Federal judge orders over $600k seized from Westmoreland County doctor who is charged with drug crimes

By Amanda Klein | March 15, 2019

A Westmoreland County physician who was indicted last year by a federal grand jury on drug and money laundering charges lost $605,414 to the federal government earlier this month when a federal judge granted a prosecutor’s forfeiture request.

U.S. District Judge Joy Flowers Conti granted the request, ruling that the money was obtained from the sale of illegal drugs.

Mamdouh El-Attrache, 67, is one of three Westmoreland County doctors who were charged last year with prescribing pain medication to patients who did not legitimately need them.

On Oct. 2 Milad Shaker, 49, of Greensburg, was charged with distributing Vicodin, Percocet and Tramado in return for sexual favors provided to him either physically or by text messaging from 2014 through 2017.

Dr. Nabil Jabbour, 67, of Hempfield, was indicted on Sept. 28 with unlawfully dispensing buprenorphine, also known as Suboxone or Subutex, a drug used to treat opioid addiction.

El-Attrache allegedly “routinely accepted cash payments from patients in exchange for illegally prescribing hydrocodone, fentanyl, methadone and buprenorphine outside the usual course of professional practice and not for a legitimate medical purpose,” according to a court document.

Judge Conti said in her ruling that officials will have to wait until El-Attrache’s plea hearing, which is scheduled for June 19, to actually take possession of the funds

Amanda Klein can be contacted at amanda.klein@grantstreetnews.com

 

Police: Lower Burrell man on drugs assaults and robs woman then asks police to shoot him

By Terri Hill | March 14, 2019

A Lower Burrell man is accused of robbing and assaulting a woman late Wednesday and when confronted by police he demanded that officers shoot him.

Robert E. Brown, 48, faces charges of robbery, aggravated assault, burglary, trespassing, receiving stolen property, terroristic threats, simple assault, indecent exposure, criminal mischief, open lewdness and public drunkenness.

A caller reported to 911 around 11:30 p.m. that a naked man was assaulting a woman on Leechburg Road, according to police.

Police wrote in a criminal complaint that a witness said Brown yelled and screamed at the woman claiming he knew her from an incident that occurred when he was a child. The woman told police that she did not know Brown and had never met him before Wednesday’s incident. Police said he ripped the woman’s sweatshirt from her and fled the area.

Brown was spotted by police a short time later sitting on the porch of a vacant house and was naked from the waist down, but was wearing the woman’s sweatshirt, police said in the complaint.

As police approached him, Brown yelled “Just shoot me in the back of the head and end it,” then jumped up, kicked in the front door and ran into the empty house.

A short time later Brown complied with police requests and came out of the house and was arrested and handcuffed, the complaint said.

After police put Brown in the back of a police car he kicked and slammed his body into the cage and accused multiple people of molesting him, police said in the complaint.

Brown told police that he had recently smoked PCP, marijuana and meth, according to the complaint. He was taken to Allegheny Valley Hospital in Harrison where he will undergo a mental health evaluation.

The woman suffered scrapes and scratches to her hands and knee. She declined medical attention.

Terri Hill can be contacted at terri.hill@grantstreetnews.com

County police seek 17-year-old in connection with 2 armed robberies

By Steve Pope | March 14, 2019

Allegheny County Police have issued an arrest warrant for a 17-year-old male in connection with a pair of robberies that occurred on March 11.

Police identified Chad Robinson, as one of two individuals involved in the armed robbery of a convenience store and gas station on Monday.

The first robbery happened around 3:15 a.m. at a 7-Eleven/Exxon station on James Street in Turtle Creek. Police said the two men who were wearing masks walked into the store and made off with about $600. One of the men displayed two handguns during the robbery.

turtle-creek-robbery-2
A photo of one of the two men who are suspected of robbing the 7-Eleven. | Allegheny County Police photo

The second robbery occurred at the BP gas station on Frankstown Road in Penn Hills  just after 4:30 a.m. Police say one of the men was armed with a handgun. The suspects fled the store with about $300.

No injuries were reported in either incident.

Robinson has been charged as an adult with two counts of robbery, two counts of recklessly endangering another person, and two counts of conspiracy. He is not currently in custody.

Robinson is approximately 5’8” tall with a slender build. He has ties to the Wilkinsburg, Homewood, and Turtle Creek areas, according to police.  Anyone with information concerning the whereabouts of Robinson should call the Allegheny County Police Tipline at 1-833-ALL-TIPS (1-833-255-8477).

