PA environmentalists arrested over XL oil pipeline
PHILADELPHIA (AP) - Police in Philadelphia are starting to arrest a group of activists staging a protest over the Keystone XL oil pipeline.
About 40 environmentalists Monday have risked arrest by blocking an entrance to the William J. Green Building, near Independence Mall.
Approximately 100 others are on hand to support the Earth Quaker Action Team protest.
The demonstrators say the planned 1,100-mile pipeline from Canada to Texas poses serious environmental hazards.
President Barack Obama expects to make a decision on the project in the coming weeks.
Pipeline supporters, including lawmakers from both parties and many business and labor groups, say the project would create jobs and reduce the need for oil imports.
Opponents say the pipeline would carry "dirty oil" that contributes to global warming.
Pa. man pleads guilty in child's hit-run death
WILKES-BARRE, Pa. (AP) - A northeastern Pennsylvania man has admitted to a hit-and-run car crash that killed a 5-year-old boy.
Twenty-three-year-old Thomas Letteer Jr. of Plains Township pleaded guilty Monday in Luzerne County Court to fleeing the scene of a fatal accident.
Authorities said Letteer left the scene after his car struck Kevin Miller as the boy crossed a street in Wilkes-Barre with his parents and brothers after leaving a Christmas party on Dec. 21, 2012.
The plea comes one week before the case was scheduled to go to trial.
The judge said Letteer could be sentenced to a maximum 10 years in state prison. He is set to be sentenced May 1.
Three hopefuls file for Pa. gubernatorial ballot
HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) - The first gubernatorial candidates to file petitions to get on the May 20 primary ballot are Democrats John Hanger and Jack Wagner and Republican Bob Guzzardi.
Major-party candidates who are seeking to compete for every office from state lawmaker to governor must turn in their nomination petitions by the end of Tuesday.
Monday's filings are from Wagner, a former state auditor general, Hanger, a former state environmental protection secretary, and Guzzardi, a conservative activist and suburban Philadelphia businessman.
Guzzardi hopes to challenge Gov. Tom Corbett, while up to seven Democrats are expected to seek the party's gubernatorial nomination.
Gubernatorial candidates must collect valid signatures from at least 2,000 voters, including 100 in each of 10 counties. Thirty people also have filed to run for Congress, including 15 incumbents.
No verdict in Philly priest-abuse case
PHILADELPHIA (AP) - A Philadelphia jury is set to return Tuesday for a fourth day of deliberations in a priest's sexual-assault trial.
The Rev. Andrew McCormick is accused of molesting a 10-year-old altar boy in a rectory bedroom in 1997.
The jury deliberated for the day Monday without reaching a verdict on the five counts.
The 57-year-old McCormick is the latest in a string of Philadelphia priests charged with child sexual assault. City prosecutors have been investigating the Roman Catholic church's handling of abuse complaints since 2002.
McCormick denies molesting anyone during his 30-year church career. He concedes that he was twice reprimanded by the archdiocese for his behavior around children.
The jury has been deliberating since Thursday afternoon.
The case involves St. John Cantius (KAN'-shush) parish, a Polish congregation in northeast Philadelphia.
Doc: Pa. trooper's pregnant wife died of gunshot
NORRISTOWN, Pa. (AP) - The Montgomery County coroner has released the results of an autopsy on the pregnant wife of a Pennsylvania state trooper.
Dr. Walter Hoffman said Monday that 34-year-old Jo Anna Miller died of a single gunshot wound to the head inside her East Norriton home about 2:30 p.m. Friday. She was between 22 and 23 weeks pregnant and her unborn child did not survive.
Miller was rushed to the hospital and doctors performed an emergency cesarean section but the fetus did not survive.
The coroner has determined the manner of death of both mother and baby but said that information come from the district attorney's office, which would say only that the investigation is continuing.
Miller's husband is a state trooper at the Skippack barracks. The couple has two other children.
Judge suspends Pa. ban on super PAC fundraising
HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) - A federal judge has temporarily ordered state officials not to enforce a law that bars corporations and unions from contributing to independent political committees.
U.S. District Judge William Caldwell on Monday granted a preliminary injunction requested by a Washington-based super PAC that plans to raise money to help elect Democrats to Pennsylvania's Republican-controlled Legislature this year.
The General Majority PAC recently sued the state on grounds that its laws unconstitutionally prohibit super PACs, which can raise and spend unlimited funds for candidates. Lawyers for both sides are negotiating a prospective out-of-court settlement.
Joe Peters, a spokesman for the state attorney general's office, says the order applies only to committees that make independent expenditures on behalf of candidates, but don't contribute to or coordinate with candidates or political party committees.
Building evacuated after suicide by chemicals
FEASTERVILLE, Pa. (AP) - About 30 residents of a suburban Philadelphia apartment building had to be evacuated after a resident committed suicide with household chemicals.
Local fire departments and the Bucks County Hazardous Incident Response Team arrived at the Chalet Village Apartments on Sunday morning after getting calls about a chemical odor.
Lower Southampton Fire Marshal Bill Oettinger said a man in one of the apartments committed suicide with a mixture of household chemicals.
