The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

November 5, 2012

Midday Briefing | Man sentenced in ex-fiancee assassination plot

Associated Press


A central Pennsylvania man who pleaded guilty to trying to hire a hit man to kill his ex-fiancee claims he would never harm a woman.

Forty-four-year-old Lonnie Deppen was sentenced Monday to seven to 22 years in prison for attempting to have his former girlfriend killed two years ago.

The Intelligencer Journal/Lancaster New Era reports the county judge handling the case called Deppen's claims disturbing.

Police said Deppen, of Ephrata stalked the victim after she ended their relationship, put a GPS tracker on her car, then tried to have her killed. Authorities say an undercover officer posing as a hit man received a photo, a down payment and details about the woman.

Deppen pleaded guilty in July to solicitation of first-degree murder, stalking and other counts.


Information from: Intelligencer Journal/Lancaster New Era ,


Coroner: Man died while clearing storm debris

EMMAUS — A coroner says a Pennsylvania man died while clearing storm debris over the weekend.

The Lehigh County coroner's office says 38-year-old Jerome Tyson died Saturday evening at a hospital following an incident in Upper Milford Township.

The cause and manner of death have not been determined. An autopsy for the New Tripoli man is scheduled for Monday.

Fifteen other deaths have been linked to last week's storm.


Police: Jealousy fueled apartment arson

BRADFORD — Police say jealously prompted a man try to burn down a northwestern Pennsylvania apartment building in July and to succeed in doing so a month later.

Online court records don't list an attorney for 22-year-old Justin Schlopy, of Bradford, who was arraigned then jailed Sunday on charges that he tried to set fire to the two-unit apartment house in July and then succeeded on Aug. 24.

The August fire left nine people homeless and killed eight pets, though no residents and firefighters were hurt.

The Bradford Era reports Monday that Schlopy targeted the building because his ex-girlfriend was living with another man there.

Police say he started the fire by entering their apartment while they were out and setting fire to some clothes and a flammable liquid he put in a garbage can.


Information from: The Bradford Era,


Body of missing boater found

PORTERSVILLE — Authorities have found the body a boater who went missing more than a week ago at a western Pennsylvania lake.

Officials at Moraine State Park say the body of 52-year-old Brian Cornetti was found near the boat launches at Lake Arthur.

Cornetti, of Prospect, disappeared Oct. 26 while raccoon hunting. Police suspect he drowned while trying to retrieve his boat when it drifted away while he was on shore.

Cornetti's empty boat, carrying his life vest, was found a day after he disappeared.


Trial set to start in killing over $20 in drugs

STATE COLLEGE — A Pennsylvania man accused of stabbing another man over $20 in marijuana is scheduled to stand trial this week.

Twenty-two-year-old Tyler Marlatt is charged with first-, second- and third-degree murder as well as robbery and aggravated assault in the Jan. 16 slaying of slaying of 20-year-old Tyler Struble in Lemont.

Authorities in Centre County say Marlatt and others went to Struble's home to claim money from a deal when Marlatt stabbed Struble to death.

Marlatt's girlfriend pleaded guilty to robbery and drug charges.

Marlatt's attorney has said he was acting in self-defense.


Priest accused of taking $380K from parish

BONNEAUVILLE — A central Pennsylvania priest faces charges he stole more than $380,000 from his parish.

Investigator says 52-year-old Father Caesar Belchez transferred more than $190,000 from various accounts at St. Joseph the Worker Parish in Bonneauville to an online stock account and more than $120,000 to a personal account.

The alleged misuse of funds extends to unauthorized credit card charges and church checks made out to Belchez.

Authorities in Adams County say the fraud was discovered by Belchez's successor when he left the church during a regular assignment change.

Belchez was charged last week with two counts of theft and access device fraud. A phone listing for him could not be located Monday.

The Roman Catholic Diocese of Harrisburg says Belchez has been barred from celebrating Mass and other priestly duties.


ACLU says Pa. gives false voter info in Spanish

HARRISBURG — The American Civil Liberties Union is asking Pennsylvania officials to immediately change what it says is false information for first-time voters on its Spanish-language voter-information website.

The ACLU's legal director in Pennsylvania, Vic Walczak, said Monday the website gives incorrect information on the kind of identification that first-time voters must show.

Only voters appearing for the first time in a polling place must show ID, but that includes things such as a bank statement or utility bill.

Walczak says the Spanish-language version website says first-time voters without photo ID must vote on a provisional ballot, which isn't true. He says it also doesn't say what kind of non-photo ID is acceptable.

A spokesman for the Department of State, which regulates elections, says agency officials are looking into it.


Applications begin for Erie's Presque Isle hunt

ERIE — Applications are being taken for 85 hunters in the annual deer hunt at Presque Isle State Park in Erie.

The hunt is scheduled for Dec. 5 through 7.

Hunters will be able to use rifled shotgun slugs, black-powder muzzleloaders and or archery equipment.

Applicants must have a valid Pennsylvania hunting license and an unused Erie County antlerless deer tag to participate. Hunters without a tag will only be allowed to sign up to take an antlered deer.

The Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources holds the hunt to thin the deer herd on the peninsula to keep the park's ecosystem in balance.

The Erie Times-News reports there are as many as 50 deer on the peninsula, but officials would like to keep it under 30.


Information from: Erie Times-News,