Latest Pennsylvania news, sports, business and entertainment


Philly-area couple charged with child endangerment

LINWOOD, Pa. (AP) — Two suburban Philadelphia parents are charged with child endangerment after police say their 5- and 7-year-old daughters were found malnourished in a filthy home.

Carole and Vincent McDonald of Upper Chichester Township were being held in Delaware County prison after failing to post bail. They're charged with child endangerment and related counts.

County caseworkers opened an investigation in August after reports the 7-year-old girl was found dirty and running around alone in the township.

Police and caseworkers said they removed the girls from the home Tuesday after finding them hungry and covered in bug bites in a home unfit for human habitation.

The children were taken to a local hospital and were later released to the county department of Children and Youth Services.


West Texas attorney denies money was drug-related

EL PASO, Texas (AP) — A West Texas lawyer and former Carnegie Mellon University trustee on trial on charges he conspired to launder hundreds of millions of dollars in drug money is denying he ever knew that funds he handled were from illegal activity.

Marco Antonio Delgado testified Thursday after prosecutors rested their case earlier in the day. He's accused of scheming to launder up to $600 million for a Mexican drug cartel in 2007 and 2008.

Agents have previously testified that after Delgado was arrested with $1 million, he confessed and agreed to cooperate but continued moving drug money behind his handlers' backs.

But Delgado testified he didn't find out the money he was handling was drug-related until after his arrest in 2012.

His trial is in its fourth day.


Nov. 12 hearing set on W. Pa. Obamacare challenge

PITTSBURGH (AP) — A federal judge has scheduled a Nov. 12 hearing on the Roman Catholic Diocese of Pittsburgh's challenge to looming federal health care reforms requiring contraceptive and abortion coverage in employee health plans.

U.S. District Judge Arthur Schwab on Thursday told attorneys for the diocese and the Justice Department that he wants to hear testimony about what happens if the church and its related entities, including Catholic Charities, don't abide by the mandates.

The Justice Department contends the church, itself, is exempt and that its charitable affiliates can be accommodated so they don't have to pay for the coverage. But church attorneys argue it would violate their beliefs if the church or its affiliates play even an indirect role in providing such coverage for employees.

Schwab plans to rule before the mandate takes effect Jan. 1.


80 year sentence in NJ murders of 2 Canadians

MAYS LANDING, N.J. (AP) — A homeless woman who admitted fatally stabbing two Canadian tourists in Atlantic City, N.J., during an attempted street robbery last year has been sentenced to 80 years in prison.

Forty-five-year-old Antoinette Pelzer was convicted of two counts of murder in the deaths of 80-year-old Po Lin Wan and her daughter, 47-year-old Alice Mei See Leung.

The two women were from the Toronto area.

Pelzer is a former Philadelphia resident. Her family had said she was mentally ill but The Press of Atlantic City reported tests did not support an insanity defense.

She pleaded guilty in August and was given two consecutive 40-year terms on Thursday.

The daytime stabbings, with a 12-inch butcher knife, occurred in the heart of the resort city's new tourism district.


Pa. women charged with locking up kids at night

WILLIAMSTOWN, Pa. (AP) — Two central Pennsylvania women are charged with endangering two children in their care by locking one in her bedroom and shackling the other to his dresser at night.

Dauphin County prosecutors said 30-year-old Mary Theresa Sekula and 33-year-old Leeann Nicole Alberts repeatedly handcuffed the leg of Sekula's 7-year-old son to a dresser and padlocked his 11-year-old sister in her attic bedroom.

State police began investigating Tuesday after the boy spoke to officials at his school. Authorities said he had a visible injury on his ankle.

Court documents said both women admitted locking up the kids so they wouldn't leave the house at night.

Sekula and Alberts are due in court Nov. 19 for a preliminary hearing. It wasn't known if they had attorneys.


Some Pa. lawmakers threatened over taxes

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) — Some Pennsylvania lawmakers received threats or were lampooned in recent weeks following action on bills to reduce or eliminate school property taxes.

Rep. Kerry Benninghoff, the House Finance Committee chairman, told The York Dispatch in a story published Thursday he received threatening letters and his daughters received a threatening postcard from property-tax critics.

No one is taking responsibility, but the Centre County Republican says he's gotten pressure from supporters of a bill to replace school property taxes with higher state income and sales taxes.

Benninghoff's committee recently took no action on the bill but endorsed a competing measure to allow districts to enact new taxes in place of property taxes.

A recently circulated Wild West-style flyer identified Benninghoff and some other committee members as "wanted" for "seizure of property."


Philly man on trial in ambush that killed 3 teens

PHILADELPHIA (AP) — A prosecutor says a Philadelphia man opened fire on a car crammed with teenagers, killing three of them, after months of feuding with the family.

Prosecutors will seek the death penalty if a jury convicts Axel Barreto in last year's slaying of two 14-year-olds and a 16-year-old.

Both sides agree that Barreto fired on the car, but the defense says he fired in self-defense while prosecutors say the teens were driving away.

Authorities say the gunfire followed months of fights and threats, some of it online, between the teens in the car and another group that included Barreto's stepson.

The case prompted Mayor Michael Nutter to complain about parental responsibility. He asked why the seven teens in the car were out looking for a fight on a school night.


Man charged in wild chase enters Pa. burglary plea

(Information in the following story is from: The (Easton, Pa.) Express-Times, )

ALLENTOWN, Pa. (AP) — A man accused of leading police in two states on a drug-fueled chase involving stolen police cars has been sentenced to serve 14 months to five years in prison for an unrelated eastern Pennsylvania burglary.

The Express-Times said a Lehigh County judge Thursday went beyond the recommended sentencing guidelines for the August 2012 Macungie break-in after 25-year-old Blake Bills called the burglary victim's tearful court statement "dramatic" and "over the top."

The judge said he planned to sentence Bills to six to 14 months in prison but those comments changed his mind.

Bills still faces trial stemming from the March 5 police chase in Philadelphia and Camden, N.J.

His girlfriend Shana Sykes was sentenced last month to three to eight years in prison in that case.


Pa. woman charged with arson that injured 4 people

EASTON, Pa. (AP) — A woman has been charged with intentionally setting a fire in northeastern Pennsylvania that injured four people, left seven families homeless and destroyed a business.

Police say 31-year-old Fallonn Craig of Easton has confessed to setting the fire to the building in Forks Township as a result of a domestic incident. She is charged with arson and risking a catastrophe.

The blaze broke out around 1 p.m. Tuesday along Route 611 in Forks Township, Northampton County. The building houses the Mineral Springs Hotel and includes a bar and restaurant with upstairs apartments.

Craig will be held on $250,000 bail at Northampton County Prison when she's discharged from the hospital.

Police say she lived with her boyfriend in an apartment above the Mineral Springs Bar and was hurt in the blaze.


Pittsburgh stages its first pierogi festival

PITTSBURGH (AP) — It's hard to say why it's taken this pierogi-loving city so long, but Pittsburgh is finally giving the little stuffed balls of dough their own festival.

Organizers say the 1st Annual Pierogi (peer-OH'-gee)Fest is scheduled for Saturday, Oct. 26 at Pittsburgh's downtown Riverfront Park, from 12 to 5 p.m.

The festival is free, but vendors charge for food. The event will feature nearly a dozen pierogi vendors or restaurants, one of which will reportedly offer a sweet-potato pierogi. There will also be live entertainment, children's activities, and a pop-up pierogi market selling everything from pierogi T-shirts to jewelry.

Pierogies are a traditional eastern European food similar to a dumpling.