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Nine teens facing riot charges in Coalport shooting

COALPORT — Clearfield County District Attorney William A. Shaw, Jr., announced Tuesday that charges have been filed for a shooting incident that occurred in Coalport.

Shaw reported that criminal complaints have been filed against three adults. Shaw said that six juveniles have also been charged for their involvement with the incident.

Shaw identified the three adults as Cole Brown, 18, of Hickory Road, Indiana; Charles Smith, 19, of Philadelphia Street, Indiana; and Jasiah Williams, 18, of Philadelphia Street, Indiana.

On Oct. 7, 2019, Trooper Matthew Peacock filed criminal complaints charging the three adults with: riot, F3; and disorderly conduct, M3. Peacock also filed juvenile petitions charging four juveniles with riot, F3; and disorderly conduct. Two juveniles were charged with riot, possession of firearm by minor, F3; firearm not to be carried without a license, F3; terroristic threats, M1; propulsion of missiles onto roadway, M2; recklessly endangering another person, M2; and disorderly conduct, M3.

An affidavit of probable cause filed with the complaints provides that on June 26, 2019, at 9:14, p.m. the defendants were part of a group of eight individuals who went to Coalport Borough to engage in a fight with a resident of Coalport.

The defendants located the resident and another group of individuals on the sidewalk outside of 531 Main St. in Coalport Borough. Two juveniles with the defendants’ group had ball bats that were used during the altercation. Two other known juveniles had handguns that were discharged. Video taken from the Coalport Alliance Church was used during the investigation.

The juveniles charged will be scheduled for juvenile court and their identity is concealed by law. Shaw stated the three adults were arraigned by Magisterial District Judge James Glass.

Preliminary hearings are scheduled for Oct. 16.

Brown was released on $50,000 unsecured bail.

Williams and Smith are currently lodged in Clearfield County Jail on $2,500 cash bail each.

“This has been a very intensive investigation by the State Police to identify those involved with this incident,” Shaw said in a statement. “I am very aware of the issues facing Coalport Borough and I am working very hard with the State Police to investigate, identify, and prosecute those who are causing the problems.

“I can tell you that more arrests are coming out of Coalport. We have been working that area hard and people are going to be arrested. With the help of the State Police and concerned citizens, I am going to clean-up the criminal element in Coalport,” Shaw said. “Drug dealers and those committing crime in Coalport need to abandon their criminal activity. I can tell you with certainty we know who you are, and you are going to be arrested,” Shaw said.

Anyone with knowledge or information about a crime is asked to call Clearfield County Crime Stoppers at (800) 376-4700.

All calls to Crime Stoppers are confidential. Anonymous tips can also be submitted by visiting the Clearfield County District Attorney web site at “www.ClearfieldDA.org” and selecting “Report A Crime.”

Bigler Township:
Bigler Township: Officials explain cop displaying service weapon in social media video

MADERA — A recent video that circulated on social media involving Bigler Township Regional Police Officer Tim O’Leary pulling his service weapon on citizens was discussed during Monday night’s Bigler Township Supervisors meeting.

Chairman R. Philbert Myers spoke of the video near the beginning of Monday’s meeting, stating he also watched it.

“I’m very confident it was well-deserved,” Myers said. “I put my two cents in to Mr. O’Leary that if you have to pull your firearm on anybody to diffuse any situation, there needs to be charges brought fort. So if anybody is going to be upset down the road that he’s done his job, they can come attack me and not him.”

O’Leary explained more of the video to the handful of residents in attendance, stating it was only a “portion of the video” that was released. He also stated individuals in a truck shown in the video were not kids.

“They were all adults,” O’Leary said. “The one that was recording it was 40 years old.”

O’Leary identified the man taking the video at the meeting, stating he has been “in and out of the system,” while also stating the ages of others involved and mentioning another person’s recent skirmish with State Police.

“They posted what they wanted to post, the person in that video,” O’Leary said.

O’Leary said one of the people was removed from the vehicle while making disparaging remarks back at him and eventually all of them left the vehicle.