Oettinger said that two other people in the apartment, including a toddler, were taken to a hospital after inhaling the fumes.
The Bucks County Courier Times said residents were allowed back into their apartments after the fume levels dissipated.
County spokesman Chris Edwards said hydrogen sulfide was the substance used by the victim.
Guilty pleas in thefts from Pa. wedding receptions
POTTSTOWN, Pa. (AP) - A man police called a wedding crasher thief has admitted stealing cash and gifts from wedding receptions in suburban Philadelphia.
Thirty-six-year-old Joseph Patrick Franzone Jr. of Bridgeport pleaded guilty Monday in Montgomery County Court to theft and attempted theft charges.
Franzone was accused of stealing thousands of dollars in wedding gifts from a car outside a Lower Gwynedd reception hall on July 7, as well as stealing a card box with $9,000 worth of gifts from a wedding reception in Upper Providence on June 2.
Franzone, who remains in the county jail without bail, faces a possible maximum sentence of 12 to 24 years in prison on the charges. A sentencing date hasn't been set.
Defense attorney Sharon Meisler said the crimes were fueled by Franzone's prescription drug habit.
ART STUDENT BEATEN
Jury selection begins in Pittsburgh police trial
PITTSBURGH (AP) - Jury selection is underway in Pittsburgh in the case of a young black man who claims that he was wrongly beaten by three city police officers.
The retrial of Jordan Miles' civil lawsuit was to have begun last year, but it was delayed after the death of the judge who handled the first trial.
The case revolves around allegations that the three Pittsburgh police officers wrongly arrested and beat Miles in 2010, when he was an 18-year-old student. The officers said that Miles appeared to be armed and resisted arrest.
In 2012 a jury unanimously found that the officers did not maliciously prosecute Miles, but some jurors found that they used excessive force, leading to the retrial.
Pa. ski lift shutdown strands dozens; no injuries
LEWISBERRY, Pa. (AP) - Officials say a mechanical problem stranded dozens of people on a central Pennsylvania ski lift over the weekend.
Chris Dudding of Roundtop Mountain Resort in York County told PennLive.com that no one was injured in Saturday's incident.
He says a worn out part shut down the system just before 4 p.m. Saturday, stranding some of the skiers for as long as an hour and a half.
Dudding said the resort's ski patrol and other employees get left evacuation training each season, and Saturday's rescue operation went smoothly.
He said the part is being replaced and the lift will be back in operation soon.
Former Sandusky lawyer Rominger subject of probe
HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) - A prosecutor in central Pennsylvania says his office is investigating whether one of Jerry Sandusky's former defense attorneys stole "a significant amount of client funds."
Cumberland County District Attorney David Freed released a statement Monday that said he learned of allegations against Karl Rominger that concern a divorce case last week and that his office is currently using forensic accounting tools to investigate.
Freed says he's met with Rominger's defense attorney, Bill Costopoulos, who stated a desire to cooperate.
Rominger told The Associated Press on Friday that he's "cooperating completely" and referred further questions to Costopoulos, who wasn't immediately available.
A lawyer involved in Sandusky's appeal of his child molestation conviction says Rominger's representation of Sandusky ended some time ago.
Rominger's law firm is based in Carlisle.
Former restaurant manager in alleged $30k theft
PITTSBURGH (AP) - A former manager for several Primanti Brothers restaurants in the Pittsburgh area has been arrested on allegations he stole more than $30,000 and used it for gambling.
Court papers show that 30-year-old Benjamin Bartilson was arrested Monday. Bartilson allegedly sent text messages to company officials in late February and admitted he took deposits meant for local banks used them to gamble. Primanti's is well known in the region for its large sandwiches topped with coleslaw and french fries.
A preliminary hearing is scheduled for March 20. No attorney was listed on court papers, and Bartilson couldn't be located for comment.
ICY RIVER RESCUE
Woman rescued after walking onto thin river ice
HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) - A woman had to be rescued after she walked out onto thinning ice covering the Susquehanna River near the Market Street bridge in Harrisburg.
Authorities say the woman walked about 150 feet onto the thawing ice Monday afternoon.
Rescuers first instructed the woman to lie down in order to spread out her weight. They then used a boat tethered to shore to bring her back to the riverbank.
Harrisburg Fire Chief Brian Enterline said the ice is starting to crack and the woman could have died if she went into the water. He declined to give her name.
It was unclear where she had walked onto the river or how long she was on the ice. After the rescue, she was taken from the scene by city police.
Times-Tribune names interim managing editor
SCRANTON, Pa. (AP) - A journalist with longstanding ties to northeastern Pennsylvania is going to work for The Times-Tribune in Scranton as its interim managing editor.
The paper said Monday that 55-year-old Joseph Butkiewicz would be joining the staff at the end of the month.
His duties will involve managing day-to-day operations at the Scranton paper and to work with Times Shamrock editors in Wilkes-Barre, Hazleton and Pottsville.
Butkiewicz is a resident of Kingston who spent decades working at the Wilkes-Barre Times Leader, most recently was executive editor. He resigned from that paper last summer.
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