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PG News

News Digest

Saturday, March 10, 2001



A Port Authority Transportation spokesman said yesterday that charges have not been filed against trolley operator James Fisher in connection with an accident Thursday that left a Beaver County tow truck driver hospitalized.

Bob Grove said the 2:50 p.m. incident at East Warrington Avenue and Craighead Street in Beltzhoover remains under investigation. He would not release the name of the 52-year-old victim from Industry who suffered a broken leg and was in fair condition at Mercy Hospital.

Woman held for trial

A Terrace Village woman was held for trial Wednesday on charges she had fraudulently obtained $132,581 in state public assistance, medical benefits and federal food stamps over nearly 18 years, ending in December 1999.

The suspect, Lisa Wade, 37, of Bentley Drive in the Hill District, was released on $10,000 bail following her preliminary hearing before McKeesport District Justice Thomas S. Brletic.

The case against Wade is believed to be the largest welfare fraud case ever investigated by the state's office of inspector general. She is charged with unlawfully obtaining $76,979 in Pennsylvania Public Assistance, $34,094 in medical benefits and $21,508 in food stamps between Nov. 1, 1982, and Dec. 31, 1999.

According to testimony, a caseworker received information that Wade was receiving benefits for a son, Ronald, who was not under her care and control. A follow-up investigation showed her son had never lived with her at any time since he was born.


An unidentified elderly man found yesterday lying near a CSX railroad tunnel behind Iron City Brewery in Lawrenceville remained in critical condition at UPMC Presbyterian late yesterday.

Medics and police said the man, whose core body temperature had dropped several degrees below normal, had abrasions.

He was found at 6:45 a.m. and was wearing a flannel shirt, hospital scrubs and socks. Police believe he is between 60 and 70 years old. They said he is very thin, has gray hair and severe arthritis in his legs.


The Black/Jewish Dialogue of Pittsburgh is sponsoring a panel discussion tomorrow on the media's role in race and ethnicity at the Episcopal Church of the Redeemer.

The free program will feature Frank Bolden, former editor of the old Pittsburgh Courier; Tene Croom, news director of the American Urban Radio Network; David Johnson, news anchor for WPXI-TV; and Pittsburgh Post-Gazette columnist Sally Kalson.

Among topics will be the media's handling of stories dealing with racial and ethnic themes.

The Black/Jewish Dialogue of Pittsburgh is a joint subcommittee of the Pittsburgh chapter of the American Jewish Committee and the United Jewish Federation's community relations committee. The program is offered in cooperation with the African American Chamber of Commerce, the Pittsburgh branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and the Urban League of Pittsburgh Inc.

The church is at 5700 Forbes Ave., Squirrel Hill.


As part of an ongoing program to expand the public's awareness of the Baha'i faith, the Pittsburgh Baha'i community is sponsoring a guest speaker and discussion today at the University of Pittsburgh.

Michael Penn, a professor of psychology at Franklin & Marshall College and past academic dean at the Landegg Baha'i Academy in Switzerland, will present an introduction to Baha'i principles.

The Baha'i Faith was founded in 1863 by a Persian nobleman in Iran. Its followers are estimated at 5 million in more than 220 countries and territories.

Baha'is believe in the oneness of God, accept the truth of the basic foundations of the major world religions and are devoted to the principle of oneness of humanity.

Penn's talk will be at the Public Health Auditorium at 7:30 p.m. Admission is free. For details, call 412-630-9175.


A trustee for Teamsters Union Local 249 has been named grand marshal of Pittsburgh's annual St. Patrick's Day parade next Saturday.

James Mullin of Shaler will receive the grand marshal sash following the annual St. Patrick's Mass at 10 a.m. tomorrow in the center ballroom of the Marriott City Center hotel, Uptown. The parade, held annually since at least 1869, has become one of the largest St. Patrick's Day processions in the United States.

Mullin is a truck driver for the H.J. Heinz Co. and a member of the Ancient Order of Hibernians. The parade is sponsored by the Irish Society for Education and Charity and will feature the theme "Marching into the New Millennium."



A jury on Thursday found a Moon woman guilty of participating in a large-scale drug-trafficking operation between New York City and Pittsburgh, according to U.S. Attorney Harry Litman.

From June 1995 to June 1998, Litman said, Linda Lee Chandler, 38, of Newton Square Drive, and her co-conspirators drove regularly from Pittsburgh to New York in vehicles with hidden compartments where she hid tens of thousands of dollars. In New York, Chandler bought cocaine and resold it in Pittsburgh, Litman said. Chandler will be sentenced on June 1.


Two revitalization proposals were presented to commissioners Thursday night.

Both ideas, presented by the Neville Island Development Association, revolve around access to Interstate 79, the availability of good riverfront property, and the combination of residential and industrial areas.

The first plan would use existing facilities to attract a new economic base. The second plan would develop the township as a recreational site to attract visitors to the island and improve the economy.



The verdict in the trial of a Penn Township man accused of sexually molesting a teenage girl was sealed yesterday after the defendant collapsed with chest pains while the jury was deliberating his fate.

Mark Ressler was stricken in the Westmoreland County Courthouse lobby about an hour and a half after his case went to the jury. He was taken to Jeannette District Memorial Hospital, where he was being evaluated last night.

The jury did not know about Ressler's problem and continued to deliberate until it reached a decision in late afternoon.

County park police said Ressler, 41, told them he had a history of heart problems and that he did not have his medication with him when the pains began.

Ressler is accused of molesting a 13-year-old girl several times about four years ago. He is charged with aggravated indecent assault, indecent assault, child endangerment and two counts of corrupting a minor.

"This has never happened to me before," said Common Pleas Judge Richard E. McCormick Jr., who sealed the verdict and placed a gag order on the jury.

McCormick said state law requires that the verdict be announced in the presence of the defendant. He said he will recall the jury when Ressler is a able to appear in court again.

Defense attorney David Caruthers objected to the jury's continued deliberations after Ressler was stricken, but he did not ask for a mistrial.



West Mifflin police and the FBI are investigating a bank robbery that occurred at 2:50 p.m. yesterday at Iron and Glass Bank on Lebanon Church Road.

In the West Mifflin robbery, police are looking for a white male in his late 30s, about 5 feet 9 inches tall, medium to heavy build, wearing a baseball cap, sunglasses and a heavy olive green down jacket, according to FBI spokesman Bill Crowley.

Descriptions of recent area bank robberies, some with photos, are on the Web site



A city couple filed a lawsuit yesterday challenging Allegheny County's decision to assess property at 100 percent of market value this year, based on the results of the reassessment.

In their Common Pleas Court complaint, Kevin and Jennifer Garrett of South Lexington Avenue, Point Breeze, charge that values set as part of the countywide reassessment, as the whole, do not equal 100 percent of sales price.

If allowed to stand, the Garretts, who are appealing their assessment, claim they will pay more than their fair share in taxes because their property value is one that is at 100 percent of sales price.

Others in the same situation also will be harmed, the lawsuit stated.

The couple's attorney, John Silvestri, said he has found areas where the assessments computed by county contractor Sabre Systems and Service range from 80 percent to 88 percent of the 2000 sales price.

The lawsuit is asking a judge to force the county to establish a different ratio based on what percentage assessments are to 2000 sales prices, for use in appeal hearings.

©Copyright 2001, Post-Gazette Publishing

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