The Tri-County Report for April, 18th 2014


Tri-County Report for April, 18th 2014

 A West Middlesex woman is facing multiple theft charges for allegedly using someone else’s ATM card.  The New Castle News reports 29 year old  Mary Lou Boots, was charged by Pulaski Township police with six counts of theft and six of access device fraud. The amount of money involved is nearly $1,100. A preliminary hearing is set for May 15th.

University of Pittsburgh Medical Center officials now say a data breach could have compromised the information of up to 27-thousand employees.  At least 788 were tax fraud victims after UPMC had initially estimated just over 300 might be victimized.  A spokeswoman said patient data is safe and added they are working with the IRS, Secret Service and more to track down the breach.  Employees are being encouraged to enroll in identity theft protection programs being paid for by UPMC.

Butler County is going to display the national motto, "In God We Trust," on its meeting room wall.  Commissioners voted earlier this week in favor of the display, even though some fear a court challenge by the ACLU.  Supporters say a challenge is unlikely because courts have previously ruled the motto does not promote one religious group over another.

School directors in the Albert Gallatin Area School District are moving towards arming their security guards.  The board gave unanimous approval Wednesday for a measure that would allow the guards to carry a firearm when stationed at the front entrance of the high school. Superintendent Carl Bezjak said the vote is "a sign of the times."

The student considered the most badly wounded in last week's mass stabbing at Franklin Regional High School continues to improve.  Seventeen-year-old Jared Boger is now in fair condition after four surgeries at UPMC Presbyterian.  The knife missed his heart by just a few millimeters, and doctors say he has more surgeries scheduled over the coming days.  Two students are still in critical condition in the intensive care unit of Forbes Regional Hospital and a third is in fair condition there.

The 2002 rape of an 18-year-old college student is sending 47-year-old Ralph Skundrich to prison for between 75 and 150 years.  He was convicted of sexually assaulting the woman at her Shadyside apartment nearly a dozen years ago, and has a history of similar crimes.  Judge David Cashman told Skundrich at his sentencing in Pittsburgh yesterday that he is incapable of being rehabilitated and his days of torturing women have ended.  He is awaiting trial for sexual battery in Florida and two other charges in Westmoreland County.

The state Supreme Court has refused to hear the latest appeal from a New Jersey man convicted of killing his father and stepmother in Butler County.  43 year old Colin Abbot is currently serving a 35 to 80 year sentence for killing Kenneth and Celeste Abbott in the summer of 2011. Investigators reportedly found the couple's remains scattered across their 25-acre estate in Brady Township. Abbott pleaded no contest to two counts of third-degree murder in 2013 and was sentenced, but then tried to back out of the deal and seek a trial. He appealed to a Butler County judge and the state Superior Court. He was unsuccessful in both attempts.

A women's legal organization claims that nine universities in the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education have repeatedly failed to provide equal athletic opportunities for female students. The Title IX discrimination complaints by the Women's Law Project were submitted Wednesday to the U.S. Department of Education.

Five people will serve five years of probation after pleading guilty yesterday to their roles in an alleged Mon Valley gambling operation.  In all, 16 people are facing charges including Forward Township Police Chief Mark Holtzman, who prosecutors allege ran a coffee shop that had gambling taking place.  Accused ringleader Ronald "Porky" Melocchi and McKeesport Councilman Dan Carr were both due in court to enter pleas yesterday, but were granted a two-month continuance.

Four people, including three teenagers, are dead after a head-on crash in Armstrong County.  Investigators think 19-year-old Brandon Sulava was speeding on Route 156 in South Bend Township Wednesday night when he lost control of his vehicle and slid sideways into a car that was traveling in the other direction.  Sulava and two of his passengers, 18-year-old Brieyonah Painter and 15-year-old Brandon Sauers, were killed.  The driver of the other vehicle, Crystal Kelley was also killed.  Three passengers in Kelley's car are in critical condition.