Metro Beat: DA seeks death in Pittsburgh sisters’ slayings

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PITTSBURGH (AP) – A prosecutor plans to seek the death penalty against a Pittsburgh man jailed on charges he killed his next-door neighbors, sisters of an Iowa state lawmaker.

Allegheny County District Attorney Stephen Zappala Jr.’s office filed documents Wednesday listing five “aggravating circumstances” he plans to argue warrant the death penalty against 43-year-old Allen Wade, should he be convicted of killing Susan and Sarah Wolfe.

Among others, Zappala contends Sarah Wolfe was killed when she returned home to find Susan Wolfe killed the night of Feb. 6, meaning Wade allegedly killed a murder witness. Their bodies were found the next morning when they didn’t go to work.

The women were the sisters of Democratic Iowa state Rep. Mary Wolfe.

Defense attorney Blaine Jones, who represented Wade at a preliminary hearing last month, said he no longer represents Wade.

 

Abuse letters prompts allegations against 4 clergy

PITTSBURGH (AP) – Letters to alumni of Pittsburgh’s North Catholic High School prompted by reports that a former teacher is being prosecuted for child-sex crimes in Australia has resulted in new allegations against four other brothers from the same religious order – three of whom are dead.

The Catholic Diocese of Pittsburgh says only one graduate contacted church officials about Marianist Brother Bernard Hartman. The 74-year-old clergyman is awaiting trial in Australia on charges he molested four students at a Catholic school there in the 1970s and 80s.

When Pittsburgh officials learned of those charges earlier this year, they alerted alumni because Hartman also taught at the school briefly in 1961, 1970 and then from 1986-97.

The new allegations have been turned over to prosecutors, though the only living brother newly accused now lives outside the country.

 

Fed suit against for-profit colleges can proceed

PITTSBURGH (AP) – A Justice Department lawsuit against a Pittsburgh-based company that runs more than 100 for-profit secondary schools for artists, chefs and other trades nationwide can continue even though the company has provided statistics that it claims shows its recruiters weren’t illegally paid, a federal judge ruled.

The lawsuit contends Education Management Corp. has exaggerated its career placement abilities and paid recruiters using illegal enrollment-based incentives. The Justice Department and attorneys general from 13 states want the school to forfeit more than $11 billion the company received in federal and state student aid it’s received since 2003.

The school said the allegations aren’t true. Two years ago, it presented reams of statistics and records it says prove recruiters weren’t solely paid on enrollment statistics, which is illegal.

But U.S. District Judge Terrence McVerry says the company-generated statistics don’t prove anything and could support the government’s claim of a company-wide conspiracy.

“To put it starkly, plaintiffs allege a coordinated, multibillion-dollar corporate-wide fraud,” McVerry wrote in an 11-page opinion Tuesday. “The fact that EDMC’s paperwork and salary database appear to be compliant, on its face, is entirely consistent with plaintiffs’ theory of the case.”

EDMC spokesman Chris Hardman said the company believes the case is “without merit” and will continue to defend itself.

The lawsuit was filed in 2007 by two former whistle-blowing employees but had remained sealed and unknown to the public until the U.S. Justice Department and the attorneys general of California, Florida, Indiana and Illinois intervened to join the lawsuit in 2011.

The company has 110 colleges and universities across North America, including Argosy University, The Art Institutes, Brown Mackie Colleges and South University. It offers academic programs through campus-based and online instruction.

If the government wins the lawsuit, EDMC could be forced to repay triple the amount of student aid it received, plus penalties. The company, which has about 23,000 employees, including 2,000 in Pittsburgh, has laid off about 200 employees nationwide and sold off its Art Institute of Pittsburgh building in recent months.

 

Weak weld to be fixed at Pennsylvania nuke plant

SHIPPINGPORT, Pa. (AP) – FirstEnergy Corp. says a weak weld has been found on the reactor head of one unit at a western Pennsylvania nuclear power plant, which must be fixed before the reactor is restarted.

Company spokeswoman Jennifer Young says the reactor was shut down for refueling and maintenance when the company’s inspectors found a weak weld among 66 on the plant’s Unit 2 reactor vessel head.

Nuclear Regulatory Commission spokesman Neil Sheehan says the flaw, left untreated, could have developed into a crack. He and Young say a new weld with a different alloy will be used to fix the problem.

The plant about 30 miles northwest of Pittsburgh replaced its Unit 1 reactor in 2006. The Unit 2 reactor vessel head, installed in 1987, is scheduled for replacement in 2017. The weld problem will not affect that schedule.

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