DA folds on 2-year vow to seek death penalty
Neither a RANT nor a RAVE, but acknowledgement that wide-spread regional shock was felt today when the Fayette County District
Attorney sent his assistant to court to cancel his 2017 notice to seek the death penalty in the already now three-year-long homicide case
of Michael Wright, set to go to trial next month. Read More.
Group home staff charged with sexual assault
RANTS that trusted, long-time staff at a county group home agency is charged with sexual assaulting a disabled elderly woman with
mental retardation and cerebral palsy, regularly, for over six years.
RANTS that someone so trusted "told investigators he massaged the woman to help stimulate her to have a bowel movement," as per
the Trib's piece, "Uniontown man charged with indecent assault of disabled woman."
Yes, the accused has a family now suffering because of his actions, but nobody who victimizes someone so vulnerable for his own sick
kicks, over such a long period of time, deserves a pass.
RAVES of hope that his strong political connections in Fay don't pull strings to conveniently make this all go away. (17 Apr 19)
Lohr's signs defy state requirements, common sense
RANTS that at least one political candidate just can't seem to grasp the meaning of basic, straight forward state transportation
requirements for the placement of election campaign signs outside restricted state right of way areas. Read More.
Autistic 18-year-old restrained at jail
RANTS that county jail sources state that an 18-year-old disabled male with Autism, who came to jail after an argument at his personal
care living home, is incarcerated under suicide watch in a turtle suit.
RANTS that it happened again to someone with developmental disabilities... and that it, in all likelihood, will happen again in the future
with another. RANTS that disabled ones such as this 18-year-old living in supervised personal care homes end up on a bad day tossed
out and into the basement of the county jail in turtle suits so quickly and so pitifully. (12 Apr 19)
Fay judge sued for civil right's violation as former DA
RANTS hearing a federal court's strong words in denying a current Fayette County judge's motion to dismiss a civil suit against her for
improper prosecution and civil right's violations from when she was a district attorney, in a 2006 homicide trial.
As per The Daily Courier's "F.C., judge to appeal federal court decision," a woman who served 11 years in prison for homicide before
being released and supported with a case review and appeals by The Innocence Project, in the federal court's opinion, "makes multiple
allegations of (Fayette County Judge Nancy) Vernon's involvement in the police investigation and her awareness of conflicting stories in
The civil suit, filed two years ago against Vernon, the county and some still current and former Connellsville police officers, was filed
two years after the woman won her release in 2015 from prison.
Her release from prison resulted, inevitably, from lawyers at the Pennsylvania Innocence Project digging and learning that the key,
damaging information, falsely linking the then defendant to the homicide, presented to the jury from a supposed dental forensics expert
witness in 2006, in reality, was "junk science."
The recent federal civil court decided in part not to dismiss the piece of the woman's suit against Vernon and to allow it to proceed, as
per the paper, because "these allegations are sufficient to support a plausible claim of Vernon's involvement in a civil rights conspiracy."
RANTS if that is true and Fay is left with only one, or maybe just two, judges with smarts and integrity, beyond reproach. (12 Apr 19)
Additional source: https://innocenceprojectpa.org/cases/crystal-weimer/
Quotes Of The Day" on the 8,000 Fay jobs DoubleV created or maintained
"Does he mean he got 8,000 political favor jobs created and maintained in his decades campaigning for office? Or does he mean he
himself exclusively had everything to do with attracting new businesses or helping businesses expand that much?"
Pete, last night at the diner, recalling bits of a speech from an incumbent political candidate at a fund raiser and relaying his thoughts on the
speech he heard
"I rode the elevator daily with people from Advanced Acoustics, when it was a tiny little place in a few cubic feet of room in the
downtown bank building. The company's impressive growth over the years and its upcoming additional expansion that (Fayette County
Commissioner Vince) Vicites spoke of might have something to do with him, but it's success since it opened is most likely due only to
the skills of its own internal, Advanced Acoustics company staff."
"Do you think he counted the same couple hundred of people or same jobs multiple times, each time the Grindstone
telecommunications company closed and reopened as a new company?"
Pete's wife, guessing that about 3,000 of the claimed 8,000 jobs the incumbent says he created or maintained could possibly be inflated by multiple
regroupings and company closures, affecting about an actual 100-200 maximum number of jobs ever open at any time at that location
Moving Fay forward with empty pockets for mountain emergency
RANTS that ambulance and emergency response time will increase substantially in the mountain, with the closure of the mountain
ambulance station that served some 6,000 residents and additional tourists from the top of the summit to the Somerset County line.
RANTS that a region so focused on attracting tourist dollars undermines its ownself so ridiculously by allowing this situation to occur.
Fay can't afford to have a mountain base station for emergency medical services? Really?
