The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

October 3, 2012

Midday briefing: Hackers got credit card numbers at Nemacolin

News from around the state

Associated Press

FARMINGTON — State police and federal authorities are investigating computer hacking that victimized guests who made credit card purchases earlier this year at stores and restaurants in the posh Nemacolin Woodlands Resort in Fayette County.

Uniontown state police barracks spokeswoman Trooper Stefani Plume says federal agencies are also looking into the thefts of credit card numbers, expiration dates and security codes in May, June and July. She says it's unclear whether state police or federal authorities will file charges once suspects are identified.

The hacking did not affect the credit card numbers used by guests to check-in to the resort about 40 miles southeast of Pittsburgh. No customers' names were hacked, either.

Police and resort officials say the credit card information was used to make fraudulent purchases elsewhere. Affected people should contact their credit card company and the resort.

Police, coroner probe body found in Fayette County woods

UNIONTOWN — State police and coroner's officials have been waiting for a forensic pathology team to take custody of a body found in a wooded area of Fayette.

The unidentified body was found about 8 p.m. Tuesday, but still hadn't been moved nearly 14 hours later because state police from Uniontown and the Fayette County coroner were waiting for the scientific team to arrive from Pittsburgh on Wednesday.

It was not immediately clear how the person died or how long the body was in the area before it was discovered.

Police and the coroner expected to release more information later in the day.

Pair face parenting classes due to cockroaches

CLAIRTON — A Pittsburgh-area couple whose home was condemned due to cockroach infestation last month, can avoid prosecution for endangering their four young children if they take parenting classes for 90 days.

A Clairton district judge on Tuesday postponed a preliminary hearing on the endangerment charges until Jan. 8 to give 32-year-old Cindy Nehila and her 24-year-old husband, David Nehila, time to finish the classes. The couple's oldest child is 10.

Clairton police say the couple initially tried to blame the cockroaches on a neighboring building, but officers found filthy conditions and layers of cockroaches in the house. The bugs were so bad, they were threatening to infest the homes of neighbors, who called an exterminator.

The couple's attorney, William Helzlsouer (hel-zel-SOW'-er) tells The Associated Press, "There was a problem and that problem is being remedied."

Pitt student dragged by car as robbers seek laptop

PITTSBURGH — A University of Pittsburgh student has been injured by robbers who tried to steal his laptop computer as he walked along the street near campus and then dragged him with their car as he struggled to hold onto the device.

City police have yet to release the victim's name or say whether they have any suspects in custody in the incident which took place about 8:20 p.m. Tuesday.

The robbery was close to an area where nine people — some of them students from Pitt or nearby Carnegie Mellon University — were robbed Sunday night by two men using a BB pistol.

Police are warning students and others in the area to take extra precautions.

Tuesday's victim was being treated for a possibly broken leg.

County councilman seeks Pittsburgh 'Walk of Fame'

PITTSBURGH — An Allegheny County councilman wants to honor famous dead people with a "Walk of Fame" in downtown Pittsburgh.

Democratic Councilman James Ellenbogen says courtyard bricks would be engraved with the names of former residents or others who have "attracted national or regional recognition".

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette ( ) reports Ellenbogen introduced his bill on Tuesday. The idea would be similar to the Hollywood Walk of Fame in California, which honors entertainment figures.

Ellenbogen wants a 10-person committee to recommend up to 10 people annually, with the provision that they would have to be dead at least five years and have some substantial connection to the county.

Under those criteria, steel baron Andrew Carnegie, pop artist Andy Warhol, children's TV pioneer Fred Rogers, and Pittsburgh Pirates Hall of Famer Roberto Clemente are examples of those who could be honored.

Highway reopens after tire-changer death

TARENTUM — State police have released the identity of a man killed while changing a tire along a busy highway near Pittsburgh, whose death prompted the northbound lanes to be closed for more than five hours.

Troopers from the Kittanning barracks say 24-year-old Kevin Eshelman, of Gilpin Township, was killed when another vehicle struck him about 3:45 a.m. Wednesday near the Creighton exit of Route 28. That's about 20 miles northeast of Pittsburgh. Police had earlier said the victim was 25 and from Leechburg, a neighboring borough.

Police say they've questioned the driver and that charges could be filed pending more investigation. That man is 25 and from nearby Brackenridge.

