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Category Archives: Community Watch

CALN TOWNSHIP SET FOR $525,000 WATER MAIN UPGRADE

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COATESVILLE, PA  – Pennsylvania American Water today announced the start of construction to install new water main in Caln Township to improve service reliability and prevent water outages. The project cost is approximately $525,000 and will replace outdated pipe dating back to the 1940s.

Starting this week, the company will install nearly 3,500 feet of new eight-inch ductile iron along Reed Street between 17th Avenue and 13th Avenue, and along 13th Avenue between Reed Street and West Chester Road. Crews expect to complete the water main installation, testing and disinfection, and connecting customers’ service lines to the new main by early December, weather permitting. Final street paving restoration is scheduled for next spring.

Crews will work weekdays between 7 a.m. and 4 p.m. Traffic restrictions will be in place during construction, and motorists are urged to give themselves extra time and exercise caution when traveling through the work zone. During construction, customers might experience temporary water service interruptions, discolored water and/or lower than normal water pressure.

Scam Warning: Fraudulent Notices Threaten Pennsylvanians with Prosecution due to Unpaid Taxes

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Harrisburg, Pa. — The Department of Revenue today warned the public of a recently reported mail scam in which con artists have tried to defraud Pennsylvanians by threatening them with legal action or criminal prosecution if they don’t pay an illegitimate tax debt immediately.

“Con artists are always working to develop new and elaborate schemes to swindle money from hard-working people,” Revenue Secretary Dan Hassell said. “They use high-pressure tactics and threats to pressure their victims and make them fearful of the potential consequences if they don’t act immediately. We want everyone to be aware of scams like these so they can recognize the warning signs and protect themselves.”

Understanding the scam

According to Dauphin County officials, a number of residents have recently reported receiving notifications through the mail from the “Tax Processing Center.” The notices say the recipient owes “The State of Pennsylvania” unpaid taxes and a “warranted lien” has been issued in their name.

The notices pressure recipients to immediately call the phone number provided to avoid criminal penalty, property seizure and civil proceedings. The notices say the phone number provided will connect callers with a “Levy and Warrant Officer.”

Tips to avoid tax scams and con artists

The Department of Revenue is encouraging Pennsylvanians to keep the following tips in mind to safeguard against this scam and others:

  • Look for imposters: Many times con artists will pose as a government entity or an official business. If you are targeted by a con artist through the mail, phone or email, do not provide personal information or money until you are sure you are speaking to a legitimate representative.
  • Examine the notice: Con artists often design vague communications to cast a wide net to lure in as many victims as possible. Examine the notice for identifying information that can be verified. Look for blatant factual errors and other inconsistencies, such as a fake return address. If the notice is unexpected and states ‘This Is Your Final Notice,’ take a moment and verify its legitimacy. The Department of Revenue will send multiple letters to taxpayers if there is a legitimate liability owed.
  • Unusual payment methods: Avoid scenarios where you are asked to pay your debt with reloadable debit cards, gift cards or money wiring services. The Department of Revenue and other government agencies will never ask you to satisfy an outstanding liability using these payment methods.
  • Confide in someone you trust: Con artists will use aggressive tactics to rush a person to make an immediate payment to avoid legal action or prosecution. If you have any questions at all about the legitimacy of a notice you receive, slow down and talk to someone you trust.
  • Conduct research online: Using information included in a potentially fraudulent notice, such as company name, address or telephone number, conduct a search online to see if a scam has been reported by other people or government agencies.

Steps to follow if you are a victim of a scam

If you believe you are a victim of this scam or have been targeted by a con artist, contact your local law enforcement agency. You can also call the Attorney General’s Bureau of Consumer Protection at 800-441-2555. Also, if you receive a mailing you believe is mail fraud, contact the U.S. Postal Inspection Service here.

If you have questions about your local property taxes, contact your local taxing authority. If your question pertains to your state personal income tax return or a potential state tax liability, call the Department of Revenue’s Taxpayer Services and Information Center at 717-787-8201.