Fay can afford thousands of dollars in non-budgeted raises and oodles of other non-essential perks, but cannot afford to cough up more
funds for shorter response times, of 20 or more minutes, for emergency medical response, for those living and paying taxes or
vacationing on the mountain?
RANTS that Fay is dying because of such sheer stupidity. (8 Apr 19)
"Quote Of The Day" on the wrong way to try to eliminate an election competitor
"During a brief period of time, maybe five to seven minutes, (Fayette County Commissioner Dave) Lohr made a veiled attack on my
pregnant wife. Speaking of the challenges a political race raises, his almost divorce with his wife, the ugly slander and attacks.
Remember, this was the longest portion of any topic in his candidacy speech. Very cowardly in my opinion. Attack your opponent, instill
a lack of conviction in his pregnant wife. For what? To win a local political race?"
Jacob Ely, county commissioner candidate, from an exert on his recent blog at this link, expressing opinion of incumbent opponent Lohr and
his take on the infamous free dirt Lohr exclaims he discovered for a future airport expansion project
Fay baby needs prayers
Neither a RANT nor a RAVE, but a serious request to put all political thoughts aside for a moment and say a prayer for a Uniontown baby,
healthy till last week, now fighting to breathe on her own in a pediatric intensive care unit.
Please keep her, her parents and their extended families in your thoughts and prayers that she starts to improve and breathe
unassisted. Not much else matters when a baby is so ill. (26 Mar 19)
AG to move criminal case of Bullskin Dem committee man to
AG Consumer Protection Act violation investigation, civil court
At a hearing tomorrow, a state attorney general investigator is expected to drop a remaining misdemeanor charge against a Bullskin
Dem party committee man, whose three felonies over not doing work for a $4,500 home excavation job previously were dropped by the
county district attorney last fall. Instead, the state attorney general's office will proceed with a consumer protection investigation and
civil case against the self-employed contractor.
Today, the state attorney general investigator released the area couple, who last August filed a Writ of Mandamus against the county
district attorney for not wanting to prosecute the Bullskin Dem party committee man and contractor, from their subpoena issued by the
county district attorney to appear tomorrow for a hearing at the Fayette County courthouse.
The district attorney in early February came under a court order from Fayette County Judge Steve Leskinen to recuse himself from the
case and turn it over to the state attorney general's office. A few weeks later, the state attorney general investigator went to Leskinen's
court and then to get the case investigation file that the district attorney still held.
So, RANTS, that after all that drama, today, the same investigator opted not to prosecute the Bullskin Dem committee man on criminal
charges at all and focus on the consumer protection investigation and civil case against him.
While the area couple duped out of $4,500 by the Bullskin Dem party committee man, reportedly, was told in person and by phone by
the state attorney general investigator that the county district attorney's delay in recusing himself and turning the case file over to her
hinders her ability to re-file or prosecute criminally now, the investigator in writing wrote nothing about the district attorney hindering
her ability to prosecute the man criminally now.
The couple's separate civil case against the Fay Dem party committee man contractor will continue.
"The same evidence does support the violations of the Consumer Protection Act," Deputy Attorney General Alicia Werner wrote today.
RANTS that the courts jerk people around this much. (25 Mar 19)
"Quote Of The Day" of the most frustrating kind
"Solomon said because Shellhammer has never testified to those events other than his statements made on that night, he has to go on
circumstantial evidence to support the self-defense claim and denied the motion."
heraldstandard.com, "Judge denies suppression motions in Masontown homicide case," making it almost sound as though Judge Gerald
Solomon is ready to dismiss a homicide case if he heard defendant Chris Shellhammer, lodged in the county jail without bail for 14 months, testify
in court on the stand that he acted in self defense in a fatal Masontown shooting that occurred after Shellhammer, reportedly, was blocked from
leaving a home, beaten, suffered a closed head injury brain concussion, a broken jaw and broken nose AND THEN, reportedly, shot one of two
people beating him, as he fought to maintain consciousness and the duo's talk turned to the gun one knew Shellhammer carried on him
Retired feds making Fay their concern
RAVES of respect and welcome to some retired federal investigators, offering to help their already involved colleague, to monitor some
criminal matters in Fay drawing their impressive attention and concern.
RAVES of hope that investigative instincts of these seasoned feds shine spot on in acknowledging any red flags they may see. More to
come after their findings become available. (24 Mar 19)
"Quote Of The Day" from another who formerly served on the Fayette County Airport Authority
"This board has been in violation of a lot of issues for a bit of time now. No published listing of meetings, no published accounting of the
money, no accounting of grants, no formal anything on bids and there are things that have been done. No following of historical
guidelines for several buildings. It is a pity that I had to wait to say anything but the airport needs a good pair of eyes looking at it. Keep
in mind that they can make it miserable for some people."
