Allentown Local News

 

LOCAL NEWS FOR WEDNESDAY, JUNE 12, 2013

LOCAL NEWS FOR WEDNESDAY, JUNE 12, 2013

  SAYING HE DOESN'T THINK HE EVER HAD A CASE THAT DISTRESSED HIM AS MUCH AS THIS ONE, LEHIGH COUNTY JUDGE ROBERT STEINBERG SOUNDED ALMOST APOLOGETIC AS HE SENTENCED ANDREW GESSLEIN II TO FIVE TO 10 YEARS IN PRISON, WHICH IS THE LOWEST SENTENCE PERMITTED BY LAW.  IN APRIL, A JURY FOUND THE HAMBURG MAN GUILTY OF VOLUNTARY MANSLAUGHTER FOR THE APRIL 2012 KILLING OF MICHAEL RANDOLPH AT THE NORTH END REPUBLICAN CLUB IN ALLENTOWN.  GESSLEIN WAS WORKING AS A SECURITY GUARD AT THE CLUB AND SHOT RANDOLPH DURING A TUSSLE.  GESSLEIN SAYS HE SHOT RANDOLPH IN SELF-DEFENSE.  JUDGE STEINBERG SAYS RANDOLPH "BEARS SOME RESPONSIBILITY HERE" AND HE BELIEVES GESSLEIN NEVER WOULD HAVE BEEN CHARGED HAD HE BEEN A POLICE OFFICER RATHER THAN A SECURITY GUARD.  STEINBERG SAYS HE'LL REQUEST GESSLEIN BE PLACED IN A MINIMUM-SECURITY PRISON.

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  LEHIGH COUNTY COMMISSIONERS WILL CHOOSE EITHER BUSINESSMAN MATT CROSLIS OR CURRENT COUNTY COMMISSIONER DAN McCARTHY AS THE NEXT COUNTY EXECUTIVE AT THEIR WEDNESDAY NIGHT MEETING.  BOTH CROSLIS AND McCARTHY INTERVIEWED FOR THE JOB MONDAY NIGHT.  WHOEVER GETS THE JOB REPLACES TOM MULLER, WHO WAS APPOINTED TO THE JOB ON AN INTERIM BASIS LAST MONTH BY THEN-COUNTY EXECUTIVE BILL HANSELL, WHO RESIGNED DUE TO HEALTH ISSUES.  HANSELL DIED LAST WEEK.  THE NEW EXECUTIVE WILL ONLY SERVE UNTIL THE WINNER OF THIS NOVEMBER'S MULLER-SCOTT OTT ELECTION IS SWORN IN NEXT JANUARY.

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  WHILE BEING QUESTIONED BY PEN ARGYL POLICE DURING THEIR INVESTIGATION, THOMAS CERAUL SR. TOLD THEM A GIRL, WHO HAD BEEN TIED UP IN A BASEMENT AND THEN SEXUALLY ASSAULTED, ACTUALLY WANTED THE SEX.  AT HIS TUESDAY SENTENCING, AFTER SAYING THE GIRL WAS THE REAL PREDATOR, CERAUL WAS SENTENCED TO WHAT IS ESSENTIALLY A LIFE SENTENCE FOR SEXUALLY ASSAULTING THAT GIRL FROM EARLY 2009 TO THE END OF 2010.  THE 43-YEAR-OLD SLATE BELT MAN WAS SENTENCED TO 65-AND-A-HALF TO 132 YEARS IN STATE PRISON FOR THE ASSAULTS, WHICH BEGAN WHEN THE GIRL WAS 13 YEARS OLD.  IN COURT, THE GIRL'S MOTHER SAID SHE HOPES CERAUL IS TREATED IN PRISON THE WAY HE TREATED HER DAUGHTER.

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  ALMOST SIX MONTHS AFTER HIS RESTAURANT BURNED TO THE GROUND, CHRISTIAN FILIPOS SAYS HE'S READY TO REBUILD YOUELL'S OYSTER HOUSE ON THE SAME PROPERTY IN THE 2200 BLOCK OF WALNUT STREET.  ALLENTOWN'S ZONING HEARING BOARD HAS OK'S PLANS TO BUILD A NEW RESTAURANT, ONE THAT WILL BE ALMOST 700-SQUARE-FEET BIGGER AND WILL ACCOMODATE 50 MORE PEOPLE THAN THE PREVIOUS RESTAURANT. 

