Plum Seniors Move On After Tumultuous Year

Rain clouds and an ongoing criminal investigation could not dampen the spirits of 309 seniors who graduated from Plum High School on Friday night.

“It’s over,” senior class president Michael Bell said to a gymnasium audience brimming with nervous excitement. “We did it.”

The ceremony marked the end of a school year in which three teachers were charged criminally, two with sex crimes involving students, and other staff members were stuck under the cloud of a grand jury investigation into whether they knew about inappropriate relationships and did nothing.

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Grand Jury Investigating Plum Sex Scandal Involving Possibly 8 Students

An Allegheny County grand jury is investigating whether teachers at Plum High School abused as many as eight female students over as many as eight years and that school officials kept it quiet, according to a sealed search warrant executed Tuesday.

The warrant — signed Monday by Common Pleas Judge Jill E. Rangos, who supervises the grand jury — sought records that could show whether district officials knew about inappropriate contact between staff and students.

The warrant indicates that a grand jury is investigating whether criminal charges should be filed against school officials for failing to report known sexual abuse.

Among the violations under consideration are tampering with records, fabricating evidence, obstructing the administration of law, failure to report abuse and intimidation, retaliation or obstruction in a child abuse case, according to the warrant.

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Witnesses Testify At Richard Como’s Preliminary Hearing

WEST CHESTER, PA – The criminal case against former Coatesville Area School District Superintendent Richard Como opened a new chapter Friday in a lengthy preliminary hearing at the Chester County Justice Center.

The former superintendent, who abruptly retired at the start of the 2013 school year amid the discovery of racist and sexist text message exchanges with the district’s athletic director, faces a slew of felony theft charges resulting from a nearly yearlong grand jury investigation that concluded late last year.

On Friday prosecutors from the Chester County District Attorney’s Office called several witnesses in an effort to put forward enough evidence to send the case to trial.

Como is accused of defrauding the district out of thousands of dollars during his time as superintendent. While a large portion of the alleged thefts revolve around the purchase of championship football rings, many of the charges stem from a series of alleged smaller thefts that plagued the district for years.

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Coatesville School Board President Resigns

Caln Township, PA – Amid speculation that the Chester County District Attorney’s grand jury investigation of two former district administrators is nearing completion, Coatesville Area School Board President Neil Campbell resigned from his post Tuesday.

“This decision was difficult as I enjoyed representing the district as well as members of the community,” Campbell said in his statement addressed to the school board dated Nov. 25. “I truly appreciate those that elected me to serve and it was an honor.”

Campbell’s resignation was announced before the school board meeting commenced. His resignation was effective immediately, according to school district officials.

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Mon Valley Video Gambling Ring Arrests Include McKeesport Councilman, Forward Police Chief, Ex-Cops

Map of Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, United ...

Map of Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, United States with township and municipal boundaries (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A McKeesport city councilman, a Frank Sinatra impersonator, the Forward police chief and two other former McKeesport police officers were charged this morning with being part of a large-scale video gambling ring operating in the Monongahela Valley.

Pennsylvania State Police charged 16 people with a variety of gambling offenses after a months-long grand jury investigation that involved wiretaps and a Dec. 11 raid that confiscated 335 video gambling machines from about 70 different locations throughout the Mon Valley.

All of the defendants were arraigned this morning before Forest Hills District Judge Thomas Caulfield and were released on non-monetary bond.  They face preliminary hearings Sept. 12.

Among them were Forward police Chief Mark Holtzman, a onetime McKeesport deputy chief, and the suspected ringleader of the alleged video gambling ring, Ronald “Porky” Melocchi, of West Newton.

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Pottstown Codes Deptartment Gets Reprimanded By State

Location of Pottstown in Montgomery County

Location of Pottstown in Montgomery County (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Editor’s note:  This made the Mercury’s 2012 Top Stories list…always good to keep the shenanigans in Pottstown on our minds!  Be vigilant!

POTTSTOWN, PA — The state agency which oversees code and inspection functions in Pennsylvania has issued a “formal warning” to the Pottstown Codes office for a number of violations, including allowing inspections to be conducted by personnel not certified to perform those inspections.

In a letter issued Oct. 2, the Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry informed the codes office manager, Maria E. Bleile, of the results of its complaint investigation.

The letter outlines eight complaints regarding inspections at both commercial and residential properties, ranging from Pottstown Memorial Hospital, to the Salvation Army to four residential properties.

Issues ranged from inspectors conducting “plan reviews” and inspections without the proper certification; to no records of reviews or certain inspections being conducted at all; to missing dates in inspection reports.

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Pottstown Council Poised To OK $33K Codes Office Review

Location of Pottstown in Montgomery County

Location of Pottstown in Montgomery County (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Editor’s note:  This is LONG overdue!  I guess we’re spending $33,000 to appear impartial?  In any event this problem needs to be fixed so if this is what it takes…I suppose it’s a small price to pay.

POTTSTOWN, PA — Borough council is set to vote Monday on a proposal to pay a consultant as much as $33,500 to undertake a review of the Codes Department and its operations.

The review comes in the wake of a Mercury report Sept. 23 that the same office is the target of an investigation by a Montgomery County grand jury.

No mention of the investigation was made during Wednesday’s council work session.

Interim Borough Manager Mark Flanders, who is also the borough’s police chief, told council the idea had been floated previously and “I’d like to see it get moving.”

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