Westmoreland County man pleads guilty to child predator charges

By Steve Pope | February 26, 2019

A Westmoreland County man pleaded guilty Tuesday to felony charges of attempting to have sexual contact with a 14-year-old, according to Attorney General Josh Shapiro.

Kelly Harrington, 48, pleaded guilty to felony charges of unlawful contact with a minor, criminal attempt and criminal use of a communication facility in connection with a June 2018 incident where he solicited an undercover agent posing as a minor for sex.

According to court documents, Harrington had an online conversation with the agent and despite being told he was communicating with a 14-year-old, he continued to pursue a conversation with the agent.

Harrington solicited the agent for unlawful sexual contact and arranged to meet the agent, according to a criminal complaint.

“My office is committed to protecting children from abuse and will prosecute anyone we find attempting to prey on minors to the fullest extent of the law,” Attorney General Josh Shapiro said. “This predator made arrangements to meet up with someone he believed was only 14 years old. Thanks to the relentless work of our agents and prosecutors, he is being held accountable for his illegal actions.”

A sentencing date will be scheduled 90 days after the presentence investigation is completed.

The Office of Attorney General’s Child Predator Section has made 179 arrests since January 2017 when Attorney General Shapiro was sworn into office.

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

Defense attorney for Westmoreland County Sheriff asks appeal court to dismiss corruption case

By Terri Hill | February 23, 2019

An attorney representing Westmoreland County Sheriff Jonathan Held who is awaiting retrial on public corruption charges is asking that the case be dismissed.

According to a court document filed last week, defense attorney Ryan Tutera has filed an appeal to the Superior Court alleging that prosecutors failed to prove Held’s guilt during his three-day trial in December.

Held is facing a retrial on a felony charge of conflict of interest and a misdemeanor count of theft related to allegations that he directed sheriff’s department staffers to perform work on his re-election bid in 2015 while they were on duty for the county.

A mistrial was declared when jurors were unable to reach a unanimous verdict.

In addition to alleging that there was not enough evidence produced during the trial to find Held guilty, Tutera is also alleging that the trial judge failed to ask six jurors whether or not they voted to find Held guilty, after a male juror announced he had changed his vote from guilty to not guilty.

Instead of continuing to ask each juror what their vote was, the judge ordered the jury to resume deliberations.

Less than an hour later a mistrial was declared when it was determined that a unanimous verdict could not be reached.

Held’s retrial was scheduled to begin in April, but is expected to be delayed until the appeal is decided, which could take over a year.

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

Police charge sex offender with having sex with boy 17 and sending nude photos to 14-year-old boy

By Terri Hill | February 19, 2019

A 36-year-old woman from South Connellsville who is also a registered sex offender is accused of having sex with a 17-year-old boy and sending another 14-year-old boy nude photographs, according to police.

Crystal Shannon Shroyer, faces charges of statutory sexual assault and dissemination of explicit material to a minor, online court records say.

In late 2018 Shroyer had sex with the 17-year-old after she drove him to a dam, police alleged in a criminal complaint.

Police also alleged in the filing that the 14-year-old boy told them that Shroyer sent him three pictures, including one that shows her breasts, after the two engaged in sex. The boy told police that Shroyer performed a sex act on him at her home.

In 2016 Shroyer was sentenced to one to two years in prison after she pleaded no contest to statutory sexual assault and corruption of minors, according to court records.

Police said that the boy who had been dating Shroyer’s daughter ran away from home and stayed at Shroyer’s residence. She admitted to having sexual intercourse with the boy.

According to court documents in the case Shroyer and the boy also smoked marijuana and consumed alcohol. As a result of that conviction, Shroyer is required to register as a sex offender.

Shroyer is currently in the Fayette County Prison in lieu of posting a $25,000 bond.  Her preliminary hearing has not been scheduled.

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

Jeannette man who threw away kittens during chase facing additional charges

By Steve Pope | February 18, 2019

Greensburg police have tacked on 10 additional charges in addition to those a 37-year-old Jeannette man is facing in connection with last week’s police chase that ended with the man crashing into a utility pole.

Police say Thomas Campbell discarded five tiny kittens during the chase that were stuffed in a backpack.  They are now safe at a Greensburg animal shelter, according to authorities.

The chase began shortly after 1:45 p.m. Wednesday when a detective began questioning Campbell about a series of thefts from the Gander Outdoors store in Greensburg. Authorities allege in a court document that Campbell was captured by store surveillance cameras stealing 19 packages of razor-sharp archery blades valued at $1,000 and a trail camera valued at $230.