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  A LEHIGH VALLEY MAN PLANS TO OPEN A MUSEUM AT THE OLD PIONEER BUILDING AT EIGHTH AND TILGHMAN STREETS IN ALLENTOWN, WHERE HE'LL PUT HIS COLLECTION OF RETRO ARCADE GAMES FROM THE 1950S TO 1980S ON DISPLAY FOR PLAY.   JOSEPH SHILLER AMASSED HIS COLLECTION OF ABOUT 50 GAMES OVER THE PAST FOUR YEARS, MOSTLY FINDING THE MACHINES ON WEBSITES LIKE CRAIGSLIST.  SHILLER SAYS THE MUSEUM WILL TAKE VISITORS BY APPOINTMENT ONLY AND THEY'LL BE ENCOURAGED TO PLAY THE GAMES, WHICH INCLUDE PINBALL AND ELECTRO-MECHANICAL GAMES LIKE SHUFFLEBALL AND HORSE RACING GAMES.  HE SAYS THEY NEED TO BE PLAYED TO KEEP THEM IN WORKING ORDER.  SHILLER INTENDS TO LIVE IN HIS PLEASE-PLAY MUSEUM, WHICH SHOULD BE OPEN BY OCTOBER.

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  A VOTE ON WHETHER TO APPROVE A $28.3 BILLION STATE BUDGET PLAN BY PENNSYLVANIA'S HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES WILL HAVE TO WAIT UNTIL AT LEAST TODAY.  REPRESENTATIVES WERE SCHEDULED TO VOTE TUESDAY TO SEND THE GOP-CRAFTED BILL TO THE SENATE, BUT THE HOUSE ADJOURNED WITHOUT TAKING IT UP.  HOUSE GOP SPOKESMAN STEVE MISKIN SAYS LEADERS DECIDED TO POSTPONE THE VOTE UNTIL TODAY SO LAWMAKERS CAN GET "A FRESH START" ON THE EXPECTED DEBATE. 

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  HOUSE REPUBLICANS ARE STILL TRYING TO SORT OUT THEIR OWN STATE BUDGET PROPOSAL.  LIEUTENANT GOVERNOR JIM CAWLEY SAYS THOSE LAWMAKERS NEED TO KEEP TWO PRIMARY THINGS IN MIND.  "WE ARE STILL COMMITTED TO A COUPLE OF KEY THINGS.  FIRST AND FOREMOST, STATE GOVERNMENT MUST CONTINUE, AS IT HAS IN THE PAST TWO BUDGETS, TO LIVE WITHIN ITS MEAMS.  SECOND, WE CANNOT RAISE TAXES ON THE PEOPLE OF PENNSYLVANIA," CAWLEY SAYS.  A NEW STATE BUDGET MUST BE WRAPPED UP AND SIGNED BY THE GOVERNOR BY THE END OF JUNE.

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  SEVERAL CHANGES TO PENNSYLVANIA LAWS THAT DEAL WITH CHILD ABUSE ARE MOVING IN THE STATE LEGISLATURE FOLLOWING FAVORABLE COMMITTEE VOTES. THE HOUSE CHILDREN AND YOUTH COMMITTEE ON TUESDAY APPROVED SIX BILLS, INCLUDING A NEW DEFINITION OF CHILD ABUSE THAT WOULD EXPAND PROSECUTORS' ABILITY TO FILE CHARGES. THE COMMITTEE IS ALSO SENDING TO THE HOUSE FLOOR NEW OVERSIGHT STANDARDS FOR CHILD ABUSE INVESTIGATIONS BY COUNTY OFFICIALS, CHANGES TO BACKGROUND CLEARANCE REQUIREMENTS FOR THOSE WHO WORK WITH CHILDREN AND AN EXPANDED LIST OF THOSE MANDATED TO REPORT SUSPECTED CHILD ABUSE. A SENATE COMMITTEE APPROVED A BILL TO REQUIRE SCHOOL EMPLOYEES TO ALERT POLICE AND THE CHILDLINE HOTLINE, NOT SIMPLY THEIR SUPERIORS. LAWMAKERS ARE REVISING CHILD ABUSE LAWS IN THE WAKE OF THE JERRY SANDUSKY AND CLERGY SEX ABUSE SCANDALS.

