The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

April 6, 2012

In brief: Ex-band director contacted girl, DA says


Staff and wire reports

SOMERSET — A former high school band director has been jailed until he appears in court next week on charges that he had sex with a 16-year-old female student.

Joshua Covert, 38, of Johnstown, is charged with involuntary deviate sexual intercourse, corruption of minors and other charges in connection with the relationship that allegedly began last year. His defense attorney, Robert Gleason, told the Daily American of Somerset that those charges and the bond revocation motion that landed Covert in jail this week will both be resolved on Monday when he enters a plea before a Somerset County judge.

Covert was free on bond on the condition that he not contact the girl. But a judge ordered him jailed Thursday after prosecutors said he contacted the girl on Facebook and sent her two text messages from his wife’s phone.

Woman charged in Portage burglary

PORTAGE – A local woman was charged Friday with breaking into a borough residence late Thursday or early Friday and taking keys, five bags of clothes and household items valued at about $800.

Crystal Liegh Mayes, 23, of the first block of Terrace Circle, also was charged by the Portage borough police with theft and receiving stolen property. She was arraigned before on-call District Judge Rick Varner of Salix.

Mayes was taken to the Cambria County Prison in lieu of $25,000 bail.

The criminal complaint said Mayes was found wearing a stolen sweat shirt outside the victim’s residence on Washington Avenue.

The remainder of the stolen items were located at Mayes’ residence, the complaint said.

Expert: Dog that bit baby not dangerous

PITTSBURGH – A defense expert says the dog that fatally bit a newborn baby inside a Pittsburgh-area home was playing, not attacking the child.

A dog behavior expert told an Allegheny County judge Thursday the dog, Helo, wasn’t trying to harm 2-day-old Howard Nicholson when he bit the child’s head Feb. 16 after they were left unattended.

Prosecutors said the

19-month-old husky is dangerous and wanted him euthanized. A man who subsequently adopted Helo said he’s not dangerous.

Defense expert James Crosby said the dog may have mistaken the newborn for a toy when the child was left on the floor when his mother left the room.

The dog remains quarantined. The hearing was continued until April 27.

A citation was issued to the child’s mother over dog law violations.

EPA: Water quality OK at 20 more wells

DIMOCK – Testing at 20 more water wells in a northeastern Pennsylvania community at the center of a debate over the safety of natural gas drilling in the Marcellus Shale shows no dangerous levels of contamination, according to a report issued Friday by the Environmental Protection Agency.

The EPA had already tested 11 wells in Dimock, Susquehanna County, showing the presence of sodium, methane, chromium or bacteria in six of the wells before the results of the latest round of testing.

Three of the newly tested wells showed methane and one showed  barium well above the EPA’s maximum level, but a treatment system installed in the well is removing the substance, an EPA spokesman said.

Investigators term fire accidental

BOLIVAR – A March 28 house fire has been ruled accidental, state police in Westmoreland County said Friday.

Troopers said an electrical malfunction within wiring caused an electrical arc within the second-floor joist space, causing ignition of surrounding combustibles.

No one was hurt in the fire at the home in the 500 block of 502 Street.

Damage was set at $35,000.

Navy vet to speak at working women lunch

Kristen Majocha, retired Navy veteran and assistant professor of communication at Pitt-Johnstown, will share her story about growing up in a military family and how that experience affected her life in “Obstacles or Road Signs” at this year’s Salute to Working Women Luncheon.

The luncheon will be held from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. April 20 at the Pitt-Johnstown Living-Learning Center.

Participants will hear Majocha, a self-proclaimed “Navy brat,” talk about how she juggled competing obligations in her military and civilian lives while taking advantage of otherwise unknown opportunities.

She will reveal some of the tactics she learned in order to thrive under tremendous pressure during times of unexpected drama.

The seminar luncheon is presented by the Pitt-Johnstown Office of Community Education and Outreach.

The cost is $24 per person or $207 for a table of nine. Registrations still are being accepted.

More information on the luncheon can be obtained by calling the Outreach Office at 269-2099 or visiting pitt-johnstown.pitt.edu/Outreach.

Judge says confession was ‘false bravado’

SCRANTON – A judge who had to pick between dueling confessions in a 2008 arson case has denied a woman’s request for post-trial relief, saying the other possible culprit’s “false bravado” destroyed his credibility.

Lackawanna County Judge Vito Geroulo said Holly Dougher’s own confession, backed by an acquaintance who was with her the night of the fire, is more reliable than a later confession from a man now jailed for a number of other arsons.

Dougher pleaded guilty to a lesser misdemeanor charge a little more than a year after the fire in Carbondale Township.

But Stephen Giacobbe told The Times-Tribune of Scranton last year that he set the fire.

Geroulo said this week Giacobbe’s testimony was merely an attempt to paint himself as “an arch criminal” among his fellow inmates.

AIDS activists step up Hershey boycott call

HARRISBURG – Amid the Easter weekend surge in candy sales, AIDS activists are stepping up calls for a boycott of Hershey candy to protest the refusal of a boarding school with ties to the company to admit a teenager because he is HIV-positive.

AIDS Healthcare Foundation staged protests Friday in San Francisco, New York City and Hershey, where the company headquarters and the school are based. A lawsuit filed against the school is pending.

The Milton Hershey School contends the decision was appropriate. It said that despite the school’s best efforts to teach abstinence, teenage students might still engage in sexual activity. It said: “When they do, they will be doing so on our watch.”

Milton Hershey School Trust funds the school and holds the controlling interest in the candy company.

Detour to resume for 4th Ave. Bridge

An 18-mile car detour will be reinstated Monday so that work can continue on the 4th Avenue Bridge in Johnstown.

The car detour will follow Benshoff Hill Road, Route 271, Washington Street and Route 56/403. A separate truck detour also will be in place.

The pedestrian shuttle will run from 7 a.m.-7 p.m. Monday through Friday and from

8 a.m.-6 p.m. weekends and holidays. Pickup times will not exceed 30 minutes, PennDOT said.

Shuttle stop locations include the 4th Avenue-Power Street and Garvey Place-Iron Street intersections.

Work on the $5 million project is expected to be completed by June 2013. The prime contractor is Swank Construction Co.

Diamond Naturals recalls dog food

ATLANTA – Diamond Pet Foods is voluntarily recalling its Diamond Naturals Lamb Meal & Rice dry dog food because it may be contaminated with salmonella.

The product was distributed to customers in Pennsylvania and 11 other states.

A statement from the company Friday said no illnesses have been reported and no other Diamond products are affected.

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