Pennsylvania sees 3rd rating downgrade in 2 years
HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) - New York-based credit ratings agency Moody's Investors Service is slapping a lower rating on Pennsylvania's debt for the second time in two years, as state government grapples annually with built-in budget deficits.
Monday's downgrade of $11.1 billion general obligation bonds from Aa2 to Aa3 means Pennsylvania is ranked among the six worst states in Moody's ratings for the 47 states with general obligation debt.
Moody's cited Pennsylvania's growing structural deficit and weak reserves. It also says the state's modest economic growth is unlikely to keep up with its growing pension liabilities.
Fitch Ratings downgraded Pennsylvania last year, and Standard & Poor's has warned it could downgrade Pennsylvania if it didn't see significant strides to address deficits and pension liabilities.
FREIGHT TRAIN-TWO KILLED
Freight train kills 2 men in eastern Pennsylvania
EMMAUS, Pa. (AP) - Authorities say that two young men are dead in eastern Pennsylvania after being struck by a freight train while crossing railroad tracks.
Lehigh County Coroner Scott Grim says his office is working to identify the two victims in Monday's accident in suburban Allentown. It happened around 3:30 p.m. Autopsies have been scheduled for Tuesday.
Pennsylvania State Police are investigating.
Norfolk Southern says the eastbound train involved was a mixed-freight train weighing 4,837 tons on its way to Allentown. The track speed there is 40 mph, although Norfolk Southern spokesman Dave Pidgeon says he doesn't know how fast the train was going.
He says the two crew members on board were uninjured, and directed other questions to police.
Police: Couple killed by suspects hired for chores
PHILADELPHIA (AP) - Authorities in Philadelphia say two men hired to do household chores strangled a retired couple after the wife caught one trying to steal money.
Police on Monday charged 26-year-old Terry Ballard and 19-year-old Justen Smith with murder, robbery and related offenses. It's not clear if they have attorneys.
A family member found Rufus and Gladys Perry dead early Thursday. Homicide Capt. James Clark says the suspects were let in hours before to do odd jobs around the home.
Clark says one man tried to steal an envelope filled with cash and 66-year-old Gladys Perry was strangled when she confronted him. Police say 79-year-old Rufus Perry was strangled and smothered with a pillow while trying to save his wife.
Clark says the suspects took $120 and a gold necklace.
Eagles player charged with shoving Arizona officer
TEMPE, Ariz. (AP) - A Philadelphia Eagles player is facing charges in Arizona after authorities say he pushed a police officer investigating a bar brawl.
Officials said Keelan Johnson, a first-year safety, was arrested early Saturday following a confrontation with officers outside a bar in the Phoenix suburb of Tempe, home of Arizona State University. Johnson played in 49 games for the school.
A probable cause statement says Johnson "violently pushed" an officer in the chest, causing him to strike his head against a tree. Police say Johnson appeared drunk and refused officers' orders.
He has been charged with aggravated assault on a police officer, resisting arrest and disorderly conduct.
Eagles spokesman Derak Boyko said the team is disappointed in Johnson's arrest but is still trying to gather the facts.
It was not known if Johnson had an attorney.
ROCK ON CAR
New charges in rock-throwing that injured teacher
MIFFLINBURG, Pa. (AP) - Three Pennsylvania teenagers now stand charged as adults in a highway rock-throwing incident in Pennsylvania that left an Ohio teacher critically injured.
Seventeen-year-old Milton resident Tyler Gregory Porter appeared in court Monday on charges including aggravated assault and conspiracy.
Two other teens were previously arrested on those counts.
Sunbury's The Daily Item newspaper reports a fourth participant has been charged as a juvenile.
State police say the teens drove to an Interstate 80 overpass July 10 to throw rocks. One large rock blasted through a car windshield and hit 52-year-old Uniontown, Ohio, resident Sharon Budd in the face. She's in critical condition.
Porter didn't have a lawyer for Monday's hearing. Court records say he told police another boy threw the rock that hit Budd's car.
