The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

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January 23, 2013

MORNING BRIEFING: Turnpike officials still getting free cars

News from across Pennsylvania

HARRISBURG —

State auditors are criticizing the fact that Pennsylvania Turnpike commissioners are still driving free cars.

The Philadelphia Inquirer reports Turnpike Commission Chairman William Lieberman got a $40,000 2013 Jeep Cherokee on Dec. 28. The newspaper reports he handed down the 2012 model he got a year earlier to fellow Commissioner Pasquale "Pat" Deon.

The other two commissioners, Michael Pratt and William Lincoln, drive 2011 Ford Explorers that cost $33,945 each.

Outgoing Auditor General Jack Wagner criticized the free cars, calling them an "overly generous" perk. Tolls went up Jan. 6.

State auditors write that they don't believe part-time commissioners require permanently assigned vehicles. They say the commission should discontinue the practice.

The commission's acting chief executive officer, Craig Shuey, calls the vehicles "appropriate and necessary."

 

Ex-Drilling firm controller set for theft plea

 

PITTSBURGH — The former controller of a natural gas drilling company is scheduled to waive indictment and plead guilty to charges she helped steal more than $5.4 million from the western Pennsylvania business.

Cheryl Diane Brooks was charged in December with one count of conspiracy and three counts each of mail fraud and filing false tax returns in connection with the alleged scheme at Falcon Drilling LLC of Indiana, Pa. Her attorney said then he anticipated Brooks would plead guilty, but he didn't immediately return a call for comment about Wednesday's plea scheduled before a federal judge in Pittsburgh.

Federal investigators say Brooks began forging checks in February 2004 at the behest of 52-year-old Larry Winckler, the company's former chief operating officer.

Winckler's attorney has confirmed the ongoing investigation but has otherwise declined to comment.

 

Ex-Special ed prof pleading in child porn case

 

 

PITTSBURGH — A former western Pennsylvania university professor who specialized in special education faces is scheduled to change his not guilty plea to federal child pornography charges.

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