Corbett, coal interests rally before EPA hearings
PITTSBURGH (AP) - Governor Tom Corbett is expected in Pittsburgh at a rally of coal industry supporters who oppose stricter Environmental Protection Agency regulations for coal-fired power plants.
Today's midday rally at a minor-league soccer stadium comes a day before the EPA holds two days of public comment hearings in the city starting tomorrow. Hundreds of people are expected to testify in Pittsburgh, as well as at hearings in Atlanta, Denver and Washington on Tuesday and Wednesday.
Business and labor officials say the regulations will drive up electricity prices and cost jobs in the coal and energy industries. That resonates in Pennsylvania, the nation's fourth-largest coal-producing state.
Environmentalists say the rules will combat climate change and benefit the economy in the long run by producing jobs relating to more renewable, efficient energy sources.
Terror threats at chemical plants underestimated
WASHINGTON (AP) - Congressional investigators say the government is underestimating the threat of a chemical attack on America's densely populated cities and has failed to inspect virtually all of the chemical facilities that it considers particularly vulnerable to terrorists.
The investigation by Republican staff on the Senate Homeland Security Committee documents inspection delays and government errors in risk assessment in a $595 million terror prevention program. A copy of the report was obtained by The Associated Press.
Half of the 4,011 high-risk facilities on the Homeland Security Department's watch list are in 10 states. They are California, Texas, Ohio, Illinois, Pennsylvania, New York, North Carolina, Florida, Michigan and New Jersey.
Committee investigators say larger metropolitan regions such as Los Angeles, Chicago, New York and Philadelphia might be more vulnerable to an attack.
PENNSYLVANIA STATE POLICE-FITNESS
US sues Pennsylvania over police fitness tests
HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) - The federal government is suing Pennsylvania over physical fitness tests given to its applicant for state trooper positions. It says the tests discriminate against women and keeps them out of entry-level positions.
The Justice Department's lawsuit was filed Tuesday in federal court in Harrisburg.
It says the use of the tests to screen and select the applicants for the entry-level positions amounts to a pattern of employment discrimination
A state police spokeswoman says the agency has not seen the 10-page lawsuit and cannot comment on it.
The lawsuit says much greater percentages of male applicants than female applicants passed the physical fitness tests going back to 2003.
The Pennsylvania State Police has 4,677 sworn members.
Man pleads no contest to burning girlfriend's son
PITTSBURGH (AP) - A 37-year-old western Pennsylvania man has pleaded no contest to helping burn his then-girlfriend's son with flammable nail polish.
Edward R. Myers, of Saxonburg, had been scheduled for trial Wednesday, but instead entered the plea Tuesday as part of a plea agreement with Butler County prosecutors.
Myers' 15-year-old son last year was ordered to juvenile detention after he was found to have set 7-year-old Daniel Podskalny on fire after Myers threw nail polish onto the boy. Podskalny suffered third-degree burns to his face and chest.
The (Tarentum) Valley News Dispatch says a judge must still approve the plea agreement, which calls for 15 lesser charges to be dismissed.
If the deal is approved, Myers faces four to 12 years in state prison when he's sentenced Aug. 26.
BACKPACK ROBBERY SLAYING
Trial ordered in botched backpack robbery slaying
PHILADELPHIA (AP) - A man has been ordered to stand trial in a south Philadelphia shooting death that authorities said stemmed from a botched backpack robbery.
A municipal judge on Tuesday held murder, robbery, theft and weapons charges against 21-year-old Tyreek McNeil for trial.
Police allege that McNeil rode up to 22-year-old Jose Gabino-Aparicio on a bicycle in the pre-dawn hours of Sept. 26 and demanded his backpack. Investigators said a struggle began and three shots were fired that struck the victim in the back.
A prosecution witness testified that MNeil told him and several other friends that he was responsible. Assistant District Attorney Gwenn Cujdik alleged that the defendant "bragged about it."
Defense attorney Francis Carmen attacked the credibility of the witness, suggesting that he was trying to deflect suspicion from himself.
New trial denied in Pa. slaying, dismemberment
(Information in the following story is from: The (Easton, Pa.) Express-Times, http://www.lehighvalleylive.com )
ALLENTOWN, Pa. (AP) - A state appellate court has denied a new trial to an eastern Pennsylvania man serving a life prison term in the murder and dismemberment of his girlfriend three years ago.
Forty-eight-year-old William Ward of Bethlehem pleaded guilty but mentally ill to first-degree murder in Lehigh County in the June 2011 stabbing death of 29-year-old Trisha Sadler.
Authorities said her remains were found in plastic bags in the home. Ward was sentenced to life in prison without possibility of parole.
After sentencing, Ward appealed, arguing that his attorney had convinced him to plead guilty but he didn't understand the plea due to his mental illness.
A county court rejected his arguments last fall. The (Easton) Express-Times reports that a Superior Court panel on Tuesday upheld that decision.
MOBILE HOME EXPLOSION
Mobile home burns as propane tanks explode, 1 hurt
NATRONA HEIGHTS, Pa. (AP) - A woman was being treated for burns on 25 percent of her body when her mobile home was destroyed by fire after propane tanks exploded at the western Pennsylvania structure.
Emergency officials in Harrison Township didn't immediately release the name of the woman whose home went up in flames after 1:30 a.m. Wednesday.
