BELLEFONTE (AP) – A man who claims former Penn State assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky abused him as a teen will have a court hearing in October in his efforts to force state prosecutors to file criminal charges. The now-43-year-old man last month appealed the state attorney general’s decision not to file a criminal complaint against Sandusky. The man met with state prosecutors in April, and was told the 1988 allegations were too old under the statute of limitations. But the man says changes to the statute of limitations in 2002 and 2006 should permit the charges now. Sandusky’s attorney says the former coach denies molesting the man at a football camp on the Penn State campus. Sandusky’s accuser was 16 then.
HARRISBURG (AP) – A Friday deadline looms for Gov. Tom Wolf, who has until then to sign a Republican-crafted public pension reform bill or let it become law without his signature. Wolf’s office said that the deadline is 11:59 p.m. Friday. Democrats expect Wolf to veto the pension bill, which would end the traditional defined pension benefit for most newly hired state workers and school employees, shifting them to a 401(k)-style defined-contribution plan. The Democrat governor has already vetoed other major GOP bills, including a $30.2 billion no-new-taxes state budget plan and the privatization of the state-controlled sales of liquor and wine. Wolf met with the House and Senate’s Republican leaders Monday to discuss the stalemate that’s left the state government with limited spending authority since last week. No additional meetings were planned. Republican leaders told Wolf that his veto of a budget plan puts politics above governing and that it’s up to him to produce an alternative that lawmakers will support.
HARRISBURG – Although no cases of avian influenza have been reported by Pennsylvania’s poultry industry, the state is preparing to act should an outbreak of the disease occur here. The latest avian flu outbreak has wiped out 50 million birds across the country and appears to be headed this way, according to Berks County Sen. Judy Schwank, the Democrat chairman of the Senate Agriculture and Rural Affairs Committee. State agriculture officials have formed a task force and have been working since February to monitor the situation and map preparedness plans. Part of the planning includes steps for depopulation and biosecurity measures and increasing state surveillance and monitoring efforts. Because of the avian influenza outbreak, there will be no avian shows at any of the state’s 109 fairs or at the 2016 Pennsylvania Farm Show next January.
ELIZABETHTOWN (AP) – A Lancaster County district judge who chairs the entity that investigates misconduct allegations against Pennsylvania judges is not hearing criminal cases while prosecutors probe her handling of a man’s traffic citations. The investigation of Elizabethtown District Judge Jayne Duncan involves three traffic offenses for which another judge, filling in for Duncan, found the man guilty in May. The Lancaster County district attorney claims in a filing that during a subsequent hearing the man pleaded guilty to inspection and emissions violations and that an illegal window tinting citation was dropped. A court official says the county’s president judge reassigned her criminal cases. Her lawyer tells the Elizabethtown Advocate the senior judge filling in for Duncan didn’t complete paperwork, so the matter was rescheduled. Duncan chairs the state Judicial Conduct Board.
LANCASTER – A Lancaster shooting suspect was arrested by police. 25-year-old Denise Heckstall of Lancaster was taken into custody yesterday in Halifax, North Carolina. Efforts are underway to return Heckstall to Lancaster. She is accused of the June 27th shooting of a 25-year-old Lancaster woman outside of Hoffman Terrace, off of the 200 block of W. Mifflin Street. Heckstall was charged with criminal attempt to commit homicide, aggravated assault and persons not to possess, use, manufacture, control, sell or transfer firearms.
LANCASTER (AP) – A man accused of drag racing another driver before a crash that killed a Philadelphia woman and her three young sons has pleaded guilty. 32-year-old Ahmen Holloman of Philadelphia was sentenced to five to 10 years in state prison following his plea Monday to four counts of vehicular homicide. Authorities say he was racing 24-year-old Khusen Akhmedov of Lancaster as the mother and her children were crossing Roosevelt Boulevard on foot in July 2013. Jury selection is scheduled to begin today in the trial of the Akhmedov, who is charged with third-degree murder, vehicular homicide, involuntary manslaughter, and other counts. Authorities say he fatally struck 27-year-old Samara Banks and her three sons.
HARRISBURG (AP) – The Wolf Administration and top lawmakers are expected to resume talking as state government starts its new fiscal year with limited spending authority because the sides did not reach agreement on budget legislation. Today’s talks were expected to be staff level. Last week, Gov. Tom Wolf vetoed a Republican-backed budget proposal and a bill to privatize the state-controlled system of liquor and wine sales. He’s also expected to veto a GOP public pension reform plan. Leaders of the GOP-controlled Legislature went ahead with the bills after talks with the Wolf Administration stalled last month. While state employees may be paid, the Wolf Administration no longer has the authority to pay many vendors, including counties and non-profit organizations that help administer the state’s social-services safety net.
HARRISBURG – PA Attorney General Kathleen Kane announced the terms of a multi-state settlement that will allow Dollar Tree to proceed with its acquisition of Family Dollar stores. The settlement comes in the form of a consent judgment that was reached after 17 states, including Pennsylvania, filed a lawsuit challenging the merger of the companies. The lawsuit asserted competition would be substantially reduced if the merger of Dollar Tree and Family Dollar went through as originally proposed. As part of the settlement, Dollar Tree is now required to sell 330 Family Dollar stores to a new competitor. The stores are expected to be sold to Sycamore Partners and remain deep discount stores under the new brand Dollar Express. Kane expressed concern that the merger as initially proposed would have created substantially less competition in 13 areas across Pennsylvania. As part of the settlement, Kane required 19 stores in those areas to be sold. In addition, Dollar Tree will be required to report or notify the Attorney General’s office of future acquisitions, store relocations or closings in the state.
PENN TOWNSHIP – A fatal hit and run in Lancaster County has led to an arrest. 21-year-old Dominic Stitely was walking near his home along the 1900 block of Locust Grove Road in Penn Township Saturday evening when he was struck by a Jeep. Several witnesses saw what happened and recognized the driver, who fled the scene. Authorities identified the driver as 37-year-old Orlando Ortiz of Lancaster, who was arrested Sunday and charged with one count of criminal homicide. He was taken to Lancaster County Prison. According to the criminal complaint, Stitely and Ortiz knew each other and had been together at the time when Ortiz accelerated his vehicle while Stitely was in front of it.
WEST YORK (AP) – Police say two men have been charged as part of a crew that allegedly stole more than $3,000 in coins from vending machines in York County. There have been eight thefts from Continental Vending Services’ machines in six jurisdictions since June 19. Police arrested Robert Hein and Daniel Smeltzer in the thefts. Authorities say Smeltzer was in possession of vending machine keys and admitted to at least five of the thefts. Hein allegedly told police he would drive Smeltzer to locations where the thefts would be committed. Investigators were able to use surveillance footage to track an SUV used in one of the thefts.