41 people charged in phony dead deer insurance scam

imitation deer

Forty-one people are facing charges in an elaborate insurance fraud scheme that used dead deer to fake car accidents.

Prosecutors in Philadelphia say that Ronald Galati Sr. ran a $5 million scam out of his auto body shop, reports The Associated Press.

Galati allegedly coached customers to claim they’d struck a deer rather than a car. That way, insurance companies would consider them “no fault” accidents and pay the claims without raising the customers’ premiums.

Deer blood, carcasses and fur were found in the back of his shop to use as props.

Prosecutors say that Galati’s wife, son and daughter, several insurance adjusters, tow truck drivers, a city official and a police officer were also charged.

I wonder if they ever used parrots?

Whoda thunk it? Chemical weapons treaty cannot be invoked in assault case

Sargent,_John_Singer_(RA)_-_Gassed_-_Google_Art_Project
Legitimate target of the treaty

A unanimous Supreme Court ruled Monday that prosecutors may not rely on an international chemical weapons treaty to convict a woman who attacked her husband’s mistress.

The justices threw out the conviction of Carol Anne Bond of Lansdale, Pa., who was prosecuted under a 1999 law based on the chemical weapons treaty. Bond served a six-year prison term after being convicted of using toxic chemicals that caused a thumb burn on a friend who had become her husband’s lover.

The intent of the chemical weapons treaty was to prevent a repeat of the use of mustard gas in World War I or toxic weapons in the Iraq-Iran war in the early 1980s, not “an amateur attempt by a jilted wife to injure her husband’s lover,” Chief Justice John Roberts wrote for the court…

Pennsylvania laws are sufficient to deal with threats posed by a woman in a love triangle, he said.

Bond, unable to bear any children of her own, was excited for her best friend Myrlina Haynes when the woman announced her pregnancy. But that was before Bond learned that the baby’s father was her husband of more than 14 years, Clifford Bond.

Vowing revenge, Bond, a laboratory technician, stole the chemical 10-chloro-10H phenoxarsine from the company where she worked and purchased potassium dichromate on Amazon.com. Both can be deadly if ingested or exposed to the skin at sufficiently high levels.

Bond’s efforts were obvious enough that Haynes noticed chemicals had been spread on her door handle and in the tailpipe of her car. Haynes suffered a minor burn. But believing local police did not do enough to investigate, she called the United States Postal Service after finding more of the chemicals on her mailbox. Postal inspectors arrested Bond after they videotaped her going back and forth between Haynes’ car and the mailbox with the chemicals.

Instead of turning the domestic dispute case over to state prosecutors, a federal grand jury indicted Bond on two counts of possessing and using a chemical weapon. The grand jury based the charges on a federal anti-terrorism law passed to fulfill the United States’ international treaty obligations under the 1993 Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production, Stockpiling and use of Chemical Weapons and on Their Destruction.

Bond pleaded guilty.

Remorse or not, it’s an abuse of the intent of the law. It’s tough enough trying to get our courts up to obeying the spirit of much of our civil and criminal law. Please, folks, please try to stick to the point.

Thanks, Mike

Hospital patient busted selling heroin out of her ICU room

hosptial

A Pennsylvania patient will likely be facing drug charges after police allegedly confiscated more than 350 stamp bags of heroin that she was in the process of selling from her hospital room.

Greensburg City police are expected to charge a woman was being treated at Excela Health Westmoreland Hospital with delivery and possession of a controlled substance

In addition to selling heroin from the ICU unit as well as her hospital room, the woman also allegedly injected heroin into her IV system.

“The Intensive Care Unit at Excela Westmoreland Hospital cares for the sickest of sick patients, which is another reason our staff is keenly aware of what is happening in and around a patient’s room as they monitor for sudden changes in health status,” Excela spokeswoman Jennifer Miele said in an emailed statement. “Last week, they noticed an inordinate amount of foot traffic to one room. Rather than visitors who stayed for an hour or more, they saw people coming and going in a matter of minutes.”