“When they jumped out of that vehicle, I didn’t know what they were going to do,” O’Leary said. “They could’ve been armed, I didn’t know that. If you’ll notice in that video, my firearm was not pointed at them, (and was) with what they call a ‘high ready’ in case I was forced to use that.”

O’Leary also said there were rumors that the person was pulled over for tailgating, to which O’Leary said was not true.

“I was sitting out front of the police department in my police vehicle,” O’Leary said. “I literally walked out of my office and sat in my police vehicle. He drove up next to my vehicle, piped me and took off at a high rate of speed up over the hill. By the time I pulled out, he was already to the top of that hill. That’s when he pulled into (a resident’s) driveway.”

O’Leary said at that point, he was concerned of his own safety in being outnumbered.

“They will be receiving charges,” O’Leary said.

Ironically, O’Leary said without the video, he would have only been able to charge the driver with a traffic violation, “as it was four against one.”

However, since the video was posted to social media, O’Leary said, “Now I have the evidence to pursue for disorderly conduct.”

Commissioners hear of local connection to importance of census count

Clearfield County Commissioners continued the board’s push to ensure all county residents are counted in the upcoming 2020 census.

Every 10 years, the federal government takes an official survey to ensure everyone living in the United States is counted.

The commissioners have noted, at previous meetings, the importance of all Clearfield County residents being included in the formal count so that federal funds continue to be dispersed to local organizations including municipal and county governments, local school districts and social organizations who depend on those funds to serve underprivaleged county residents.

Tuesday, Executive Officer Mary Jones of the Clearfield County League on Social Services told the commissioners the agency, which oversees programs that ensure the health and education of children, age birth to third grade, wants to make sure those programs continue being funded to the fullest amount they are entitled to received.

“(The federal government) is funding programs that affect the residents of Clearfield County,” Jones said. She provided an example of a county family of five where each member qualifies for $2,000 worth of federally-funded programs’ services or $10,000 each year that could go away if all county residents either choose not to or fail to be counted. “Over a 10-year period that number grows to $100,000 in grants that could be lost,” she explained.

Jones noted in past census’ counts, Clearfield County residents were underreported by as much as 20 percent. She added she believes part of the problem could be because residents don’t understand that their information cannot be shared with outside agencies such as law enforcement. “Everyone who works for the Census takes a life-long oath not to release any information,” she noted.

For the upcoming census, residents will have options for reporting information. She said they can share their data online, use a toll-free telephone number or complete the survey received and return it by mail.

Jones told the commissioners and the audience at Tuesday’s meeting to spread the word about the census and encourage those they know to participate saying there is a lot of federal funding at stake.

“We have a lot of people in Clearfield County that can benefit from those programs,” she said.

In a related matter, Commissioner John Sobel reported, the county has only received one letter of interest from a resident to participate in the Correct Count Census Committee. The committee would help ensure an accurate count is taken in the county.

“We have only had one volunteer since we put the word out. We are looking for interested residents who can help with allowing the census to be done as officially as possible,” Sobel said.

rmurawski / Submitted Photo 

PA State Rep. Tommy Sankey speaks to Scouts

PA State Rep. Tommy Sankey speaks to Scouts

Coalport Boro facing legal battle over liquor license denial

COALPORT — Borough Council reported on Monday that Nittany Oil Co., State College, owner of the local Minit Mart convenience store, has filed a civil action complaint against the borough in the Clearfield County Court of Common Pleas.

The appeal was filed Oct. 4 following a decision made by council at its Sept. 9 meeting to deny the company’s request to transfer a liquor license into the borough that would allow the store located at 1135 Main St., Coalport, to sell liquor.

The document notes the borough received a written request from Nittany, dated Aug. 9, asking council to schedule a public hearing on the company’s petition to transfer the license. On Sept. 9, as part of its monthly business meeting, council held a properly-advertised public meeting regarding the company’s request, the complaint states.

The complaint notes the company’s legal counsel, Attorney Mark Kozar of Flaherty & O’Hara Professional Corporation, Pittsburgh, and its Operations Manager Emerson Reams attended the Sept. 9 hearing and addressed council, borough business owners and residents, regarding the company’s plans to sell beer and wine at the store and expand the facility to add seating for up to 30 people so that it would meet state requirements.