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  LEGISLATION TO UPDATE THE STATE'S CLEAN INDOOR AIR ACT HAS BEEN INTRODUCED BY BILL SPONSOR MARIO SCAVELLO.  "WHAT I'M TRYING TO DO IS MAKE THE LAW THAT WE PASSED A FEW YEARS AGO BETTER BY GETTING RID OF THE EXEMPTIONS," SCAVELLO SAYS.  THE MONROE COUNTY STATE REPRESENTATIVE SAYS SINCE THE ACT WAS APPROVED BUSINESSES TWEAK THEIR NUMBERS TO MAKE THEM QUALIFY FOR A SMOKING EXEMPTION.  HIS NEW BILL AIMS TO ELIMINATE MANY OF THE 2800 EXEMPTIONS WRITTEN INTO THAT LAW. 

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  A PHILADELPHIA LAWYER SAYS A SUBCONTRACTOR CHARGED IN A DEADLY BUILDING COLLAPSE IS A SCAPEGOAT WHO WAS MERELY FOLLOWING ORDERS.  THE LAWYER FOR 42-YEAR-OLD SEAN BENSCHOP DENIES THAT HE WAS IMPAIRED BY MARIJUANA AND PERCOCET WHILE OPERATING MACHINERY, AS PROSECUTORS ALLEGE.  DURING A DEMOLITION LAST WEEK, A WALL COLLAPSED, BURYING 19 PEOPLE AT AN ADJACENT THRIFT STORE.  SIX DIED.  LAWYER DAINE GREY SAYS AUTHORITIES HAVE CHARGED "THE LOWEST MAN ON THE TOTEM POLE" BUT SHOULD FOCUS ON THE CONTRACTOR AND BUILDING OWNER.  AUTHORITIES BELIEVE BENSCHOP WAS USING HEAVY EQUIPMENT TO REMOVE THE FOUR-STORY WALL.  A LAWYER FOR CONTRACTOR GRIFFIN CAMPBELL SAYS CAMPBELL TOLD HIM TO REMOVE THE BRICKS BY HAND.  PROSECUTORS HAVE OPENED A GRAND JURY INVESTIGATION TO SEE WHETHER ANYONE ELSE SHOULD BE CHARGED.

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  A PHILADELPHIA ABORTION DOCTOR ALREADY SERVING A LIFE TERM IN THE DEATHS OF THREE BABIES IS DUE IN FEDERAL COURT TO PLEAD TO DRUG CHARGES.  AUTHORITIES SAY DR. KERMIT GOSNELL RAN A "PILL MILL" BY DAY AND A ROGUE "ABORTION MILL" BY NIGHT.  HIS HIGH-PROFILE MURDER TRIAL THIS SPRING CAME AFTER FEDERAL DRUG AGENTS RAIDED HIS WEST PHILADELPHIA CLINIC IN 2010.  THEY CHARGED HIM WITH SELLING PRESCRIPTIONS FOR OXYCONTIN AND OTHER PAINKILLERS TO PEOPLE WHO LINED UP AT THE FRONT DESK.  A STATE JURY LAST MONTH CONVICTED THE 72-YEAR-OLD DOCTOR OF THREE COUNTS OF FIRST-DEGREE MURDER FOR KILLING BABIES AFTER THEY WERE BORN ALIVE.  DEFENSE LAWYER JACK MCMAHON HAS SAID GOSNELL WILL PLEAD GUILTY TO THE DRUG CHARGES, GIVEN THE OUTCOME OF THE MURDER CASE.