After watching what was happening on surveillance cameras, hospital security staffers contacted the Greensburg police…When the heroin was seized, police also took…$1,420 from the woman’s hospital room.

See what happens when you haven’t any health insurance. Gotta make ends meet somehow.

Har.

Burger King Baby reunited with her biological mother

Katheryn Deprill was reunited with her mother Monday, 27 years after the elder woman left her as a newborn in a Burger King bathroom in Allentown, Pa.

The so-called “Burger King Baby” was left at the restaurant just hours after her Sept. 15, 1986 birth, with no note or indication left behind as to the identity of her biological parents.

Deprill launched a search on social media three weeks ago to try to track down her birth mother.

Deprill’s birth mother, who didn’t want to be identified, saw her daughter’s request to meet her and approached an attorney on how to facilitate the meeting. Allentown attorney John Waldron arranged the reunion Monday, the Allentown Morning Call reported.

“It was pure shock to see it was actually her standing there,” Deprill said. “The first thing I got was my hug that I wanted.”

Waldron said Deprill’s birth mother became pregnant when she was raped at age 16 and hid the pregnancy from her family. She gave birth at home when she was 17, and dropped Deprill off at the Burger King knowing someone would find the baby there.

She kissed the baby on the forehead and left,” Waldron said. “She was a kid in high school. Back then, you couldn’t just go to a hospital and drop the baby off, no questions asked.”

A piece of the good that comes from the widely expanded communications we get from the Web.

Big-hearted oil company hands out pizza gift certificates after deadly explosion

The Chevron Corp. donation of free pizzas to Greene County, Pa., residents affected by a gas well explosion last week is not going over well, residents say.

Chevron is dispensing 100 gift certificates for pizza and soft drinks to those in the area of the southwestern Pennsylvania county where a gas well exploded Feb. 11. The incident killed a worker, injured another and sparked a fire that burned for four days…

Chevron’s attempted outreach was the topic of a Twitter user, who wrote Tuesday, “Worst apology ever. Sorry our fracking well exploded, here’s a free pizza.”

Another unidentified resident said he found the gift certificate when he returned home Sunday, and noted it was the first and last time Chevron contacted him about the incident…

BTW, Chevron says…the situation at the well “remains serious, and teams are working around the clock to safely approach and shut the well.”

Golly gee. They’re sticking around for a spell to clean up their mess. How thoughtful.

The likely future of Voter ID laws


 
“Voting laws are designed to assure a free and fair election; the Voter ID Law does not further this goal”

It’s way too early to forecast the fate of the Voting Rights Amendment Act of 2014, the federal legislation introduced Thursday in response to the United States Supreme Court’s decision last June in Shelby County v. Holder which struck down the heart of the Voting Rights Act. This sensible new measure has bipartisan support. But already there are grumblings on the right that the bill either isn’t necessary or that it too boldly protects the rights of minority citizens to be free from…discriminatory voting practices…

But it’s not too early to know that state voter identification laws will have an exalted place of protection in the Congressional response to Shelby County no matter what the final legislation looks like. In an effort to garner bipartisan support, that is to say in an effort to appease Republican lawmakers, the bill’s sponsors specifically exempted state voter ID laws from the litany of discriminatory voting policies and practices that would count under the new “coverage formula” contemplated by Section 4 of the proposed law. It’s like proposing a law to ban football and then exempting the Super Bowl.

The VRAA tells us that it will be left to state and federal judges around the nation to render their own judgment about the constitutionality of voter ID laws. And right on cue, the day after the federal measure was introduced on Capitol Hill, a judge in Pennsylvania did just that. Following a lengthy trial last summer, and six months of agonizing delay, Commonwealth Court Judge Bernard L. McGinley on Friday struck down Pennsylvania’s new voter ID law as violative of the constitutional rights of state voters…

The ruling is significant on its own terms, of course; it’s a major victory for voting rights advocates and a setback for vote suppressors in the state and everywhere else. As a matter of politics the import is clear. Pennsylvania is an eternal swing state—although it has swung blue most recently in national contests—and it is still considered a must-win for Democratic candidates for president. By blocking a law that would have erected practical impediments to mostly poor, young, old, and minority voters, Friday’s ruling makes it more likely that those likely Democratic voters will have their votes counted in 2014, at least…

Continue reading

Dissidents who burgled FBI, turned up crimes against activists, step out into daylight decades later


FBI field office in Media, PAPhoto Betty Medsger

…On a night nearly 43 years ago…burglars took a lock pick and a crowbar and broke into a Federal Bureau of Investigation office in a suburb of Philadelphia, making off with nearly every document inside.

