Friday, August 28
Prosecutor appeals reversal in GM ignition-related fatality
PITTSBURGH (AP) — A prosecutor is appealing a judge's decision to reverse the involuntary manslaughter conviction of a woman because a faulty General Motors ignition switch.
The Allegheny County district attorney's office said in Superior Court appeal notice Thursday that Lakisha Ward-Green could have refused to plead guilty because the air bag failed to deploy, but chose not to.
The 25-year-old Penn Hills woman pleaded guilty to manslaughter and reckless driving in 2012 and served three months in jail before her attorney appealed citing the GM defect.
Police determined Ward-Green was driving 75 mph in a 35 mph zone before she crashed, killing 16-year-old Robert Chambers IV.
A judge reversed her conviction Wednesday citing a GM recall for ignition switches that unexpectedly turn off, causing the cars to stall and disabling steering, brakes and air bags.
GAS DRILLING REFINERY
Shell Chemicals to pay $485,000 historic preservation
(Information in the following story is from: Beaver County Times, http://www.timesonline.com/)
MONACA, Pa. (AP) — Shell Chemicals is paying $485,000 to various agencies for historic preservation purposes in western Pennsylvania as it considers whether to build a petrochemical plant there.
A spokesman for the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission tells the Beaver County Times that Shell is giving the money to offset losses or damage as it cleans up the site of a former zinc-smelting plant and poor house.
More than $7 million more could be coming to groups as well if a proposed ethane cracker plant ends up being built. Most of that money would go to the Historical and Museum Commission to create an online data management system, including the digitization of more than 7 million pages of paper data it is currently storing.
Pennsylvania lighter maker to pay $186K for violations
(Information in the following story is from: The Bradford Era, http://www.bradfordera.com)
BRADFORD, Pa. (AP) — Zippo, the Pennsylvania maker of iconic cigarette lighters best known for their distinctive metal cases, has agreed to pay $186,000 to settle allegations it violated federal hazardous waste laws.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency said this week that Zippo Manufacturing Co.'s alleged violations included reporting and storage practices at its Bradford facility.
Zippo spokesman Jeff Duke tells the Bradford Era that the violations were mainly clerical in nature. He says employees were unaware that reporting requirements had changed and that equipment they were using was no longer approved by regulators.
Duke says there were no issues with chemicals being released or toxic materials spilled. A contractor working for the EPA discovered an unpermitted evaporator or thermal treatment unit in use at the company's facility.
The evaporator has been removed.
CD shop owner accused in $2M scheme with shoplifting addicts
PITTSBURGH (AP) — A Pittsburgh record store owner is accused of using heroin addicts to shoplift more than $2 million worth of books, videos, and other products he resold online.
Fifty-year-old Anthony Cicero's defense attorney didn't immediately comment Thursday on charges including running a corrupt organization filed by the Pennsylvania's attorney general's office.
According to a grand jury presentment, the East Pittsburgh man stored stolen items in the back room of his Slipped Disc record store, which is located in Oakland, a trendy Pittsburgh neighborhood home to The University of Pittsburgh and Carnegie Mellon University.
The investigation stretches back to 2008, when a Barnes & Noble investigator began tracing about $30,000 a week in stolen items to the addicts allegedly employed by Cicero.
Worker awarded $586,860 in religious discrimination suit
CLARKSBURG, W.Va. (AP) — A judge has awarded more than $586,000 in pay and benefits to a retired CONSOL Energy worker who had accused the company of religious discrimination.
U.S. District Judge Frederick Stamp Jr. also prohibited CONSOL and a former subsidiary, Consolidation Coal Co., from committing similar acts in the future.
Stamp's recent ruling came in a 2013 lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. The lawsuit said Beverly Butcher was forced to retire after the companies began using biometric hand scans in 2012 at a mine in Mannington.
The lawsuit said the companies refused to consider alternatives after Butcher told company officials that the hand scans violated his religious beliefs.
In January, a federal jury awarded $150,000 in compensatory damages to Butcher.
Murray Energy bought Consolidation Coal in late 2014.
Strapped city on hook for mayor's $900,000 in legal bills
(Information in the following story is from: Reading Eagle, http://www.readingeagle.com/)
READING, Pa. (AP) — A financially strapped Pennsylvania city is on the hook for nearly $900,000 in legal bills to defend its mayor against charter and ethics complaints.
Thursday's Reading Eagle reports the Duane Morris law firm has billed Reading's city government $719,000 for Vaughn Spencer's three charter cases and $178,725 for the ethics case.
Charter board lawyers have also billed the city $297,000. The board ruled Spencer violated rules by hiring employees without city council approval, but an appeals court overturned the decision.
In the pending ethics case, Spencer is accused of awarding city contracts to members of his campaign without going through the normal bidding process.
All of the cases stem from 2012.
FBI agents searched Spencer's home and Reading city hall in July. He hasn't been charged with a crime.