The woman was the only one in the trailer about 25 miles northeast of Pittsburgh, and was being treated at UPMC Mercy Hospital in Pittsburgh, which has a burn unit.
Investigators say ammunition in two shotguns in the home also went off because of the fire.
It wasn't immediately clear what caused the propane tanks to explode.
The woman inside the mobile home was able to escape through a window.
Pa. man seeks new trial in fatal 2011 crash
BELLEFONTE, Pa. (AP) - A central Pennsylvania man convicted of vehicular homicide and driving under the influence in a crash that killed one of his friends and critically injured two others is seeking a new trial.
Thirty-one-year-old Matthew Shirk was sentenced to nine to 18 years in state prison in the crash that killed 24-year-old Kelly Rider four days before Christmas in 2011.
The Centre Daily Times reports that defense attorney Brian Manchester argued Tuesday in Centre County Court that references to an emergency room doctor's opinion should not have been allowed during the May trial.
District Attorney Stacy Parks Miller argued that case law cited by the defense in the appeal supported the prosecution's position, and a defense witness also built on his interpretations of some of the same data.
Man drowns after canoe capsizes in NW Pa. creek
GIRARD, Pa. (AP) - Authorities say a canoe capsized on a northwestern Pennsylvania creek after it hit a fallen tree, killing one of the two occupants.
State police in Erie County said the two men had traveled about 10 miles down Elk Creek on Monday night when they ran into trouble entering a tunnel under railroad tracks in Girard.
Police said the canoe hit a fallen tree near the entrance of the tube and overturned, trapping 33-year-old Matthew Kaliszewski between the craft and the tree.
Officials said the high water and swift current prevented his companion from helping him. The other man reached shore and walked about a mile to get help.
Coroner Lyell Cook pronounced Kaliszewski dead at the scene at about 2 a.m. Tuesday and ruled his death an accidental drowning.
STUDENT ON ROOF
Police investigate student found on dormitory roof
PITTSBURGH (AP) - Pittsburgh police are trying to figure out how a 23-year-old student wound up injured on the roof of a Carnegie Mellon University dormitory.
Police spokeswoman Sonya Toler says the woman, whose name isn't being released, was first seen on a lower roof of Webster Hall about 3 a.m. Tuesday. The dormitory has several levels and police say it appears the woman fell onto the roof because she was hospitalized with two broken ankles and a back injury.
The student who saw the woman didn't report it immediately, but did when he again saw the woman lying in the same spot more than five hours later.
Police believe the woman may have suffered some sort of medical problem before she fell. But they're investigating to make sure she didn't jump or wasn't pushed before falling.
WITNESS PHOTO-INTIMIDATION CHARGE
Trial ordered for Pa. man accused of witness photo
(Information in the following story is from: The (Easton, Pa.) Express-Times, http://www.lehighvalleylive.com )
ALLENTOWN, Pa. (AP) - An eastern Pennsylvania man accused of having taken a cellphone photo of a teenager testifying in a homicide case has been ordered to stand trial on a witness intimidation charge.
The (Easton) Express-Times reports that a Lehigh County judge on Tuesday upheld charges against 21-year-old Jaqueze Campbell of Allentown.
Prosecutors allege that he was sitting in a courtroom in May during testimony in a shooting death that authorities allege stemmed from a marijuana robbery.
A sheriff's deputy testified that Campbell raised his cellphone, took a picture of a teenager testifying, and posted it on Facebook. A detective testified that he also saw Campbell taking pictures outside before the hearing.
Campbell remains in the county prison on $52,000 bail. His defense attorney didn't immediately return a call seeking comment.
INTERMEDIATE UNIT DIRECTOR-CHARGES
Former education exec set for federal theft plea
PITTSBURGH (AP) - The former executive director of a western Pennsylvania regional education service agency has been scheduled to plead guilty to federal charges that she used her work credit card to buy things for herself.
Federal prosecutors in Pittsburgh contend 56-year-old Cecelia Yauger, of Grove City, made $73,000 in questionable purchases, including at restaurants, pharmacies, department stores and retail outlets.
Yauger resigned in April 2013 from the Midwestern Intermediate Unit IV, which serves several school districts.
Yauger's attorney has previously said she'll be able to show that some of the purchases were related to work. He did not immediately return a call for comment Wednesday, hours before Yauger was scheduled to change her not guilty plea before Chief U.S. District Judge Joy Flowers Conti.
Yauger is charged with stealing from a program receiving federal funds.
Owner of Penguins practice rink faces tax charges
PITTSBURGH (AP) - The owner of a practice rink used by the Pittsburgh Penguins has been indicted on federal charges that he dodged paying more than $1 million in payroll taxes by moving the money through a shell company.
Defense attorney Robert Barnes says 59-year-old Steven Lynch, of Pittsburgh, denies the "totally unfounded" charges.
Lynch owns the IceoPlex at Southpointe, a sports bar, and other businesses connected with the development about 15 miles south of Pittsburgh. Federal prosecutors contend Lynch ordered underlings not to pay the government federal income, Social Security, and Medicare taxes deducted from worker paychecks from 2008 to 2011.
Instead, the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reports Lynch allegedly ran the money through a shell company with no assets so the IRS could seize only a small fraction of the debt from the shell's bank accounts.
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