They were never caught, and the stolen documents that they mailed anonymously to newspaper reporters were the first trickle of what would become a flood of revelations about extensive spying and dirty-tricks operations by the F.B.I. against dissident groups.

The burglary in Media, Pa., on March 8, 1971, is a historical echo today, as disclosures by the former National Security Agency contractor Edward J. Snowden have cast another unflattering light on government spying and opened a national debate about the proper limits of government surveillance. The burglars had, until now, maintained a vow of silence about their roles in the operation. They were content in knowing that their actions had dealt the first significant blow to an institution that had amassed enormous power and prestige during J. Edgar Hoover’s lengthy tenure as director.

“When you talked to people outside the movement about what the F.B.I. was doing, nobody wanted to believe it,” said one of the burglars, Keith Forsyth, who is finally going public about his involvement. “There was only one way to convince people that it was true, and that was to get it in their handwriting.”

Mr. Forsyth, now 63, and other members of the group can no longer be prosecuted for what happened that night, and they agreed to be interviewed before the release this week of a book written by one of the first journalists to receive the stolen documents. The author, Betty Medsger, a former reporter for The Washington Post, spent years sifting through the F.B.I.’s voluminous case file on the episode and persuaded five of the eight men and women who participated in the break-in to end their silence…

“It looks like we’re terribly reckless people,” John Raines said. “But there was absolutely no one in Washington — senators, congressmen, even the president — who dared hold J. Edgar Hoover to accountability.”

“It became pretty obvious to us,” he said, “that if we don’t do it, nobody will.”

The tradition that proceeds from Upton Sinclair to Ellsworth to Snowden now has another fine chapter. I saw the [ineffectual] FBI agent assigned to track these folks down 42 years ago – on TV, today. He was whining about their criminal guilt.

He was one of the criminals. They are the heroes.

Prison term for woman who hustled fraudulent student loans to pay for plastic surgery

A Pennsylvania woman was sentenced to 15 months in prison after fraudulently soliciting $600,000 in student loans mainly used to pay for cosmetic surgeries.

Meredith Shuster, 36, of Cranberry, Pa., a suburb north of Pittsburgh, used her parents’ identities to solicit the loans. She then used about half the money on a series of cosmetic surgeries to alter her appearance, prosecutors said. The other half went toward myriad personal expenses…

Shuster’s lawyer argued she suffers from a condition called “body dysmorphic disorder” that caused her to feel compelled to constantly change her appearance.

Federal prosecutors said because nearly half the money went toward other expenses, the diagnosis wasn’t relevant and Shuster deserved to serve prison time.

U.S. District Judge Mark Hornak ordered the prison term, $632,613 be paid to the federal government in restitution and a 5-year probationary period upon Shuster’s release.

Gotcha!

Bollards earn street nickname “Penis Road”

Residents of a Pennsylvania city said newly installed concrete traffic deflectors have earned a street a colorful nickname, “Penis Road.”

Scott, PA, residents said the posts, called bollards, were installed on two streets in the Glendale section of Scott and the shape of the objects — elongated shafts with rounded tops — resemble male sex organs…

“People are laughing at it. They’re calling it Penis Road,” resident Pat Martin told officials at a Tuesday meeting of the township commissioners.

Scott Manager Denise Fitzgerald said the state Department of Transportation approved the bollards.

Commissioner Bill Wells suggested flattening the tops of the bollards.

“I think it would improve the appearance,” he said.

Fitzgerald said she would look into the potential cost of such work.

Bollocks!