Reams also noted if Nittany could acquire the license, the expansion would include a beer cave that would be open from 7 a.m. to 1:45 a.m. daily.

At the Sept. 9 hearing, about 10 business owners and residents spoke asking council to deny the request. Their reasons included the expanded store would take sales away from existing borough businesses who are already selling liquor, the close proximity of the store to both the Coalport United Methodist Church and the Assembly of God Church and their belief an additional source of liquor sales could add to the existing problems with vandalism and loitering in close proximity to the store.

Several council members said, following council’s vote, they voted no to the liquor license transfer request because they wanted to support both local businesses who are already licensed establishments and resident’s concerns.

The petition states council failed to issue a written resolution denying Nittany’s request as required by the state’s liquor code and failed to set forth findings of fact for the denial. “Consequently, Nittany is unable to identify specific reasons the borough denied Nittany’s request for the intermunicipal transfer of the license and accordingly Nittany is unable to set forth the specific grounds upon which the borough erred,” it notes.

It asks the court to determine whether council’s decision was in accordance with the law and whether the company’s rights were violated and requests its appeal be granted.

Following the announcement at Monday’s meeting, council discussed the complaint opting to send the document to Attorney Ryan Sayers of Clearfield, who was hired as the borough’s solicitor at Monday’s meeting.

Councilman Kevin Swauger said he believed a meeting should be held between council and the borough’s business owners and residents who attended the public hearing and urged council to deny Nittany’s request.

“I think we should schedule a meeting and ask the business owners what they want us to do. We want to support local businesses,” Swauger said.

President Barby Trent agreed.

“I think business owners have the right to discuss this with council.” She also noted as did Councilman Joe Adams, the borough does not have funds to fight the complaint.

Council set Monday, Oct. 14 at 7 p.m. as the date for the meeting.

Former Hyde fire chief sentenced to jail for theft

The former Chief of the Hyde Vol. Fire Company was sentenced to jail by President Judge Fredric J. Ammerman for stealing from the fire company.Shane R. Nevling, 36, of Clearfield pleaded guilty to access device fraud, a felony of the third degree; theft by unlawful taking, identity theft and receiving stolen property, all of which are misdemeanors of the first degree; and was sentenced to serve two months to one year in the Clearfield County Jail plus one year consecutive probation.

He was also ordered to pay $686.88 to Lawrence Township, which was paid in full, according to Assistant District Attorney Jendi Schwab. Ammerman also prohibited Nevling from holding any financial or fiduciary position where he would handle money with any other fire company or volunteer organization.

Ammerman also fined Nevling a total of $400 plus costs.

Nevling apologized to the fire company, the township and the community for what he did.

“I let them all down and I apologize,” Nevling said.

He also asked Ammerman if he would spare him from doing any jail time, but Ammerman declined his request and sentenced him to a minimum of two months.

It was a structured plea agreement where Nevling would serve a minimum of two months in jail if he paid restitution in full prior to sentencing; if he had failed to pay restitution in full he would have served a minimum of four months in jail, according to Schwab.According to a previous article in The Progress, Lawrence Township police conducted an investigation into the misuse of Lawrence Township funds that allegedly occurred between September and December 2018.

According to the affidavit of probable cause, Lawrence Township Supervisor Jeremy Ruffner received a telephone call from a local firefighter who observed a new model green Mazda Tribute SUV with a red light on the roof acquiring fuel at Pacific Pride/J.J. Powell fuel station on U.S. Route 322 on Dec. 16 around 2:30 p.m.

The witness questioned Ruffner why a firefighter would be permitted to put fuel into his personal vehicle. Ruffner told police that this type of practice is not permitted and is a theft.

In many of the instances, Nevling used another firefighter’s code to use the credit card in question. The total cost of thefts between the time period that was investigated was $599.74.

Nevling was represented by Attorney Kenneth Pennington of Clearfield.

Teaser for 10-9-19

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