The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

November 8, 2012

Midday Briefing | Police: Baby fatally ingested heroin

Associated Press


Police say a southeastern Pennsylvania baby's death this summer was caused by heroin he ingested.

Collingdale police say the July 15 death of Niccolo Varner was the result of acute heroin intoxication. Police and Delaware County prosecutors say the death is under investigation.

Niccolo died after paramedics were called to his home for a report of a child in respiratory distress.

No charges were filed at the time of Varner's death. The boy was at home with his parents, a sibling and a house guest when he was stricken.


Student detained after bringing gun to school

PITTSBURGH — A Pittsburgh boy has been detained by authorities after he was found with a gun in a city high school.

Pittsburgh Public Schools spokeswoman Ebony Pugh says she doesn't know if the gun was loaded and says school officials don't yet know "what his intentions were" when the student was found with the handgun Wednesday afternoon at Perry Traditional Academy.

Pugh says the student is relatively new to the school, so authorities don't believe he had the gun in connection with street gang members who are known to be active in that school and others in the city.

The school was on lockdown while school police and security officials dealt with the issue. The school will have extra security, including police K-9 units for the rest of the week.

The incident remains under investigation.


Man waives hearing in friend's shoving death

EVERETT — A Pennsylvania man has waived his right to a preliminary hearing on involuntary manslaughter and aggravated assault charges stemming from an alcohol-fueled shoving match with his life-long friend.

Forty-nine-year-old Dennis Sprigg died nearly seven weeks after the Aug. 11 shoving match involving 51-year-old Randy Foor at Foor's Bedford home. Police arrested Foor on Friday and he waived his right to a hearing on the charges Wednesday, meaning he must now stand trial or plead guilty to the charges.

Police say Sprigg was knocked unconscious when he hit his head but regained consciousness long enough to tell medics that Foor had shoved him.

The men were arguing over a softball game and Foor's attorney has called the death a "horrible, tragic accident."

Bedford County District Attorney William Higgins agrees, but says Foor must still be held responsible.


Possible developments in death-penalty appeal

Several developments are possible in the death-penalty appeal of 56-year-old Hubert L. Michael Jr., who is set to be executed Thursday.

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court rejected a stay of execution, as federal judges in Harrisburg have done in two separate cases, but appeals of those rulings are pending in the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Philadelphia.



State school objects to town's alcohol fee

CALIFORNIA — Officials with state-owned California University of Pennsylvania are objecting to a new borough ordinance that would charge the school a fee whenever alcohol is served at the school's new Convocation Center.

California Borough Council approved the measure Nov. 1 which would charge California University of Pennsylvania at least $750 per event, and up to $3,750 for sold-out shows in the 6,000 seat arena.

The school's vice president for marketing and university relations, Craig Butzine, says the ordinance is unnecessary and illegal. State law prohibits municipalities from adopting laws that target individual businesses or entities.

The borough's mayor didn't immediately return a call for comment Thursday.

The Observer-Reporter of Washington, Pa. reports school officials contend local zoning allows for alcohol sale on school grounds, so any additional regulations are illegal.


Book warehouse to close, 192 jobs affected

THROOP — HarperCollins Publishers plans to close a northeastern Pennsylvania warehouse next year, meaning close to 200 people will lose their jobs.

A company spokeswoman cited the digital shift as the reason for the closure of the warehouse in Throop, Luzerne County. A warehouse in Nashville will also close.

HarperCollins declined to say how many jobs would be lost but union officials put the number at 192. Teamsters Local 229 tells The Citizens' Voice of Wilkes-Barre the expected closure date is September 2013.

Customer service, accounting and other operations in an adjoining HarperCollins facility will be unaffected.


Information from: The Citizens' Voice,