Police say a second person helping to change the tire was also hurt in the crash and has been taken to a local hospital with non-life-threatening injuries.

Town crafts compromise over parade chairs

CANONSBURG — A Washington County borough council has crafted a compromise to a long-sitting problem.

Canonsburg borough's Fourth of July Committee wants to limit how soon residents can put chairs along the borough's Independence Day parade route because some folks have begun putting up chairs to save their seats nearly two weeks in advance.

Council says that's unsafe and, earlier this year, proposed to ban the chairs until 6 a.m. each July 4.

But now council plans to vote two weeks from now on a rule that will let residents put the chairs out two days earlier.

They're doing that because the chair-placing has become an event unto itself, with a local civic group giving out cash prizes for the most flamboyantly decorated seats.

Officials hope the compromise will reduce safety problems but not dampen the pre-parade tradition.

Death-row inmate awaits word on execution

HARRISBURG — Defense lawyers for a Pennsylvania death-row inmate say the state's high court shouldn't decide "on the fly" whether he lives or dies by a midnight deadline Wednesday.

Lawyers for Terrance "Terry" Williams are waiting to hear if Pennsylvania's Supreme Court will restore his death sentence.

A state judge believes prosecutors hid evidence at Williams' 1986 murder trial, and last week stayed the execution. She's also granted Williams a new sentencing hearing.

But Philadelphia's district attorney has appealed the stay, and wants Williams executed before his death warrant expires Wednesday.

Williams' lawyers, in a filing Wednesday morning, say prosecutors never appealed the new sentencing hearing. They say Williams can't be executed without a valid death sentence.

They will file an immediate appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court if the state prepares to execute the 46-year-old Williams.

Harrisburg airport reopens after landing mishap

HARRISBURG — A central Pennsylvania airport that was temporarily shut down by a disabled plane has resumed normal operations.

Officials at Harrisburg International Airport say flights should be back on schedule starting Wednesday morning.

Spokesman Scott Miller says the airport's only runway closed Tuesday around 9:30 p.m. after a private plane touched down and its landing gear collapsed.

The pilot, who was the only passenger, was unhurt. But the single-engine aircraft remained disabled on the runway for about two hours.

The airport announced shortly after midnight that normal operations had resumed.

Lawyer: Bad medicine led family to strip naked

MEDIA — The attorney for a woman who stripped naked with three of her children outside a suburban Philadelphia high school says an adverse medical reaction triggered the psychotic episode.

According to the Delaware County Daily Times ( ), Sara Butler's lawyer says contradictory medications for lupus led the 44-year-old mother to think the world was ending.

Butler drove to Upper Darby High School in March with two adult children and a teenage son. She wanted to pick up another child, but the student wasn't released because Butler was not the custodial parent.

Police say family members then shed their clothes in the parking lot and chanted religious phrases.

Butler and her adult daughters pleaded guilty Monday to indecent exposure and related charges. All were placed on probation.

Congressional candidate sets forum conditions

DOYLESTOWN — A Republican congressional candidate in suburban Philadelphia says he doesn't want his Democratic challenger present when he is speaking at candidate forums.

Several groups sponsoring forums say U.S. Rep. Mike Fitzpatrick has set strict conditions, including requirements that there be no recording devices and that Democratic challenger Kathy Boockvar not be present when Fitzpatrick speaks.

Boockvar says Fitzpatrick doesn't want voters to see them side by side and hear "a full and frank discussion."

Fitzpatrick tells The Intelligencer of Doylestown ( ) he and Boockvar have agreed to a series of three actual debates together. He says he doesn't understand why there's a concerted effort to make him appear inaccessible.

The two are vying for a seat in Pennsylvania's 8th congressional district.

3 charged in N.J., Pa. pot bust

BETHLEHEM TOWNSHIP, N.J. — Prosecutors say a three-month investigation into marijuana distribution in Hunterdon County and Easton, Pennsylvania ended with the arrests of three people.

Authorities moved in after they say they observed the three harvesting numerous pot plants off a road in Bethlehem Township on Monday.

Police seized approximately 45 pounds of marijuana with a street value of $200,000 and nine partially harvested plants.

Prosecutors have charged 46-year-old Michael Belmonte of Hampton, 53-year-old Stephen Benko of Lebanon and 42-year-old William Hogrebe of Easton, Pa., with possession with intent to distribute a controlled substance and eluding.

It's not known if they hired lawyers.