The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

State News

July 25, 2013

State in brief 7/26/2013

Blast puts hole in roof of Derry metals plant

DERRY – An explosion blew a 60-foot hole in the roof of a specialty metals plant in Derry Township, but no workers were reported injured.

ATI Allegheny Ludlum spokesman Dan Greenfield said the incident was caused when water came into contact with hot metal.

Westmoreland County emergency dispatchers were notified of the blast shortly after 9 p.m. Wednesday.

The plant houses an electric arc furnace used to make nickel and other specialty alloys.

Worker sentenced for rifle incident

GREENSBURG – A Greensburg man was sentenced to three to 23 months in jail for bringing an assault rifle to a foundry after he was suspended from work for three days.

Matthew D. Smith, 28, was suspended from work May 22. Later that morning he showed up at the Perma-Cast building in Penn Township with an AK-47 assault rifle and a handgun.

Smith allegedly told employees to leave. He surrendered to authorities the next day. No injuries were reported.

Westmoreland County Judge Alfred Bell ordered Wednesday that Smith undergo a mental health evaluation.

Police: Nearly $90G missing at PSU frat

STATE COLLEGE – Police are investigating a report that nearly $90,000 is missing from a fraternity at Penn State.

State College police said someone at the Theta Delta Chi fraternity reported the missing money.

According to a search warrant, bank records show about $57,000 in suspicious cash withdrawals from a fraternity bank account between August 2011 and December 2012. Police said in the same search warrant that about $30,000 worth of debit card withdrawals also appeared to be unauthorized.

Nobody has been charged, and the fraternity has not commented on the investigation.

Judge fines juror who cursed when selected

ERIE – A woman has been fined $500 for cursing because she was frustrated with being picked to serve on a jury.

The Erie Times-News reported that Erie County Judge Ernest DiSantis levied the fine Wednesday on Kathleen Port.

DiSantis told the Erie woman she was “totally out of line” and explained that jury service is a duty of citizenship.

Port, whose phone number is unlisted, apologized several times but was fined nonetheless.

She told the judge she was upset because jury service would make her miss work and cost her income. DiSantis said Port could have claimed a hardship on her jury service questionnaire, but did not.

Port was thrown off the jury.

Statistical duel marks voter ID trial

HARRISBURG – A statistician hired by the state criticized the methodology of another expert who claimed hundreds of thousands of Pennsylvania voters lack the photo identification they would need to cast ballots under a pending law.

William Wecker testified Thursday that his review of Philadelphia statistician Bernard Siskin’s report overstated the number of voters without IDs by failing to subtract those who have died, moved out of state or are barred from voting because they are incarcerated felons.

On cross-examination, a lawyer for the plaintiffs sought to counter Wecker’s review by focusing on weaknesses in his own approach to assessing the influence of those voter groups.

Washington lawyer Michael Rubin said outside the courtroom that Wecker showed only “a tiny sliver” of voters identified in Siskin’s report who may have other valid ID.

 The nine-day-old trial in a lawsuit seeking to overturn the photo ID law on constitutional grounds is scheduled to resume Tuesday in Commonwealth Court.

Jury deliberates music church case

PITTSBURGH – A federal jury has begun to deliberations on whether the constitutional rights of a Fayette County religious group were violated during a 2009 drug raid.

The Uniontown Herald-Standard reported that deliberations began Thursday over the Church of Universal Love and Music, which held concerts at a 147-acre farm.


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