrested In Pottstown Murder

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Montgomery County

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Montgomery County (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

POTTSTOWN, PA — The second suspect in the Dec. 27 murder of a Pottstown man was arrested in Philadelphia after eluding police for almost two weeks.

Daquan Hamilton, 20, of Philadelphia, was arrested Wednesday in a house in the 5000 block of North 21st Street in Philadelphia, according to a press release from Montgomery County District Attorney Risa Vetri Ferman.

Hamilton was charged with first-, second-, and third-degree murder in the death of 22-year-old George Hashimbey on Dec. 27, 2013. Khaleef Jones, 21, of Philadelphia was charged with first and second-degree murder in connection with the murder.

Hamilton and Jones allegedly forced their way into a fifth-floor apartment at King Street Commons Apartments, then the two suspects shot two of the three men in the apartment, according to the press release.

Read more: http://www.pottsmerc.com/general-news/20140108/second-suspect-arrested-in-pottstown-murder

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22-Year-Old Dead After Overnight Shooting In Pottstown

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Montgomery County

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Montgomery County (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

UPDATED 9:47 a.m.) POTTSTOWN, PA — After an overnight shooting in the borough, one person is dead and one person is in the hospital.

Police responded to the 5th floor of the King Street Commons apartment building at 262 King St. around 12:36 a.m. Friday.

According to the Montgomery County District Attorney, the 22-year-old victim was pronounced dead at the scene.

The body of the victim was carried out of the building by officials from the Montgomery County Coroner’s office at 9:15 Friday morning.

Read more: http://www.pottsmerc.com/general-news/20131227/video-22-year-old-dead-after-overnight-shooting-in-pottstown

Judge Expunges Matthews’ Criminal Record; Grand Jury Documents Retained

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Montgomery County

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Montgomery County (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

MONTGOMERY COUNTY COURTHOUSE — The criminal record of the former chairman of the Montgomery County Board of Commissioners was expunged Friday, with the exception of materials contained in a grand jury report that led to his arrest more than a year ago.

Court of Common Pleas Senior Judge William T. Nicholas granted the petition to expunge the misdemeanor charge of false swearing to a grand jury against James Matthews, who was arrested and resigned as board chairman in December 2011.

But the judge’s order included an amendment that information contained in the grand jury transcripts and exhibits leveled against Matthews — following an investigation into the Montgomery County commissioners two years ago — would not be expunged.

Read more: http://www.timesherald.com/government-and-politics/20131025/judge-expunges-matthews-criminal-record-grand-jury-documents-retained/1

Coatesville Schools Don’t Provide Requested Information

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Chester County

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Chester County (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The clock expired Thursday for the Coatesville Area School District to respond to three Right-to-Know requests submitted last month by the Daily Local News, a sister paper of The Times Herald.

The newspaper made the requests in response to the abrupt departures of former Superintendent Richard Como and former Director of Athletics and Activities Jim Donato.

Those requests, because the district hadn’t replied within 30 days of when it first said it needed more time to check on the legality of releasing the information, were deemed denied Thursday.

On Sept. 10, school board solicitor and attorney James Ellison advised the Daily Local the district needed an additional 30 calendar days beyond the usual five business days public entities have to respond to the newspaper’s Right to Know request.

Read more: http://www.timesherald.com/social-affairs/20131014/coatesville-schools-dont-provide-requested-information

3 Reading Residents Sold Heroin On Orange Street, Police Say

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Berks County

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Berks County (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Three Reading residents were arrested Friday after an undercover investigation revealed they sold heroin in the 400 block of Orange Street, according to Berks County detectives.

Detectives with the district attorney’s drug task force arrested Jose Antonio Perez-Guevarez, 32; Pablo Santiago-Santiago, 54; and Melinda Marrero, 39, all of the 400 block of Orange Street.

They were charged with possession of heroin with the intent to deliver and other related charges. If convicted, the three suspects face at least two years for dealing illegal drugs in a school zone.

Read more: http://readingeagle.com/article.aspx?id=516231

6 Charged In Reading-Based Methamphetamine Ring

English: Crystal methamphetamine

English: Crystal methamphetamine (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

NORRISTOWN, PA – Six men have been charged as part of a Reading-based drug ring that sold bulk amounts of crystal methamphetamine in Berks and Montgomery counties as it tried to stir up local demand for the drug, officials announced today.

Operation Breaking Bad, as it was named by law enforcement, was a 10-month multi-agency investigation that broke up the high-level meth and cocaine trafficking ring, Berks District Attorney John T. Adams and Montgomery District Attorney Risa Vetri Ferman said during a press conference here.

