A Pittsburgh man who authorities once described as one of the top drug traffickers in Western Pennsylvania says he is a changed man since his release from prison after six-plus years. Federal prosecutors appear to agree. Despite recently charging the man with a weapons crime, the U.S. attorney prosecuting the case worked out a plea agreement in which the man was sentenced to four months in prison, with most of that being credited as time served.
Are you being investigated for possible federal felonies? You might not know it until charges land at your door. That is due to the secretive nature of grand juries, the method prosecutors with which U.S. attorney's offices in Western Pennsylvania and across the U.S. obtain indictments against citizens they wish to prosecute on federal charges.
In many felony cases that are tried in Pittsburgh courts, prosecutors present DNA evidence to the jury. Due to the popularity of television shows that feature forensic scientists, people often are impressed by such evidence because it appears to narrow down the number of people who could have committed the crime to the defendant.
Back on Dec. 17, we discussed the arrest of a 21-year-old Pittsburgh man in connection with an online video in which two men appear to threaten police officers. The man was accused of being one of the people in the video and was facing possible federal charges, perhaps including terrorism charges. In an update to that story, an 18-year-old man was arrested on Jan. 8, apparently on suspicion of being the other performer in the video, which the older man's defense attorney said contained free speech protected by the First Amendment.
People in Pittsburgh who visit the online video site YouTube have probably watched many videos of everyday people giving their point of view on a topic. The subjects may range from politics to commenting on sports or personal matters. Perhaps readers have uploaded such a video themselves.
Most people in Pittsburgh know that the federal government aggressive prosecutes those suspected of drug trafficking. With federal sentencing guidelines forcing courts to impose lengthy sentences in many cases, a drug charge in federal court can be very serious for residents of Pennsylvania.
An 87-year-old Pennsylvania man could be deported out of the country if the Justice Department's decision is upheld on appeal. The man, who has lived in Mercer County for 56 years, was discovered to have been a guard at a pair of Nazi death camps in the 1940s. The government, citing federal law, is seeking to invalidate his U.S. citizenship and send him back to his home country of Croatia. But the man's attorney says that case law has evolved on the question of former child soldiers like his client.
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.
A ramp worker at Pittsburgh International Airport is being investigated by the Transportation Security Administration for allegedly bypassing normal security checks before attempting to board a flight. While no one believes that the woman posed a security risk, she still could be fined by TSA after it completes its investigation.
A Pittsburgh-area man who is charged with tax fraud is asking the federal court to dismiss the charges against him because the prosecutor assigned to his case was privy to private conversations between himself and a prospective defense attorney. Some outside observers agree that the U.S. Attorney Office's made a "dysfunctional" decision to have the prosecutor take the case despite the apparent conflict of interest.