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May 2012 Archives

Leader of Amish sect's behavior to be issue at trial

Prosecutors in connection with an alleged beard-cutting incident among Amish people will be allowed to argue to the jury that one of the defendants had undue influence over his community after the judge in the case rejected the defendant's motion on May 29. Defense attorneys had argued that the prosecutors' only purpose in painting the defendant as the unquestioned leader of the community was to prejudice the jury against him.

Guns returned to man who pleaded to sub-felony crime

Some ill-conceived comments by a former airport worker about shooting President Obama led to the man serving 30 days in jail and a ruling that he had to give up his collection of 70 guns. But the court of appeals in the man's home state recently ruled that there was no legal reason to seize the man's collection and that he was not a threat to the president.

'Sexting' between teenagers may trigger child pornography charges

Parents in Pittsburgh have likely heard that teenagers sometimes take risqué photographs of themselves on their cell phones and share the photos with their boyfriends or girlfriends. What the teens and their parents may not realize is that authorities in Pennsylvania are prosecuting this practice, known as "sexting," as a form of distribution of child pornography, no matter if the people involved are themselves minors.

Second falsely arrested man suing city of Pittsburgh

The arrests of two Pittsburgh-area men in 2010 that were later overturned by video evidence have resulted in a second lawsuit. As in the previous suit, the plaintiff is accusing two Pittsburgh police officers of arresting him on drug charges without probable cause and lying on the arrest affidavit.

With federal charges, rights restricted even before trial

When someone in Pittsburgh is charged with a crime in federal court, he or she will often find that the court will put serious restrictions on his or her freedom - even though the accused person has not even been put on trial yet, let alone convicted of anything. These court-ordered limitations tend to be imposed by request of the prosecution, which tends to believe the accused person would hide or destroy evidence or try to avoid trial by leaving the country otherwise. They are often conditions for getting out of jail on bond.

Transient man arrested for alleged threats

A Pennsylvania transient man is facing various charges including the threat of using a weapon towards police officers. He has been charged with terroristic threats (presumably related to weapons charges), resisting arrest, institutional vandalism of an educational facility and disorderly conduct.

Ex-Pennsylvania state senator pleads guilty to fraud, tax evasion

A familiar name to those who follow Pennsylvania state politics is facing possible prison time after pleading guilty to federal charges related to how he ran two of his political campaigns. Former State Senator Bob Mellow entered his guilty plea to charges of mail fraud and tax evasion in federal court on May 9, putting an end to a 40-year political career.

Man's disability does not reduce child pornography sentence

Despite arguments from his defense attorney that a western Pennsylvania man's medical condition forced him to take huge amounts of pain medication, which rendered him incapable of reoffending, the judge in the man's child pornography trial sentenced him to eight years in prison on May 1.

Police lock out suburban Pittsburgh family after finding chemicals

A family in the northern suburbs of Pittsburgh has been barred by authorities from entering their home after police said they found "a large amount of marijuana" and chemicals they originally believed may have been used to make bombs. Except for a brief, police-escorted visit to pick up some personal items, the family has not been inside their home since officers broke up a party there on April 28. No criminal charges have been filed against any of the residents of the home, who include a woman and three of her children.

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