HIT-RUN DRIVER WHO CAUSED CRASH WITH SCHOOL BUS-FULL OF STUDENTS JAILED UP TO 20 YEARS

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A Lancaster man who caused a multi-vehicle crash last year that tipped a school bus carrying 14 students will serve up to 20 years in prison.

Lancaster County Judge Howard Knisely sentenced James P. Irvin III, 48, to 5 to 20 years in prison regarding his conviction on 68 charges from the May 17, 2017, crash on Route 30 in East Lampeter Township.

Judge Knisely said Irvin showed “no regard” for anyone on the road when he drove 71 mph, while accelerating, during an illegal pass which caused the chain-reaction crash that led to a bus with Lancaster Mennonite School students tipping onto its side.

Judge Knisely pointed to Irvin’s poor driving record since 1988 and scolded Irvin for driving without a license since 2006 – driving 400 miles a week in recent years.

As part of sentence, Irvin is prohibited from driving during the period of supervision.

All students and the bus driver received medical treatment. Irvin fled in a white Chevy Malibu; he was arrested six days later.

Parents of the two children most seriously injured expressed forgiveness for Irvin at Friday’s hearing – one father offered to visit Irvin in prison to discuss the grace of God.

Irvin “must seek forgiveness to get it,” Don Cairns said, after describing the fractured vertebrae and other injuries his son sustained.

Sheri Weaver, mother of the 6-year-old boy most seriously hurt in the crash, said her son has taken steps in recovery, but she must apply lotion daily to the boy’s many scars.

When people see the boy’s apparent scar on his face, “the bubbly extrovert” becomes shy, Sheri Weaver said.

“We don’t hate him,” Sheri Weaver said of Irvin. “We will pray for him.”

The parents thanked the first-responders who rushed to the scene and a truck driver who quickly acted in using his jack to pry the bus off the 6-year-old boy, who was pinned underneath.

Irvin was convicted in May at a non-jury trial before Judge Knisely of 68 charges, including counts of aggravated assault and hit-and-run. Assistant District Attorneys Travis S. Anderson and Trista Boyd presented testimony, including from East Lampeter Township police Sgt. Bryan Kondras, lead investigator.

Irvin offered an apology Friday, saying, “I wasn’t raised to end up here.”

“I know I made a lot of mistakes,” he added. “I really don’t have any excuse.”

Irvin’s father also spoke, and started discussing his son’s lack of malice in the crash – before Judge Knisely intervened.

“There is malice,” the judge said sternly. “Malice has been established, as a result of trial.”

Later in the hearing, Judge Knisely peered at Irvin’s family while discussing Irvin’s lack of a license yet continuance to drive with a car registered to and insured by the parents.

Before Judge Knisely ordered sentence, Assistant District Attorney Boyd pointed to Irvin’s “repeated selfish and reckless actions” which caused the crash.

Boyd said Irvin has shown no remorse, which the judge agreed with.

Boyd asked for a sentence that serves as a deterrent not only to Irvin, but to all reckless drivers.

In an eloquent statement from a parent who had three daughters on the bus that day, Assistant District Attorney Anderson read: “This is not an event you want your child to experience, and now become a piece of their history.”

MAN JAILED UP TO 12 YEARS FOR FIRING GUN DURING STREET ROBBERY IN LANCASTER

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A Lancaster man will serve up to 12 years in prison for firing a gun while robbing a man last year on a city street.

Elias R. Brown, 21, pleaded guilty in May to felony counts of robbery, aggravated assault and possessing a firearm without a license regarding the Sept. 14, 2017, incident in the 100 block of South Christian Street.

On Monday, Lancaster County President Judge Dennis Reinaker sentenced Brown to 6 to 12 years in prison.

Brown and two juveniles, also charged, robbed the victim, taking Timberland boots, cash, and a jean jacket, according to Assistant District Attorney Travis S. Anderson, lead prosecutor.