Steve Pope can be contacted at steve.pope@grantstreetnews.com

Convicted felon sentenced to 4 years in federal prison for possessing 2 stolen handguns

By Amanda Klein | March 14, 2019

A Pittsburgh man was sentenced in federal court on Thursday to four years in prison, to be followed by three years of  supervised release for possession of a firearm by a convicted felon, according to United States Attorney Scott W. Brady.

LaRon Hollaman, 29, received his sentence from United States District Judge Cathy Bissoon who said that Hollaman must serve this sentence consecutive to any state parole
violation.

Court documents allege that on May 6, 2017 Hollaman was stopped by a Robinson Township police officer at a GetGo gas station after he observed Hollaman engage in suspicious drug activity in the parking lot of a nearby hotel.

When the officer asked Hollaman for his license and car registration he responded “I just did six up at State,” referring to serving time at a state prison.

Hollaman told the police officer “There are two guns loaded underneath the front passenger seat,” prosecutors said.

After removing Hollaman from the car and handcuffing him, police found two loaded Glock pistols which were reported stolen from a home in Pittsburgh.

At the time of his arrest Hollaman was on parole for a carjacking and two weapons convictions.  He has an extensive criminal past that includes arrests for illegal drug possession as well as assault.

Amanda Klein can be contacted at amanda.klein@grantstreetnews.com

 

Pittsburgh man to serve 8 years in federal prison for hiring DEA informant to kill his wife

By Steve Pope | March 13, 2019

A Pittsburgh man was sentenced to eight years in prison and three years of supervised release on Wednesday for hiring a DEA informant to kill his wife so that he could take control of her marijuana farm in California.

According to court documents and information presented in court, Brad Lanese, 52, and two associates – identified as C.B and his wife, L.D., ran a large marijuana grow operation in Northern California.  In September 2017 Lanese was asked to leave the couple’s home after they became estranged.

Lanese returned to Pittsburgh and contacted an informant for the Drug Enforcement Administration and requested that he return to California with him in order to rob his wife and C.B.

On Oct. 31, 2017, Lanese and the informant traveled to California. The next day, Lanese was introduced to “Deeds,” another DEA informant who was supposed to supply the gun used in the robbery.

During the meeting Lanese told “Deeds” that he no longer wanted to rob C.B., but wanted “Deeds” to murder his wife instead. Lanese requested that “Deeds” kill his wife by injecting her with a fatal dose of a heroin/fentanyl mix in the marijuana fields, and then push her body and car over the cliffs and into the Pacific Ocean, prosecutors said.

Lanese told “Deeds” that once his wife was dead, he would be able to return to the marijuana grow operation and pay “Deeds” $30,000 for the murder.

On Dec. 8, 2017, Lanese was arrested by DEA agents and police at his home in Brookline.

On Oct. 31 Lanese pleaded guilty to one count of using interstate commerce facilities in connection with a murder for hire plot.

Steve Pope can be contacted at steve.pope@grantstreetnews.com

 

Elderly Jeannette man charged with possessing scores of child pornography images

By Amanda Klein | March 13, 2019

State authorities charged a 75-year-old Jeannette man on Wednesday with possession of child pornography images on his computer.

House is charged with child pornography, dissemination of child sex acts and criminal use of a communication facility

Agents with the attorney general’s office said in a criminal complaint that when Curtis Lamar House was questioned about the images, he told them that be didn’t understand why possession of pornography is illegal.

House told agents that possessing pornography wasn’t illegal “because he didn’t think anyone was getting hurt,” the complaint said.

House downloaded over 30 child pornography images onto his computer by using a peer-to-peer sharing network.  Police were able to determine that House was downloading the images by tracking the IP address used to his home, authorities said in the complaint.

House was being held in the Westmoreland County Prison after he failed to post a $150,000 bond. He is scheduled to appear for an April 18 preliminary hearing.

Amanda Klein can be contacted at amanda.klein@grantstreetnews.com

6 men and 6 women selected for Rosfeld jury

By Steve Pope | March 13, 2019

A jury composed of six men and six women will decide the fate of Michael Rosfeld who is charged with last year’s shooting-death of Antwon Rose during a high-risk traffic stop in East Pittsburgh.

The final jurors were selected Wednesday morning in Dauphin County after Common Pleas Judge Alexander P. Bicket granted a change of venue request.

Rosfeld is charged in the June 19 death of the 17-year-old  as he fled from a car that was suspected in a drive by shooting a short time before the traffic stop.

The jury is made up of six men and six women, including one black male and two black females.

