Crime

U.S. Department of Justice

The U.S. attorney’s office in Pittsburgh is elevating one prosecutor in each of four Western Pennsylvania counties to the status of Special Assistant United States Attorney in an effort to fight back against gun crime in the region.

U.S. Attorney David Hickton Tuesday launched the program that will allow cases to more easily move from state to federal court.

“The decision on whether it goes state or federal is usually a collaborative discussion between the U.S. attorney and the district attorney," Hickton said. "And the decision is usually based on where you can get the best sentence. It also is based at the investigative level on the resources that are needed.”

Johnstown’s Tribune-Democrat, in Western Pennsylvania, recently conducted an online survey to evaluate progress on local issues. Johnstown is a shrinking industrial city with a nearly 9-percent unemployment rate, and one of the worst-funded pension systems in the state.

An Update on the Manhunt for Eric Frein

Sep 23, 2014
Matt Slocum / The Associated Press

As the search continues for the man accused of ambushing two state troopers more than a week ago, killing one and wounding another, we'll get an update on the manhunt from AP reporter Michael Rubinkam.

The overall crime rate in Pittsburgh for 2013 was reduced by 6.6 percent over 2012, according to the city’s Department of Public Safety. The drop is credited, primarily, to a decrease in property crimes.

Violent crime is down by 2.6 percent, but when broken down into categories, all violent crime categories, except for robbery, increased. Robbery dropped 15.8 percent over 2012.

The number of rapes is up, but a news release from the Department of Public Safety attributed the rise to the inclusion of male victims in the Uniform Crime Reporting definition of rape.  

Reporter Debrief on the Sentencing of Nate Harper

Feb 26, 2014
File Photo / 90.5 WESA

Former Pittsburgh Police Chief, Nate Harper, has been sentenced to 18 months in prison for conspiring to create an unauthorized slush fund.

U.S. District Judge Cathy Bissoon also ordered the 61-year-old Harper to repay $31,986 from the fund that he spent on himself.

90.5 WESA’s reporter Deanna Garcia says the sentencing was not surprising for most people, but Harper’s family and legal team were disappointed.

In the Case of Nate Harper, Does the Punishment Fit the Crime?

Feb 26, 2014
University of Pittsburgh Law School

Roughly one year ago Nate Harper resigned from his post as Pittsburgh Police Chief. Soon after his resignation, Harper was indicted with conspiracy charges and failing to file tax returns.

Yesterday US District Judge Cathy Bissoon sentenced Harper to 18 months in prison as well as repayment of the $31,986 for the slush fund that he spent on himself.

Cambria County Guardianship Agency Under Investigation

Feb 10, 2014
Halle Stockton / Public Source

The Social Security Administration is investigating the alleged embezzlement of funds from a Cambria County guardianship agency, which handles the finances of incapacitated people under its care.

Reporter Halle Stockton has been covering this story for Public Source.

Mehfuz Hossain / flickr

People share so much of their lives on social media, from vacation photos to music and book choices. This over-sharing of information has extended to the bold and casual admittance of criminal activity.

David Harris, Distinguished Faculty Scholar and Professor of Law University of Pittsburgh School of Law says the rape case in Steubenville, Ohio is an example of how ever-present social media can play an important role in criminal cases.

'Sarah’s Amendment' Faces Vote in Harrisburg

Nov 18, 2013

About 60 percent of stalking victims aren't currently able to obtain a restraining order in Pennsylvania, according to numbers from the Bureau of Justice Statistics. Under current law, PA victims can only obtain one if their stalker is a relative or someone they dated.

Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathleen Kane has joined top prosecutors in San Francisco and New York in a nationwide initiative to thwart smartphone thefts by rendering the devices useless after a robbery.

The “Secure Our Smartphones” initiative was introduced in Pennsylvania by New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman this week. It’s a collaboration among attorneys general and municipal leaders asking cell phone manufacturers to develop a “kill switch” for stolen phones.

The Better Business Bureau is urging consumers to take a hands-on approach in monitoring financial records after five Russian and Ukrainian hackers were charged with stealing 160 million credit card numbers over seven years.

Caitlin Vancas, spokeswoman for the BBB of Western Pennsylvania, said people need to take a closer look at their bills and statements in order to stay secure.

The U.S. Supreme Court's ruling last June that juveniles cannot be sentenced to mandatory life in prison without the possibility of parole is now having repercussions in Pennsylvania.  

The high court ruling meant the commonwealth had to determine what to do with the approximately 400 juveniles tried in adult proceedings who fell into that category.

Last week the Pennsylvania Supreme Court tossed out the sentence for Qu'eed Batts, of Northampton County, who was 14 when he fatally shot a man. The state's top court ordered that Batts be re-sentenced.

The Pennsylvania Department of Corrections found that the State Intermediate Punishment, or SIP Program helps reduce recidivism and saves the state money. But a recent report from the DOC found that from 2010 through 2012, the program was not used to its full potential, especially in larger counties.