During the robbery, Brown fired five rounds from a .40-caliber Glock pistol. No one was struck.

President Judge Reinaker, while ordering sentence, said it was Brown who held the gun and presented the biggest threat to the victim’s safety.

Lancaster city police Detective Robert Whiteford filed charges.

 

Help Available for At-Risk Early Learners

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Andrea Sears

PHILADELPHIA – Pennsylvania children at risk of falling behind their peers in preschool and kindergarten can get help to prepare them for school.

Early childhood education can give children a huge boost, educators say, but those with physical or developmental disabilities, who are homeless or have parents struggling with addiction, can be at a serious disadvantage.

In Pennsylvania, children are entitled to receive Early Intervention Services, such as speech therapy and specialized instruction, to help them prepare for their first day of school.

And Sean McGrath, an attorney at the Education Law Center, says that can make a big difference.

“There’s a study that has shown that children who receive early intervention, 40 percent of the cohort was actually caught up and did not need special education services once they entered school, compared to a control group,” he states.

Services are available for newborns and children up to age five. Parents who are concerned their children may need help can call 800-692-7288 to get connected to Early Intervention Services.

Any parent can ask for help, but McGrath points out that for younger children, referrals often come from county hospitals that note low birth weight and other possible indicators of the need for help.

“For older children there are fliers, advertisements in public places saying what Early Intervention is and providing the contact information for parents to share,” he explains.

School districts are also required to determine if more services will be needed when a child enters kindergarten and have those services in place on the first day of school.

McGrath adds many parents of eligible children simply don’t know that help is available.

“It’s important for parents to know that this is an entitlement, that they have particular rights in the Early Intervention system,” he stresses.

McGrath says early intervention has been shown to be one of the most effective tools to help children overcome developmental delays and disabilities.

Governor Wolf Appoints Charles Ramsey Chairman of the School Safety and Security Committee July 23, 2018 EDUCATION, 

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Harrisburg, PA – Governor Tom Wolf has appointed Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency (PCCD) Chairman Charles H. Ramsey as Chairman of the new School Safety and Security Committee. PCCD Acting Executive Director Derin Myers will perform the duties of the committee chairman if Ramsey is unavailable.

“This committee is bringing together a broad range of stakeholders to develop a holistic approach to protecting our students and teachers in communities throughout Pennsylvania,” said Governor Wolf. “By working together, we will make our school buildings more secure, improve training for school officials and law enforcement, and ensure that students get the emotional and behavior supports they need.”

In June, Governor Wolf signed Act 44 of 2018 into law, creating a Safe Schools and Security Committee within PCCD. The committee will administer the new $60 million School Safety Fund, created in the 2018-19 state budget.

The committee will award the funding to school districts and other school entities in the form of grants to cover numerous expenses and programs to keep students and teachers safe, including physical building upgrades, security equipment, teacher training, alternative education programs, community violence prevention programs, and special and individualized mentoring programs.

The 17-member committee will also establish best practices when conducting school safety and security assessments for school buildings, trainings and student behavioral health support, as well as issue a survey to school entities to measure school safety and security preparedness.

QUARRYVILLE MAN SENTENCED TO 34 YEARS OF SUPERVISION, MEGAN’S LAW FOR LIFE, FOR SEX ABUSE

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A Quarryville man was recently sentenced to 34 years of supervision for sexual abuse of four children.

John Lapp, 55, pleaded guilty in March to 13 crimes, including felony aggravated indecent assault, regarding the behavior that spanned several years, beginning in 1995.

Lancaster County Senior Judge Joseph Madenspacher ordered the following sentence:

  • One to two years in prison;

  • 32 years of probation;

  • Registration under Megan’s Law for life;

  • Abide by sex-offender conditions while on supervision;

The four victims represented that they did not want Lapp to go to prison. One spoke at the hearing.

Judge Madenspacher said he considered that when fashioning a sentence.

Assistant District Attorney Fritz Haverstick said the victims’ wishes are always of paramount importance, but he also has a duty to protect the public.