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  PENNSYLVANIA STATE TREASURER ROB MCCORD IS TAKING A SIGNIFICANT PUBLIC STEP TOWARD RUNNING FOR GOVERNOR IN NEXT YEAR'S CROWDED DEMOCRATIC PARTY PRIMARY.  MCCORD FILED PAPERWORK TUESDAY WITH ELECTION OFFICIALS TO START THE MCCORD FOR GOVERNOR POLITICAL ACTION COMMITTEE.  THAT GIVES HIM AN ACCOUNT TO BEGIN RAISING MONEY FOR A RACE THAT HE'S WIDELY EXPECTED TO ENTER.  THE DEMOCRATIC PRIMARY WINNER WILL CHALLENGE THE RE-ELECTION BID OF REPUBLICAN GOV. TOM CORBETT.  A MCCORD SPOKESMAN ISN'T SAYING WHEN EXACTLY MCCORD WILL DECLARE HIS CANDIDACY.  AMONG THE OTHERS DECLARING THEIR INTENTION TO RUN ARE U.S. REP. ALLYSON SCHWARTZ, WOLF ORGANIZATION INC. CHAIRMAN AND CEO TOM WOLF, TWO FORMER STATE ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION SECRETARIES, JOHN HANGER AND KATHLEEN MCGINTY AND MINISTER MAX MYERS.

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  GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE'S ADMINISTRATION SAYS IN A NEW COURT FILING THAT THERE IS NO REASON TO PUSH BACK A SPECIAL U.S. SENATE ELECTION TO THE SAME DAY AS THE GUBERNATORIAL ELECTION.  THE STATE FILED THE RESPONSE TUESDAY TO A LAWSUIT FILED LAST WEEK BY SOMERSET COUNTY DEMOCRATIC CHAIRWOMAN PEG SCHAFFER.  IT SEEKS TO MOVE THE DATE OF THE SPECIAL ELECTION.  AFTER U.S. SEN. FRANK LAUTENBERG DIED LAST WEEK, CHRISTIE SCHEDULED AN ELECTION TO REPLACE HIM FOR OCTOBER 16.  THAT'S 20 DAYS BEFORE THE MAIN GENERAL ELECTION.  DEMOCRATS SAY IT'S WASTEFUL TO HAVE TWO ELECTIONS SO CLOSE TOGETHER.  LAWYERS FOR THE STATE SAY MOVING THE ELECTION WOULD CREATE MORE PROBLEMS THAN IT WOULD FIX.

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  A NEW POLL SHOWS GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE CONTINUES TO SEE A BOUNCE FROM HIS HANDLING OF SUPERSTORM SANDY.  BUT RESIDENTS ARE DIVIDED BY PARTY ABOUT HOW HE'S DOING ON THE ISSUES OF JOBS AND TAXES.  THE RUTGERS-EAGLETON POLL RELEASED TODAY SHOWS 85 PERCENT OR MORE OF REPUBLICANS, DEMOCRATS AND INDEPENDENTS APPROVE OF CHRISTIE'S POST-SANDY RECOVERY EFFORTS.  BUT ONLY 41 PERCENT OF ALL VOTERS APPROVE OF HOW HE'S HANDLING ECONOMIC ISSUES.  POLLSTER DAVID REDLAWSK SAYS THE POST-SANDY BENEFITS FOR CHRISTIE HAVE LASTED LONGER THAN EXPECTED.  BY COMPARISON, NEW YORK GOV. ANDREW CUOMO'S SKY-HIGH POST-SANDY APPROVAL RATING HAS DROPPED 20 POINTS. 

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  GET SET FOR SOME CHEEKY REMARKS AT CITY HALL IN WILDWOOD.  THE POPULAR JERSEY SHORE RESORT TOWN WILL VOTE WEDNESDAY NIGHT ON A PROPOSED LAW THAT WOULD BAN OVERLY SAGGY PANTS ON THE BOARDWALK.  THE ORDINANCE UP FOR A FINAL VOTE WOULD PROHIBIT PANTS THAT SHOW UNDERWEAR OR SKIN MORE THAN THREE INCHES BELOW THE WAIST.  MAYOR ERNEST TROIANO JR. SAYS MANY FAMILIES HAVE COMPLAINED ABOUT HAVING TO LOOK AT PEOPLE'S REAR ENDS WHILE OUT FOR A STROLL ON THE BOARDWALK.  PENALTIES START AT $25 AND GO UP TO $200.  CIVIL LIBERTARIANS SAY THE ORDINANCE IS UNCONSTITUTIONAL BUT OTHER TOWNS AROUND THE COUNTRY HAVE SUCCESSFULLY ADOPTED SIMILAR BANS.

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