Myrna Giannopoulis, chiming in on social media ongoing chatter, about two county commissioners meeting privately with state political aides and
airport authority staff or authority or operational board members, to discuss a generous offer by a contractor to donate dirt from its projects to the
Giannopoulis, possibly the most bullied volunteer -- or possibly running neck to neck for that title with Bev Beal on the housing authority -- to serve
on any county board or authority and -- again, like Beal -- still not fold to intimidation efforts during public meetings
Credentialed professional passed over for county board seat
RANTS that a nurse practitioner, assistant professor of nursing and grant writer was passed over for a seat on a newly formed county
hospital authority today due to politics.
Instead of placing a highly qualified health professional on the new authority, Fayette County Commissioners Vince Vicites and Dave
Lohr named one of their political campaign managers and a relative of a big labor union head to serve.
"I recognize how important our small community hospitals are to the health of our communities," rejected applicant Melany Chrash
wrote tonight on social media, calling the hospitals a "neglected resource."
Chrash, as readers here know, wrote a dandy of a letter to the editor last month after attending and speaking at a county meeting with
concern about the new voting machines required to be in place by the 2020 presidential elections.
"I didn't expect Lohr to vote for me since I caught him sneaking around the back of my house and I yelled at him to get off my property,"
she added tonight.
Regardless of what that might have been about, RANTS that politics played such a dirty hand today at the table. Lets hope, somehow,
that a campaign manager and union head's relative end up bringing more than their campaign buttons to the new authority board and
that their motivation to serve continues if their guys are not re-elected. (21 Mar 19)
Nobody knew about the statute of limitations?
One of DA's rare convictions vacated for improper prosecution
RANTS that a victim of a child sexual predator and families of his other victims got royally jerked around by the negligent courts of
Fayette County, with a trial, 2018 conviction and January sentencing, only to today have the conviction vacated and the offender
awaiting retrial released from home monitoring a free man.
RANTS that all of the victims in this case suffered again all these years later, needlessly, because the district attorney didn't know the
law and prosecuted the offender after statute of limitations had actually expired. RANTS that no judge paid enough attention during the
proceedings to notice.
RANTS that this kind of surreal stupidity from the courts affects real people so sadly. There is no excuse.
RANTS because the incompetence of county prosecution probably just handed an admitted child sexual predator an easy out of court
settlement for the violation of his rights for improper prosecution. (20 Mar 19)
"Quote Of The Day," in a must read, excellent commentary, on social media, from a former airport authority
board member on the amazing free dirt for a $57-million airport project... and the spin of the matter in the paper
"The Airport, is a mom and pop, consistently negative revenue, business disguised as an Airport Authority. The 'non public' meeting is
a standard operating practice designed to deceive, conceal, and make decisions behind closed doors. Who are the Air Transportation
and Facilities Consultants? No web site to be found. Don’t be surprised if the group is composed of local airport cronies.
"...The FAA and Pa Dot provide excellent guidance for Airport expansion i.e.. runway extensions. They provide a required sequence of
events that must be satisfied long before the ‘obtain free dirt” phase of construction.
"A copy of the mandatory Benefit Cost Analysis would be useful to determine the economics of runway extension and is a prerequisite
prior to FAA / Pa Dot approval. Where is that Analysis?"
John Cofchin, former airport authority board member, in an exert from his written comment this week in social media discussion, on
zimmerlink's blog, of the donated dirt which Commissioner Dave Lohr obtained free for a $57 million dollar airport project that may or may not
begin in our lifetimes;
Cofchin, who left the authority board without public comment several months before his term expired last year, and brought smiles this week to
readers happy to hear what's on his mind these days.
"Completing the runway extension is another piece in Lohr’s plan to build business in Fayette County. Materials make up half the cost of
the project, and Lohr has developed a plan for securing those materials at no cost to taxpayers."
heraldstandard.com, "Lohr to seek re-election to county commissioner seat," quoting the incumbent's plan to have free, donated dirt for a
$57,000,000 to $59,000,000 airport project that possibly still needs funding for loading, transporting, delivery, and then, spreading the free dirt, for
an airport project yet to begin after several years of planning
Vicites, Lohr arranged private meeting over airport dirt
RAVES to Fayette County Commissioner Angela Zimmerlink, honestly, for being a much better person than most of the rest of us would
be in her situation. Most of the rest of us, surely, at least once each administration, would have banged two heads together by now, if we
were sometimes in her chair and shoes. Read More.
Creditors jockeying in line for Cobblestone profits, repayments
RANTS that another news story runs of another creditor or partner or investor suing another or entering motions to stop some payments
in the ongoing saga of Connellsville's Cobblestone Hotel. Today's Daily Courier* tells us that Cobblestone now wants to stop a loan from
being issued to sustain the hotel day to day now. This follows recent motions from Fay Penn Economical Development Council to
secure its funding in the project in light of the owner's recent decision to try to sell the hotel.
