The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

October 10, 2012

Midday Briefing | Court nixes sentence in MySpace sex case

Associated Press

ERIE — A 35-year-old northwestern Pennsylvania man serving 20 years in federal prison for trying to seduce a 14-year-old girl he met on the MySpace social networking site must be resentenced.

The 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals says a federal judge didn't consider arguments from Michael Begin's defense attorney that the sentence might be unduly harsh.

Begin has pleaded guilty to attempting to seduce the girl and attempting to transfer obscene material to her.

What Begin didn't know is that the girl's mother saw messages he had sent in late 2009 and contacted the FBI, who then used the girl's cell phone and MySpace account to keep in touch with Begin.

The Bradford man was carrying handcuffs and a condom when he was arrested at a restaurant where he arranged to meet the girl in February 2010.


Friend describes deadly cosmetic surgery at hotel

PHILADELPHIA — A 22-year-old London woman is testifying in Philadelphia about the fatal cosmetic surgery done to a friend at an airport hotel.

Theresa Gymfi says her 20-year-old friend Claudia Aderotimi died hours after a woman pumped silicone into their buttocks in February 2011.

She says they had no problems when they had the same procedure done on a trip months earlier. But Gymfi says her childhood friend had trouble breathing shortly after the second procedure.

She is testifying at a preliminary hearing Wednesday for Padge Gordon, also known as Padge Windslowe. Gordon is charged with third-degree murder and practicing medicine without a license.

Gymfi says Gordon left the hotel after her friend became ill and told them to call an ambulance if she didn't get better.


Students disciplined for pic of DJ with bras

IRWIN — A western Pennsylvania school district has disciplined some students after a disc jockey posted a Facebook picture showing bras some students threw at him during a recent homecoming dance.

Norwin School District officials tell The Associated Press that an unspecified number of students have been disciplined. The school will also no longer allow the disc jockey, Eric Wenning, to work school dances.

School officials say it doesn't appear that Wenning encouraged the girls to throw bras at him during the Sept. 29 dance, but say he showed poor judgment by posting the Facebook picture of himself posing with the bras.

Wenning has told WPXI-TV that he was appalled when the female students started throwing their bras at him.

School officials began investigating when a parent saw the Facebook photo and complained.


Auditor general wants state to license tattooing

PITTSBURGH — Auditor General Jack Wagner wants the Pennsylvania Department of Health to license and regulate the state's 750 tattoo parlors.

Wagner, a former Pittsburgh City Council president, was in the city for the announcement Tuesday.

He's sent a letter to the health department, Gov. Tom Corbett, state lawmakers and others arguing that the parlors should not only be licensed but be subject to safety and sanitation standards governed by the health department.

Among other things, Wagner is pushing for a law that would require minimum training requirements for tattoo artists, and that they be certified in dealing with blood-borne illnesses, first aid and CPR.

The law as envisioned by Wagner would also require parlors to have liability insurance and would require fines for artists who operate illegally.


Philly girl in political T-shirt flap to transfer

PHILADELPHIA — The father of a 16-year-old Philadelphia girl who says she was mocked by her geometry teacher for wearing a Mitt Romney T-shirt says his children will not be going back to the school.

Samantha Pawlucy briefly returned to Charles Carroll High School in the city's Port Richmond section Tuesday. That's after she says she was mocked last week by her teacher for wearing the shirt supporting the Republican presidential candidate.

But her father, Richard Pawlucy, tells The Philadelphia Inquirer his daughter never actually made it to class. Instead, she went into the school offices following a rally held by her supporters. He says she felt uncomfortable.

He says Samantha and two other high-school age children in his home will be transferring to another school.

The teacher has apologized.


Act 47 team: Pittsburgh finances have recovered

PITTSBURGH — One of two boards that oversee Pittsburgh's finances says the city has recovered enough financially that is should regain control of its budget.

The Act 47 recovery team, which has supervised the city since 2004, said as much in a letter to the state Department of Community and Economic Development, which has the authority to release the city from a financial oversight law governing economically distressed cities.

City spokeswoman Joanna Doven says Mayor Luke Ravenstahl has previously called for an end to oversight of the city's finances.

But even if that happens, the city's finances would still be monitored by a second board, the Intergovernmental Cooperation Authority. The IGA was created by state lawmakers and to provide more oversight, and has the power to approve the city's budget.


Episcopal bishop is retiring at end of year

PHILADELPHIA — The head of the Episcopal Diocese of Pennsylvania is retiring at the end of this year.

Bishop Charles Bennison Jr. was chosen in 1998 to head the Pennsylvania diocese, which is the nation's fifth-largest Episcopal diocese with 53,000 members in Philadelphia and four suburban counties.

Church officials said a provisional bishop will assume the post until Bennison's successor is picked.

Bennison has drawn the ire of church conservatives for his support of gay marriage and gay ordination. The diocesan standing committee had sought his removal for several years, accusing him of misusing diocesan assets.

He was defrocked in 2008 after church officials said he covered up his brother's sexual abuse of a teenage girl, but was reinstated two years later.


Mammoth bones set for museum display

HARRISBURG — Bones from a wooly mammoth found in a northwestern Pennsylvania lake bed 21 years ago will be displayed at the State Museum of Pennsylvania in Harrisburg for one day later this month.

The bones from what is referred to as the Moon Mammoth will be displayed at the museum's Dino Lab Oct. 17 before they're put into storage for scientific study. The remains are so named because they were found in Lake Pleasant in Venango Township by a scuba diver named George Moon.

The Erie Times-News reports Wednesday that the skeleton is one of the most complete of any found in the Great Lakes region. About 80 percent of the prehistoric elephant relative's bones are intact.

The exhibit coincides with National Fossil Day.