The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

October 10, 2012

Evening News Brief | Coroner IDs 2 killed in helicopter crash


Associated Press

TOBYHANNA —

A coroner has released the identities of two men killed in a helicopter crash in northeastern Pennsylvania.

Monroe County Coroner Bob Allen identifies the victims as William Ellsworth, 52, of Califon N.J., and Tighe Sullivan, 51, of Darien, Conn. A third man, Stephen Barral, of Bernardsville, N.J., was seriously hurt and is being treated at a hospital.

Investigators believe the chopper went down sometime around 8 p.m. Tuesday in Coolbaugh Township, about 90 miles north of Philadelphia. Authorities say the crew apparently got lost in bad weather on the way back from a golf outing.

Ellsworth was piloting and Sullivan was the front-seat passenger.

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Man arrested on gun charges in officer's death

NORRISTOWN — An alleged "straw purchaser" was arrested Wednesday on charges he supplied guns to a man who fatally shot a suburban Philadelphia police officer last month.

Michael Henry, 30, of Philadelphia was arrested on nine felonies, Montgomery County District Attorney Risa Vetri Ferman said. Authorities allege he supplied Andrew Charles Thomas, 44, of Lower Merion with nine weapons, including one used to kill Plymouth Township Officer Bradley Fox during a pursuit after an attempted traffic stop.

Ferman said Henry bought the weapon from a gun store in May and resold it illegally to Thomas, who fatally shot himself as police pursued him after the officer's killing.

The charges against Henry each relate to the illegal sale of firearms and giving sworn falsification to authorities. He is being held on $1 million cash bail, pending his Oct. 16 preliminary hearing. It was not immediately clear if he had an attorney.

Prosecutors said he bought seven pistols and two rifles at gun stores in West Norriton and East Pikeland townships between April and July, then illegally transferred them for $500 each to Thomas.

"We call this a 'straw purchase,' meaning someone who is legally allowed to purchase a firearm purchases one and then gives it illegally to someone who is not permitted to purchase that firearm," Ferman said.

Thomas was not allowed to possess firearms because he was on probation for a 2005 forgery arrest in Upper Merion, officials said.

"He (Henry) put nine guns into the hands of a felon, and one of those guns was used to kill a police officer," Ferman said. "And we will go to court and we will ask our courts to do justice."

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Pharmacy tech, husband nailed for stolen pills

ERIE — A supermarket pharmacy technician and her husband have been sentenced in federal court for selling 80,000 painkilling pills she stole from her workplace in northwestern Pennsylvania.

Thirty-year-old Nicole Velez stole the pills while working at a Giant Eagle pharmacy in Millcreek Township, near Erie, from January 2009 and February 2010. She has been sentenced to three years' probation while her husband, 33-year-old Richard Velez, will do 46 months in prison for his role in the scheme.

The Erie Times-News says the primary reason for the different sentences was that Richard Velez has a criminal record while his wife does not.

Federal agents say the pills were sold for $3 to $5 each by Richard Velez at a tattoo parlor where he worked and out of the couple's former residence in Erie.

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State DEP issues permit for gas-fired power plant

HARRISBURG — The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection has issued a permit for a new electric power plant that will be supplied at least partly with locally produced natural gas from the Marcellus Shale.

The agency says in a release Wednesday that Moxie Liberty LLC of Vienna, Va. plans to build the plant in Bradford County, about 60 miles west of Scranton.

The proposed plant could be completed in two or three years and will generate 468 megawatts of electricity.

A boom in natural gas production in Pennsylvania has led many utilities to consider shifting away from using coal as the primary fuel.

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WPXI's Todd McDermott leaving for Fla. anchor job

PITTSBURGH — Todd McDermott, a morning news co-anchor on the NBC affiliate in Pittsburgh, is leaving to take a job with a station in West Palm Beach, Fla.

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette is reporting Wednesday that McDermott's last day as the morning anchor on WPXI-TV will be Friday.

McDermott is leaving to anchor the evening broadcasts at 5 p.m., 6 p.m. and 11 p.m. for WPBF-TV in Florida, which is owned by Hearst Television.

WPXI will replace McDermott with Joe Arena, starting Oct. 22.

Arena will join McDermott's co-anchor, Jennifer Abney. Arena has worked as an anchor and reporter for the last five years at WIVB, the CBS affiliate in Buffalo, N.Y.