The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

January 9, 2013

Evening News Brief | Homeless man held on stolen ambulance charge


Associated Press

BELLE VERNON — Police have arrested a homeless man on a charge of receiving stolen property after they say he was found gassing up an ambulance that had been reported stolen from a western Pennsylvania service hours before.

Nineteen-year-old Jonathan David Miracle was awaiting arraignment Wednesday on a charge of receiving stolen property after police say they found him standing outside the ambulance at a BFS Foods convenience store in Rostraver Township about 2:20 a.m. That's more than 10 miles away from Swissvale, where the Eastern Area PreHospital Service ambulance was reported stolen to police the night before.

An employee who answered the phone at the ambulance service says the executive director is not immediately available to comment.

Police tell the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette the ambulance was properly stocked with equipment when officers arrived, though Miracle was not wearing ambulance gear.

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Guilty plea in child's drain cleaner death

PHILADELPHIA — A Philadelphia man has been sentenced to 17 1/2 to 35 years in prison for killing a toddler he was babysitting by rubbing drain cleaner on him.

Thirty-six-year-old Aaron Pace pleaded guilty Wednesday to third-degree murder in the February 2010 death of 20-month-old Suliaman Kirkland.

Prosecutors say Pace sprinkled Drano crystals on a washcloth and rubbed it onto the child's skin because the boy was "fussing in the tub."

The toddler suffered severe burns and died in a hospital five days later.

Pace said he understood what he was doing by pleading guilty, though defense attorney Fred Goodman said his client's IQ was between 57 and 68.

Members of Pace's family were ejected from the courtroom for swearing and threatening the Kirkland family.

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Ex-Seton Hall star Herb Pope to trial for gun

BEAVER — A former western Pennsylvania high school basketball star who graduated from Seton Hall earlier this year has been ordered to stand trial on charges of terroristic threats and public drunkenness for allegedly pulling a gun on a bartender on New Year's Eve.

The Beaver County Times reports the incident happened about 11 p.m. at a bar in Ambridge, not far from where 23-year-old Herb Pope starred at Aliquippa Junior-Senior High School.

Police say Pope was upset when an underage friend was denied service. The bartender testified at a preliminary hearing Tuesday that Pope called him names, became "aggressive" and pulled out the gun — though he never aimed it at the bartender or threatened to shoot him.

Pope's attorney argued the behavior was "irresponsible" but not a crime, but a district judge disagreed.

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Freezing rain icing roads, causing crashes

BUTLER — Police have been warning motorists to stay off the roads or use extreme caution in the suburbs and counties north of Pittsburgh, where rain is freezing on roadways despite above-freezing air temperatures.

The National Weather Service says the icy spots are developing because the ground remains cold enough from a recent cold spell.

State police in Butler, 30 miles north of the city, issued a plea for people to stay off the roads temporarily, and police in Punxsutawney, 60 miles northeast of the city, report they're dealing with multiple crashes.

Social media sites have been buzzing with reports of icy pavement and crashes on Route 28 northeast of the city, as well as Interstate 79 between Portersville and Zelienople in Butler County.

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Ex-Pa. tax collector cooperating in theft probe

WEST BROWNSVILLE — The attorney for the former tax collector in a tiny southwestern Pennsylvania borough says she's cooperating with investigators who have charged her with stealing $115,000 from the municipality over several years.

Attorney Herbert Mitchell won't say why 58-year-old Cindy Lacey, of West Brownsville, stole the money, but says she's working to resolve the charge "fairly and expeditiously."

Lacey's arrest was announced Wednesday by Washington County District Attorney Eugene Vittone, whose office began investigating about six months ago because borough officials noticed declining tax revenues over the last several years.

The single charge Lacey faces of failure to make required disposition of funds indicates the thefts stretch back to at least 2005. Other details on the thefts were not immediately available. Lacey remained jailed Wednesday, unable to post $115,000 bond.

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School district: Weed killer damaged 55 trees

NEW HOPE — A suburban Philadelphia school district says it had 55 evergreen trees damaged by a defective weed killer.

The Intelligencer of Doylestown reports the New Hope-Solebury School District is among thousands who have fired a class-action lawsuit over Dupont's herbicide, Imprelis.

New Hope-Solebury Director of Operations Dave Hansel says Dupont contractors removed 12 of the trees in September because they posed an immediate hazard.

Hansel says Dupont has offered the district about $115,000. He says the district can choose to accept the settlement or accept Dupont's offer to remove the damaged trees and plant new ones.

The school board will discuss the matter Thursday.

In 2011, Dupont said it was halting sales of the defective weed killer and regretted any tree injuries.