The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

Local News

March 22, 2013

Local and state in brief: Fire damages office trailer



DEP secretary resigns

HARRISBURG – Gov. Tom Corbett’s environmental protection secretary will leave the post next month after two years of guiding the agency that regulated Pennsylvania’s natural gas boom amid clashes with environmental advocates, federal regulators and Democratic lawmakers.

Michael Krancer, who was a state environmental law judge and lawyer for energy giant Exelon Corp. before joining the Republican governor’s administration, helped oversee Corbett’s Marcellus Shale Advisory Commission and handled emerging issues of river and air pollution as Pennsylvania worked to modernize its laws to address new drilling and hydraulic fracturing techniques.

Corbett said Krancer, 55, of Bryn Mawr, will return to private law practice after April 15 with the Philadelphia-based firm Blank Rome, where he will serve as chairman of the firm’s energy, petrochemical and natural resources practice.

Christopher Abruzzo, one of Corbett’s deputy chiefs of staff, will serve as acting secretary until a successor is named, Corbett said.

NBC to air Sandusky interviews

STATE COLLEGE – NBC plans to air excerpts of jailhouse interviews with former Penn State assistant coach Jerry Sandusky next week

Sandusky’s lawyer said the interviews were given to a documentary filmmaker working on a defense of Joe Paterno.

The network said in the segment, to be broadcast Monday on the “Today” show, the convicted sex offender will give his account of the encounters that landed him in prison and discuss his former boss, who was accused in a university-funded investigation of covering up allegations against Sandusky in a bid to preserve the football program’s reputation.

Sandusky, 69, is serving a 30- to 60-year prison term after being convicted in June of 45 counts of child sexual abuse of 10 boys, including violent attacks inside campus athletic facilities.

Ex-chief to plead guilty

PITTSBURGH – Former city police Chief Nate Harper will plead guilty to charges that he conspired to steal city police funds deposited into unauthorized police credit union accounts and failed to file federal tax returns from 2008 to 2011, his attorneys said Friday.

Harper’s lawyers made the announcement at a news conference on a day of fast-moving developments in the federal investigation after prosecutors announced the grand jury indictment. Harper pleaded not guilty to the charges at an arraignment, and the judge said the former chief could remain free.

U.S. Attorney David Hickton called Harper’s actions “the worst kind of public corruption,” and said it was “a sad day” for authorities who had worked closely with the soft-spoken, generally well-liked and seemingly humble man on issues ranging from gang violence and security for the G-20 economic summit in 2009.

“This is puzzling and baffling behavior,” Hickton said.

Later, Harper begged off appearing at the news conference at the last minute because he was “embarrassed and distraught,” defense attorney Robert DelGreco said. The 36-year police veteran has lost 20 pounds since Mayor Luke Ravenstahl demanded his resignation Feb. 20 after meeting with the FBI about the investigation, Harper’s attorneys said.

But the former chief, who came up through the ranks of Pittsburgh’s roughly 800-officer force and was chief since 2006, takes “full responsibility” for his actions, said Robert Leight, another Harper attorney.

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