Haversick called Lapp a “sexual predator” who abused the girls for years.

The behavior was disclosed to authorities many years after it began.

Pennsylvania State Police Trooper Jonathan Potoka filed charges.

DEALER JAILED UP TO 16 YEARS FOR FENTANYL SALE THAT KILLED ELIZABETHTOWN MAN

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A convicted drug dealer will serve up to 16 years in prison for a 2017 sale of fentanyl that killed an Elizabethtown man.

Tyler S. Bobola, 22, pleaded guilty in April to felony drug delivery resulting in death and misdemeanor endangering the welfare of a child.

On Aug. 31, Bobola sold the 22-year-old victim heroin – actually pure fentanyl – and the victim overdosed shortly after at his North Cherry Alley home.

Regarding the endangering charge, police found heroin and fentanyl residue near Bobola’s infant child when they searched Bobola’s South Market Street apartment on Sept. 6.

At a recent hearing in Lancaster County Court, Judge Merrill Spahn Jr. sentenced Bobola to 6 years and 8 months to 16 years in prison.

Assistant District Attorney Barry Goldman said there are differences between legitimate dealers and individuals who sell drugs solely to support their own drug habits.

Bobola’s operation was profitable and had been going on for years, Goldman said.

Goldman showed Judge Spahn photos of what was found at Bobola’s apartment – about 1,000 bags of heroin/fentanyl and eight cellphones, believed to be used in the drug-dealing operation.

Elizabethtown Borough police Detective Dustin Ryan filed charges.

INVESTIGATORS HALT HEROIN SUPPLY CHAIN WITH ARRESTS OF 3 MEN CHARGED IN E-TOWN MAN’S DEATH

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(In photo, from left: Salome-Chevere, Ramos-Ocasio, Rosa.)

The collaboration of several Lancaster County law-enforcement agencies led to arrests of three alleged heroin dealers charged with causing the fatal overdose of an Elizabethtown man.

The 37-year-old decedent overdosed on July 2 at his West High Street home. He was pronounced dead at Hershey Medical Center.

An investigation led by Elizabethtown police Detective Dustin Ryan revealed the victim’s direct supplier, Juan M. Rosa, and two other men higher up in the supply chain – Angel Ramos-Ocasio and Erick Salome-Chevere.

All three Lancaster city men are charged with felony drug delivery resulting in death and conspiracy.

Salome-Chevere, 27, believed to be the highest-level dealer of the group, is also charged with felony drug-dealing and related counts. Police found 1,000 bags of heroin-fentanyl at the time of his arrest. He is at Lancaster County Prison on $400,000 bail.

Ramos-Ocasio, 24, and Rosa, 25, are at Lancaster County Prison on $200,000 bail apiece.

Detective Ryan filed charges regarding the death, with assistance in the investigation and arrests by the Lancaster County Drug Task Force, Lancaster city police’s Selective Enforcement Unit, and Ephrata police.

The Lancaster County Drug Task Force charged Salome-Chevere regarding the 1,000 bags.

Assistant District Attorney Barry Goldman approved the charges.

All three men are presumed innocent.

Here is a summation of the investigation:

Detective Ryan went to the West High Street home and learned from another occupant that the decedent obtained the heroin from Rosa. Also, Facebook messages showed contact between Rosa and the decedent.

Detective Ryan and the Drug Task Force arrested Rosa at a location in Lancaster city.

Police later obtained information about Ramos-Ocasio, believed to be Rosa’s supplier. Detective Ryan, the Drug Task Force and Selective Enforcement Unit executed a search warrant in Lancaster city, where Ramos-Ocasio was located along with evidence that linked him to Salome-Chevere.

Salome-Chevere was arrested July 4 during a traffic stop in Ephrata, coordinated by Ephrata police, Detective Ryan and the Drug Task Force.

Salome-Chevere had approximately 1,000 bags of heroin/fentanyl at the time of arrest.

The investigation is ongoing.