The six men charged were all Mexican nationals living in the U.S. illegally, five of whom were deported, then returned illegally, Adams said.

They were arraigned today and are in Montgomery County Prison awaiting further court action.

Read more: http://readingeagle.com/article.aspx?id=515964

DA: No Bail For Aiello In Wilkes-Barre Homicide Case

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Luzerne County

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Luzerne County (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

WILKES-BARRE — The city man accused of shooting his wife to death last week is not eligible for bail, Luzerne County District Attorney Stefanie J. Salavantis said this morning.

Vito J. Aiello, 48, who is recovering from what police say is a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the face, was arraigned in his hospital bed Monday afternoon at Geisinger Wyoming Valley Medical Center in PlainsTownship.  He was arraigned via teleconference on an open count of criminal homicide in the Thursday night slaying of Jane Aiello, 47.

Read more: http://www.timesleader.com/news//874428/DA:-No-bail-for-Aiello-in-homicide-case

Lawyer Alleges Two Harassed In Coatesville

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Chester County

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Chester County (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Since exposing racist and sexist texts between the former Coatesville Area School District superintendent and former high school athletic director, two district employees have been subjected to continuing harassment from administrators, including the acting superintendent, a lawyer for the two has alleged.

In an e-mail to the school board Sunday, Sam Stretton also called on acting superintendent Angelo Romaniello to step down.

In response, school board president Neil Campbell issued a statement on behalf of the district, calling Stretton’s claim of harassment “ridiculous.” The district was simply following policy regarding litigation it believed was possibly forthcoming on behalf of the two employees, technology director Abdallah Hawa and Teresa Powell, the acting assistant superintendent, Campbell said.

In a brief phone call Sunday, Romaniello said he “extremely, vehemently disagrees” with Stretton’s allegations. He would not comment further.

Read more at http://www.philly.com/philly/education/20130930_In_Coatesville_schools_scandal__harassment_alleged.html#RruM1UXmkte57k0f.99

Votes Of 2 Coatesville Area School District Board Members Remain Unknown After Stormy Meeting

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Chester County

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Chester County (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

More than 24 hours after the Coatesville Area School Board voted to accept the retirement of its superintendent and the resignation of its athletic and activities director, the votes of two of its board members are still unknown.

The school board on Tuesday night hastily voted 6-to-1 to accept the retirement of former CASD superintendent Richard Como and resignation of former high school Athletic and Activities Director Jim Donato, after both men were found exchanging racially-charged text messages about students and staff using district-issued phones.

School board members Joe Dunn, James Fox, Bill Sweigart, Paul Johnson, Laurie Knecht, and school board President Neil Campbell voted to approve all items on the agenda. Dr. Tanya Thames Taylor was the lone board member who voted against.

According to Campbell, board member Diane Brownfield and board Vice President Rick Ritter were unable to attend the meeting. He said Brownfield recently broke her leg, while Ritter was away in Seattle on business. He said that both members were conferenced into the three-hour meeting.

Read more: http://www.dailylocal.com/social-affairs/20130926/votes-of-2-casd-board-members-remain-unknown-after-stormy-meeting

Coatsville Area School District In Crisis After Racially-Charged Rext Messages Surface

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Chester County

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Chester County (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The abrupt departure of the Coatesville Area School District superintendent and another senior administrator came two weeks after numerous exchanges of inappropriate and racially-charged text messages were discovered on their district-issued cell phones, and multiple sources have indicated that school board officials were not only aware of the exchanges, but were prepared to allow the pair to remain in their positions until the conduct prompted a criminal investigation, the Daily Local News has learned.

The Coatesville Area School Board is expected to formally vote to approve the resignations of former Superintendent Richard Como and former Director of Athletics and Activities Jim Donato at Tuesday’s public meeting.  Como announced his “retirement” through a letter posted on the district’s website on August 29. Reports of Donato’s resignation surfaced several days later.  Both came unexpectedly during the first week of the school year.

Text messages exchanged from school-issued cell phone numbers between Como and Donato contained repeated use of a commonly known derogatory phrase referring to African American or black individuals.  In one instance, the term was used 14 times in one conversation.

The school district has not commented on the resignations, but two sources with knowledge of the situation said the departures were the direct result of discoveries found on Donato’s cell phone. More disturbingly, the sources said the school board was made aware of the text messages and was prepared to allow Como and Donato to remain in their positions until the transcripts were leaked to the Chester County District Attorney’s Office, prompting a criminal investigation.