Campbell fled in a Jeep and crashed into a utility pole about one mile down the road. Police found him hiding in a crawl space beneath a mobile home.

In addition to the animal cruelty and fleeing from police charges, Campbell is facing burglary, theft and entering an unoccupied structure charges, as well as multiple traffic violations.  He is also facing retail theft charges in connection with a September incident.

He is currently being held on $75,000 bond at the Westmoreland County Prison.

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

 

Police: McDonald’s clerk stole over $10k by failing to make deposits

By Amanda Klein | February 15, 2019

State police have accused a Cambria County woman with stealing over $10,000 from a McDonald’s restaurant where she works.

According to a criminal complaint, Cheryl Anne Dahmen, 33, took $10,844 belonging to the restaurant instead of depositing it in the bank.

She is facing two theft charges, according to online court records.

Police allege in the complaint that instead making three days worth of deposits in January, Dahmen kept the money.

On Jan. 24 the restaurant’s owner told a state trooper that the deposits were not made. Under questioning by police Dahmen gave varying accounts of what happened to the missing money.

Dahmen said she forgot to make the deposits and then said the money was either lost or stolen, the complaint said.

Dahmen then told police she planned to try to cover up the missing money by altering deposit slips and planned on replacing the money later.

Dahmen was released from jail on a $10,000 unsecured bond. Her preliminary hearing is scheduled for March 1.

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

Retired Pittsburgh firefighter admits his role in 20 year cocaine trafficking conspiracy

By Terri Hill | February 14, 2019

A retired Pittsburgh firefighter who authorities say was involved in a large scale cocaine trafficking scheme for more than 20 years, pleaded guilty Thursday in federal court to drug charges.

Walter Amman, 68, pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to traffic in cocaine and one count of possession of a controlled substance.

According to court documents and information revealed in court, Amman and his 77 year-old partner in the conspiracy, Richard Wright, of Banksville, had been purchasing kilogram level amounts of cocaine for more than two decades.

Wright would process the cocaine by packaging it in smaller quantities and converting some into crack. In more recent years, Amman took a more active role in the operation and assisted with the processing, packaging and distribution of the cocaine, prosecutors said.

Authorities made two controlled purchases of cocaine from Amman and then obtained search warrants for his home as well as Wright’s house and his garage.

During the search of Wright’s home police located cocaine prepackaged for sale and color-coded for size; multiple firearms and thousands of rounds of ammunition; large amounts of cash; and multiple vehicles registered to Amman and his family.

Authorities found powder cocaine; large amounts of cash; three pistols (including one registered to Amman); and a safe imbedded into the concrete floor, when they searched his garage.

While searching Amman’s residence police found firearms; prepackaged amounts of crack and cocaine in a jacket with Amman’s name on it; keys to a truck (in the jacket); additional cocaine was found in the truck along with $1,000 in cash.

Amman admitted to authorities that between 700 grams and one kilogram of cocaine, as well as the crack cocaine found on his property were his, prosecutors said.

Federal authorities seized Amman’s Daytona Beach home in 2016, alleging in court papers that he paid for the home with money he obtained from selling drugs.

Amman is scheduled to appear for sentencing on June 7. He faces a total sentence of up to 40 years in prison, a fine of up to $2,000,000, or both.

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

Washington County police officer accused of raping 12-year-old girl

By Steve Pope | February 12, 2019

State police have accused a Washington County police officer of raping a 12-year-old girl while she was visiting his home in 2016.

A criminal complaint alleged that Trent Nelson Talbert, 58, sexually assaulted the child after she removed all her clothes thinking that Talbert was giving her an “oil rubdown.”

Police alleged in the court filing, that the child told them that Talbert sexually assaulted her several times between  June and September of 2016, while she was living at his home. She was 12 at the time. He is also alleged to have frequently walked around the home fully naked in front of the girl.

Talbert is also accused of raping the girl “at least four times” from July 13 to 20, 2018, while she stayed at his home, police said.

Authorities began an investigation in July after an adult heard the girl tell Talbert that she didn’t want another rubdown.” The girl told the adult about the prior incidents involving Talbert.

Talbert has previously worked as a police officer for Houston Borough, the Washington County Sheriff’s Office, and Pittsburgh Technical College. He is not currently working in law enforcement.

Talbert is charged with rape of a child, statutory sexual assault, two counts of involuntary deviate sexual intercourse with a child, aggravated indecent assault of a child younger than 13, indecent assault, endangering the welfare of children, unlawful contact with a minor, indecent exposure and four counts of indecent assault.