PIANO REPAIRMAN-SEX STING
School piano repairman guilty in child sex sting
UNIONTOWN, Pa. (AP) - A piano repairman has pleaded guilty to seeking sex from an officer posing as a 14-year-old girl, using the Internet connection of a western Pennsylvania charter school where he worked.
Sixty-four-year-old Theodore Mamel, of Export, pleaded guilty Monday in Fayette County to child pornography and criminal use of a computer charges. He faces one to two years in prison when he's sentenced Wednesday under a plea agreement.
Mamel was arrested in February when he drove to Belle Vernon to meet the "girl" who turned out to be an undercover police office.
Police contacted Mamel after he posted a Craigslist ad seeking teen girls who want "to try new things with an older man. Age no barrier."
Police say Mamel used the Internet at Lincoln Park Performing Arts Center in Midland, Beaver County, to contact the "girl."
POLICE DISPATCHER-BRIBERY CHARGES
Philly dispatcher pleads guilty in towing scheme
PHILADELPHIA (AP) - Prosecutors say a former Philadelphia police radio dispatcher has pleaded guilty to federal bribery and fraud charges and acknowledged that she took money to help circumvent efforts to crack down on tow-truck operators.
The U.S. attorney's office said Monday that 44-year-old Dorian Parsley accepted more than $35,000 in bribes to feed information on locations of where police needed tow trucks.
Parsley faces a maximum of 35 years in prison.
The police department has a program to rotate assignments among tow trucks to avoid conflicts at the scene of a crime or accident. Prosecutors say Parsley used her personal phone to text the confidential information to tow truck drivers who paid the bribes.
Prosecutors say auto-body shop owner William Cheeseman also pleaded guilty to a bribery count for paying Parsley.
Report: Retaliation for complaints common at VA
WASHINGTON (AP) - A report by a private government watchdog says medical professionals across the country have pointed out problems at the Department of Veterans Affairs, only to suffer retaliation from supervisors and other high-ranking officials.
The report says a pharmacy supervisor in California was placed on leave after complaining about errors and delays in delivering medications to patients. In Pennsylvania, a doctor was removed from clinical work after complaining that on-call doctors were refusing to go to a VA hospital.
The report compiled by the independent Project on Government Oversight is based on comments and complaints filed by nearly 800 current and former VA employees and veterans. The group says it received allegations of wrongdoing from 35 states and the District of Columbia after setting up a special website in May.
Man arrested in Pa. has long gambling cheat record
LAS VEGAS (AP) - Nevada gambling regulators say a Las Vegas man arrested over the weekend at a Pennsylvania casino has been on their radar as a casino cheat since 1999.
Forty-year-old Jubreal Chahine was spotted Saturday afternoon at the Sands Casino Resort in Bethlehem. Police took him into custody without incident after being alerted by Sands employees.
Chahine is one of seven men on the Nevada Gaming Control Board's most wanted list.
The board's enforcement chief, Karl Bennison, said that's because Chahine has been arrested numerous times over the past 15 years and has been flagged by a "laundry list" of Las Vegas Strip casinos.
Nazi war crimes suspect, 89, hospitalized in US
PHILADELPHIA (AP) - A Nazi war crimes suspect has been hospitalized while awaiting an extradition hearing in Philadelphia.
A court order issued Monday notes 89-year-old Johann Breyer has been hospitalized but doesn't cite his condition.
Breyer's attorney hasn't returned a call seeking comment. His lawyers have said he's in frail health.
Breyer has been in federal custody since his arrest last month at his longtime home in Philadelphia.
German authorities hope to try him on accessory-to-murder charges for his guard service at the Auschwitz death camp in 1944.
The retired toolmaker has denied taking part in the mass killing of Jews and others.
U.S. Magistrate Judge Timothy Rice cancelled an extradition hearing scheduled for Thursday, citing Breyer's hospitalization. He says he'll make a decision based on written arguments.
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