RANTS because everyone but the kitchen sink seems to be awaiting repayments or returns on investments. Rants&Raves is told that
the county is owed hotel tax money from the Cobblestone.
Additionally to all funds owed already mentioned in newspapers, bankruptcy papers document that another interesting loan or line of
credit for $200,000, signed for by former commissioner Al Ambrosini, through the Slovak Savings Bank, remains due nearly in full,
after repayment was made for only about $5,000 of it since 2016.
RAVES of hope that the players, somehow, overcome the hurdles and one another... and turn the business around in a community that
needs jobs. (16 Mar 19)
*"Cobblestone Hotels files objections in city hotel bankruptcy"
Fay official about to be sued, ACLU asking about others
RANTS that a former employee's civil suit, in the works for several months, appears nearly filed against one Fayette County courthouse
official seeking re-election.
No other county official is expected to be named.
If that's not bad enough, Rants&Raves, in an unrelated matter, has received word that the ACLU is reaching out and asking about alleged
serious civil rights violations of others incarcerated, or formerly incarcerated at the county jail, not already part of a civil rights suit filed
last year on behalf of a few formerly incarcerated there.
RANTS that situations get so bad, even without newspaper coverage, that the advocates call in. (10 Mar 19)
"Quote Of The Day" from both sides of the same mouth
"Assistant District Attorney Sean Lementowski, in his closing arguments, noted that (Nathan) Yasek showed 'no brusing, no swelling' on
his body after the confrontation."
The Daily Courier, "Jury: Nathan Yasek not guilty of all charges," quoting ADA Lementowski in exclamation that Yasek showed no visible injuries
prior to shooting, supposedly in self-defense, in a fatal 2017 shooting, before the jury acquitted Yasek this week
"Why does Lementowski make an issue, since (Chris) Shellhammer sustained a broken jaw, a broken nose and a closed head injury
concussion before he shot in self-defense... and the county is still prosecuting him!"
Dave, this morning at the diner, reacting to the above referenced article in the paper, shaking his head and going on about how the county
prosecutors talk out of both sides of their mouths and should arm volunteers from that office to test their theories -- i.e., allow someone to beat the
crap out of them, to break their jaws, their noses and give them concussions, to test and see when they reach for a gun, loaded without their
knowledge with blanks, in self-defense to shoot
Can DA be gagged from hallway scream drama?
RANTS because, apparently, it got way uglier than we first thought, in a courthouse hallway Monday, when the district attorney
prevented some out of state family members of a defendant from entering the courtroom, even though none were to be witnesses in
While the turned away family members did not cause a disturbance, the district attorney, Rants&Raves is told, "was cursing and calling
someone a d***head associated with (the) case. Read More.
Not guilty on all charges
Fayette County jury tosses DA's 2017 homicide case out
courthouse window in 'about 15 minutes'
RANTS that a Fayette County jury needed only about 15 minutes to deliberate and find the defendant in a 2017 homicide not guilty on all
charges, including criminal homicide, aggravated assault and reckless endangerment, today in Judge Steve Leskinen's courtroom.
2016 gag order keeps defendant's family out of court?
Neither a RANT nor a RAVE, but a note that concerns were voiced today here that family members of defendant Michael Wright were not
permitted to enter a Fayette County courtroom today for one of his scheduled court dates. Reportedly, nobody stopped from entering
the courtroom was scheduled to be called as witnesses in the trial, which is said to be tried as a death penalty case.
As per sources, the county prosecutors cited the reason attendance was restricted was a 2016 gag order placed on witnesses and
lawyers in the case twice discussed on "The Nancy Grace Show" on television.
Wright and Andrea Dusha were charged three years ago with the starvation and dehydration death of their two-year-old daughter, Lydia
Wright. Dusha and the child returned to Wright's home after a 12-day absence two days prior to the child's death, feeding the child a
liquid bottle feeding of a Pedialyte mixture. Dusha accepted a controversial plea deal last fall with the county district attorney to testify
against Wright. (4 Mar 19)
DA does a good thing
RAVES to Fayette County District Attorney Richard Bower for offering the same exact plea deals to two men of different races charged
in a fatal heroin death of the one's cousin -- especially since the newspapers early on sometimes referred to only one as the defendant
and that some cautiously feared the case could create racial tension that the area just did not need. (2 Mar 19)
Staff violate client privacy in process?
County staff stab one another in back, take political jabs
RANTS to anonymous snail mailers not quite up to snuff on meeting even near minimal requirements for this column to take their call for
advocacy cause to heart. This is one of those times. Read More.
To Rants&Raves, January-February, 2019