Read more: http://www.timesherald.com/social-affairs/20130923/coatsville-area-school-district-in-crisis-after-racially-charged-text-messages-surface

Superintendent, Athletic Director Out In Coatesville

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Chester County

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Chester County (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Coatesville school board officials Tuesday announced that the district’s superintendent and a senior athletic director had resigned – and that they could not comment further because of an ongoing investigation by the Chester County District Attorney’s Office.

In a brief statement, board officials said Richard Como, the superintendent, and Jim Donato, Coatesville Area Senior High School director of athletics and activities, had submitted letters of resignation.  The board is to vote on those letters Sept. 24.

Como initially announced his retirement two weeks ago in a post on the district website.

Read more at http://www.philly.com/philly/education/20130911_Superintendent__athletic_director_out_in_Coatesville.html#ViyjYV7yX25EU21A.99

Pottstown Merchant’s Fate For Selling K2 Hinges On High Court Ruling

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Montgomery County

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Montgomery County (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

NORRISTOWN — The severity of a Pottstown merchant’s punishment for distributing synthetic marijuana from his store will hinge on an interpretation of a recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling regarding mandatory sentences.

Rafie L. Ali, 35, who previously lived in an apartment above the Achi Store he operated at 315 E. High Street, saw his sentencing hearing postponed in Montgomery County Court on Thursday so prosecutors and defense lawyers in the case could weigh the ramifications of the high court ruling, handed down a few days after Ali’s June conviction, which affects how prosecutors seek mandatory prison terms for certain crimes.

First Assistant District Attorney Kevin R. Steele and co-prosecutor Nicholas Reifsnyder are seeking mandatory prison terms against Ali, between 10 and 15 years, based on state laws that allow mandatory terms for drug sales carried out in school zones or with a firearm.

“He was a drug dealer masquerading as a businessman and that made him all the more dangerous,” Steele and Reifsnyder argued in a sentencing memorandum. “By keeping a firearm in close proximity to the potentially fatal drugs he was dealing, defendant contributed to the culture of violence that inevitably surrounds drug use and drug dealing.”

Read more: http://www.pottsmerc.com/article/20130906/NEWS01/130909683/pottstown-merchant-s-fate-for-selling-k2-hinges-on-high-court-ruling#full_story

DA Says Mother Suffocated Newborn Baby Found In Starters Pub Toilet

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Northampton C...

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Northampton County (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The 26-year-old Allentown woman kept her pregnancy secret from everyone, authorities now believe.

So secret that when Amanda C. Hein began complaining about back pain while sitting in a booth at Starters Pub in Lower Saucon Township, the three men she was with had no idea she was about to give birth, Northampton County District Attorney John Morganelli said Monday.

But that night of Aug. 18, Hein delivered a son after leaving the table — laboring in a bathroom stall of the popular sports bar on Route 378 while she ignored her friends’ text messages as they worried why she was gone for so long.

Then she took that “alive and viable” boy of 33 to 36 weeks’ gestation and killed him, putting him in a plastic bag and leaving him in the tank of the toilet, Morganelli said in announcing homicide charges for a death he was unable to explain.

Read more: http://www.mcall.com/news/breaking/mc-starters-pub-baby-found-in-toilet-homicide-20130826,0,1487535.story#ixzz2dBbqGJEw

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Thousands Of Doses Of Potential Synthetic Drugs Seized From Mechanicsburg Shop

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Cumberland County

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Cumberland County (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

More than a dozen people walked past the parked police cars Friday morning up to the door of the Magical Incense Shop that was guarded by police officers with a simple question:

“When’s the shop open?”

One of the men even tried to reach past Mechanicsburg Police Chief David Spotts to get to the door, Spotts said.

The downtown Mechanicsburg shop didn’t open Friday.  And Cumberland County District Attorney David Freed wants to keep the shop — which he alleges has been selling synthetic designer drugs for years — closed permanently.  Freed closed the store under a temporary injunction signed by Cumberland County Judge Albert Masland.  A hearing on the injunction will be held Tuesday, Freed said.

Read more: http://www.pennlive.com/midstate/index.ssf/2013/08/mechanicsburg_head_shop_shut_d_1.html#incart_m-rpt-2

Police Find Man Dead Of Gunshot Wound In Hampden Township

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Cumberland County

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Cumberland County (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

An unidentified adult male was found dead in the backyard of a home in the 5400 block of Barbara Drive in Hampden Township.

The man was killed by a single gunshot, Cumberland County District Attorney David Freed said.

“It initially appears to be an accident or suicide,” Freed said. “It’s too soon to be sure.”

The call came in at 6:14 p.m. Sunday and police found the victim lying in the backyard of the house, Freed said.

Read more: http://www.pennlive.com/midstate/index.ssf/2013/07/police_find_man_dead_of_gunsho.html#incart_m-rpt-2