He was released Wednesday after posting a 50,000 bond and is scheduled to appear for a preliminary hearing on March 4.

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

 

Police say a McDonald man used a 17-year-old New York girl in prostitution scheme

By Amanda Klein | February 11, 2019

Police have accused a 25-year-old McDonald man of using a 17-year-old New York girl in a sex trafficking operation.

In a criminal complaint filed Monday, police alleged the teen said St. Patrick Earl Levy was her boyfriend, who police say posted racy pictures of her online.

Levy is charged with human trafficking of a minor, two counts of corruption of minors, three counts of promoting prostitution of a minor and living off prostitutes.

McDonald police received information in December from the Glenn Falls, New York Police Department seeking help in locating the teen.

Police were able to track the teen using her phone and located her at Levy’s residence. He was arrested the same day on a bench warrant from Allegheny County.

The teen told police that she ran away from home and had been living with Levy who she met on Facebook.

According to the complaint, Levy admitted to authorities that he a posted a sexually explicit advertisement online to “solicit her for prostitution,” that included sexually graphic photos of the teen. He also admitted that he knew the girl was under 18.

“Levy admitted to leaving the room while the minor was having sexual relations with a ‘customer,’ but would stay close to make sure she was OK,” the complaint said.

After Levy’s arrest the girl was released to New York authorities.

Levy remains in the Washington County Jail in lieu of posting a $150,000 bond. His preliminary hearing is scheduled for Feb. 21.

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

AG Shapiro sues Verizon saying the company didn’t deliver Amazon Prime, Echo as promised

By Terri Hill | February 11, 2019

Attorney General Josh Shapiro filed a lawsuit Monday against Verizon alleging the company repeatedly failed to deliver promised incentive items to consumers who enrolled in certain two-year contracts with the company.

According to the lawsuit, Verizon advertised to consumers that they would receive a free Amazon Echo and, in some cases, a free Amazon Prime subscription, for beginning or renewing specific contracts between November-January 2018.

The filing alleges that Verizon’s conduct constituted violations of the Pennsylvania Unfair Trade Practices and Consumer Protection Law.

“If a company chooses to promise incentives to consumers signing up for their services, it is their legal responsibility to deliver on those promises,” Attorney General Josh Shapiro said in a written statement.

Customers were told they would receive an email with instructions on claiming the incentive items after the account with Verizon had been active for 31 days. However, some consumers never received a hyperlink to obtain their free Echo and/or Amazon Prime membership as promised, the lawsuit alleged.

Verizon represenatives told consumers who called inquiring about the incentive they never received were simply told that the problem would be corrected, but never was.

The lawsuit alleges that Verizon did not correct the hyperlink problems for months, and certain consumers never received their free Echo or Amazon Prime Membership. Despite this, the consumers remain enrolled in the Verizon contracts and are subject to early termination fees to get out of their 2-year contract.

Consumers who believe they have experienced issues with Verizon’s offer for a free Echo and/or Amazon Prime membership are urged to contact the Bureau of Consumer Protection at 1-800-441-2555 or scams@attorneygeneral.gov, or can file a complaint at www.attorneygeneral.gov.

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

Owner of Johnstown drug treatment clinic indicted on drug, money laundering charges

By Amanda Klein | February 8, 2019

The owner of a substance abuse clinic was indicted Tuesday by a federal grand jury on charges of illegally dispensing controlled substances and money laundering.

Stephen K. Shaner, 69, of Bulger, owner of SKS Associates, Inc., is facing a five-count indictment alleging that between May 2012 and April 2018, he conspired with Dr. Michael Cash and Dr. Ruth Jones to create and submit unlawful prescriptions for buprenorphine, and then unlawfully dispensed the drugs.

The indictment also alleges that Shaner submitted fraudulent claims to Medicare, for payments to cover the costs of the buprenorphine.

Shaner is also alleged to have used the proceeds of the drug activity to pay for personal obligations in violation of  money laundering laws.

The two doctors named in the indictment have pleaded guilty and are awaiting sentencing.

“We have made significant progress in combatting the opioid epidemic in the Western District of Pennsylvania,” said U.S. Attorney Brady. “Overdose deaths are down overall in our District. But our work has not ended. We will continue to investigate and prosecute those who prey on people with opioid addiction.”

If convicted on all the charges Shaner faces up to 60 years in prison, a fine of $1,750,000 or both.

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