The makeup of the jury includes:

A middle-aged white male who is a construction worker

A 26-year-old married white male who is a state employee

A 41-year-old white male who works in a bar

A 66-year-old white male who is a retired railroad worker

A 39-year-old white female who is a former librarian whose father spent 25 years in law enforcement

A 35-year-old white female who has three children who works as a customer service representative

A black female who works in the social services field and whose partner of six years is retired from the Pennsylvania State Police

A 27-year-old white female who works as a data analyst

A 52-year-old white male who works as an insurance adjuster

A white female with two adult children who said she knows nothing about the case

A 55-year-old black female who works as a virtual Comcast customer service representative.

The four alternates are three men and one woman. All 16 will be bused to Allegheny County on Monday for the Tuesday morning start of the trial.

Steve Pope can be contacted at steve.pope@grantstreetnews.com

 

Former Pittsburgh cop pleads guilty to lying to FBI agents about bank robbery

By Steve Pope | March 12, 2019

A former Pittsburgh police officer pleaded guilty in federal court on Tuesday to charges of lying to FBI agents who were investigating the Jan. 8, 2018 robbery of the Citizens Bank in Crafton

Antoine Cain, 49, of Pittsburgh, pleaded guilty to two counts of making false statements to government agents.

Federal agents interviewed Cain on July 27 and again on July 31 concerning the robbery.  Agents learned that Cain had been involved in a seven-year, on-again, off-again, relationship with a woman identified as Melissa Kane.

Authorities learned that Kane was the mother of Brent Richards, who authorities said was the lead suspect in the robbery.

Cain told federal agents during the interviews that he did not know the identity of the individual who had robbed the Bank, when in fact he did, court documents allege.

On Sept. 18, after agents told Cain that they had information indicating that he knew who robbed the bank, Cain admitted that he lied to authorities during his two previous interviews.

Cain told the agents that Brent Richards, who Cain knew through his relationship with Kane, had committed the robbery.

Prosecutors allege that Cain told the agents that Richards told him that he had “hit” a bank, which Cain understood to mean that he had committed the robbery.

Cain also admitted that Kane told him that Richards had robbed the bank, wearing a mask and using a BB gun.

Cain’s sentencing is scheduled for July 2 before Senior U.S. District Judge Arthur J. Schwab.  He faces up to five years in prison, a fine of not more than $250,000, or both.

Steve Pope can be contacted at steve.pope@grantstreetnews.com

Pittsburgh police are finalizing preparations for St. Patrick’s Day

By Amanda Klein | March 12, 2019

The Pittsburgh Public Safety Department is making preparations for the St. Patrick’s Day parade and celebrations scheduled for Saturday.

Police officers will be on the lookout for drunk drivers and are urging those who consume alcohol to plan ahead and take advantage of the many discounted Lyft, Uber and Z-Trip fares that are being offered.

State Police, County Police, the Mounted Unit, police agencies from local universities and other public safety partners will be out in full force to prevent and stop illegal activities, and will cite or arrest those who violate laws.

“Please remember there will be zero tolerance for disruptive and illegal behavior,” Public Safety Director Wendell Hissrich said. “Liquor Control Enforcement agents will be undercover to assure that bars and restaurants don’t serve alcohol to those under 21,” he added.

To help commemorate the celebration, Pittsburgh Bureau of Police vehicles in Zone 2, which includes Downtown, will display special St Patrick’s Day decals.

According to a newly enacted city ordinance open containers of alcohol will not be permitted in Market Square. Businesses on the square will serve alcohol as usual, but patrons cannot leave the businesses and/or patios with drinks.

Some Downtown streets will be closed starting at 7:30 a.m. along the parade route, which includes Liberty Avenue, Grant Street, the Boulevard of the Allies and Stanwix Street. The parade will form on Liberty Avenue from 11th to 26th streets. Streets will reopen at approximately 1 p.m.

The City of Pittsburgh’s Public Safety Department wishes all a happy and safe St. Patrick’s Day.

Amanda Klein can be contacted at amanda.klein@grantstreetnews.com

Munhall man headed to federal prison for stealing mail, packages from apartment buildings

By Terri Hill March 12, 2019

For stealing packages and mail from several apartment buildings in Pittsburgh, a Munhall man will serve the next 1½ years in federal prison.
According to court documents in the case, Christopher Carr and his co-defendant Ron Matthew Sharp took more than 40 packages from several apartment buildings in the Shadyside and North Oakland neighborhoods last year.

Prosecutors say the two men stuffed the stolen mail and packages in trash bags, duffel bags, and backpacks.

Numerous gift cards were included in the items that the pair took from the mail. The two men gave the cards to others, who redeemed them at various locations, including Giant Eagle and GetGo.

The men along with others re-sold other items they had stolen from packages left at the apartment buildings, according to court documents.

After he is released from prison Carr will be on probation for three years.

Terri Hill can be contacted at terri.hill@grantstreetnews.com