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October 2012 Archives

Police call leads to warrantless search, drug arrests

Back on Oct. 10, we discussed how police officers in Pittsburgh sometimes search people's homes and seize property without having obtained a search warrant first. Though the Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution is generally interpreted to require that law enforcement obtain a warrant before entering and searching a home, exceptions to that rule do exist. In cases where officers conducted a warrantless search, the officers and prosecutors who bring charges based on the search's results often will claim one of these exceptions as justification.

Elderly ex-state rep too frail to go to trial, attorneys say

Attorneys for former Pennsylvania state Sen. Raphael Musto told the federal judge overseeing the criminal bribery case against him say their client is in poor health and his mental abilities have deteriorated, making it difficult for him to participate in his own defense. At a hearing held at the Wilkes-Barre federal courthouse the morning of Oct. 24, they asked the judge to postpone the case indefinitely, saying the stress of a trial could kill Musto who is 84.

Hearing postponed in Hines Ward extortion case

Fans of the Pittsburgh Steelers may have heard that an area man has been charged with attempting to blackmail former star wide receiver Hines Ward. The suspect, 26, is accused of asking Ward's personal assistant for $15,000 in exchange for not releasing evidence he said showed that Ward had visited a prostitute. He was arrested in mid-October and was scheduled to have a preliminary court hearing on Oct. 23, but that hearing has been rescheduled for December.

Ex-Pittsburgh Steelers doctor leveled with drug charges

Federal prosecutors have accused a Pittsburgh physician who was the team doctor for the Steelers for 20 years with supplying bodybuilders and other athletes with performance-enhancing drugs and painkillers over the past seven years. Two other men were also charged in what the U.S. Attorney's Office is calling a drug conspiracy.

Pennsylvania man accused of buying guns for man who killed cop

An Eastern Pennsylvania man has been arrested on charges that he purchased guns for a convicted felon. The man with the felony record shot and killed a police officer on Sep. 13 before committing suicide. Authorities say the gun used in that shooting was one of nine firearms the accused man purchased on the convicted felon's behalf. They described the suspect made "straw purchases" of the guns by representing that they were for himself.

Man says guilty plea 'would be a lie' in tax fraud case

In most cases where a person has been charged with a crime, there comes a time when the person and his or her attorney will discuss how they plan to plead. The question can be as simple as whether or not the accused person did what the government says he or she did, but often the issue is more complicated than that. For example, the prosecutor may have offered a plea bargain that includes the defendant pleading guilty in exchange for a lesser criminal penalty than he or she might risk getting at trial.

Man arrested after Pittsburgh police respond to fight call

Readers may be surprised to learn that Pittsburgh police arrested a local man on suspicion of marijuana dealing based on evidence they gathered while visiting his home on an unrelated matter. As a result of a pair of police searches of his home, the man was arrested on Oct. 8 on a variety of serious drug charges.

Excessive force suit against Pittsburgh police in federal court

A lawsuit alleging excessive force by police officers who arrested a man at a Pittsburgh bar in 2010 was transferred to federal court on Oct. 4 by city attorneys. The plaintiff in the case, who was arrested on several charges but was found not guilty on all counts, accuses the officers of permanently damaging his cheek bone by punching him and slamming his face against a brick wall.

Pennsylvania man accused of identity theft of baby who died in '53

Authorities claim that a western Pennsylvania resident used the Social Security number of an infant who died in 1953 to steal the baby's identity. The man, 59, who lives in Fayette County, has been charged with identity theft and tampering with records. The man allegedly obtained a second driver's license in the infant's name, though authorities are not making clear what they believe the man intended to do with the other license.

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