Elizabeth Forward school director, girlfriend held for court in burglary case
An Elizabeth Forward school director and his girlfriend were held for trial on charges stemming from a burglary at her mother's Port Vue house.
“She crushed me,” Linda Hickman said after Tuesday's preliminary hearing in Glassport for her daughter Linda Lee Baker, 41, of West Mifflin and Francis J. Posa, 47, of Elizabeth.
“That's whom she was living with when I went in the hospital,” Baker's mother testified before Magisterial District Judge Armand Martin.
Hickman said the burglary of jewelry and coins occurred a day after she went in for surgery to deal with a resurgence of cancer.
“I've beaten it before,” Hickman said after the hearing. “I'm going to beat it again.”
Posa, who was elected to the Elizabeth Forward board last November, and Baker are charged with receiving stolen property. Baker also is charged with burglary and theft by unlawful taking.
The Glassport magistrate said Allegheny County assistant district attorney Jonathan Lusty presented a prima facie case and ordered May 14 formal arraignments for Posa and Baker in Pittsburgh.
Posa's attorney Charles LoPresti of Jefferson Hills argued that Lusty did not present a prima facie case against his client for a receiving stolen property charge.
Baker is represented by Allegheny County assistant public defender Max Cotton, who asked few questions in cross-examination but did elicit a “No” when he asked Hickmanif she saw anyone take the jewelry and coins. Hickman was in the hospital on Jan. 27, and the coins and jewelry allegedly were taken to dealers on Jan. 28.
LoPresti stressed in his argument that “this whole case is Baker, Baker, Baker,” while Posa “has mere presence here.”
“We have the defendant (Baker),” Lusty said. “She's dating Mr. Posa. He's the one providing the (identification).”
Martin said he understood LoPresti's argument but pointed to testimony against Posa when coins and jewelry were taken to Treasure Hunt in Belle Vernon.
“He didn't want a check,” Treasure Hunt employee Crystal Dillon testified. “But (Baker) persuaded him to go ahead and take the check (instead of cash for the items).”
All counts in the case are felonies, prompting LoPresti to question how those counts were graded.
“Grading does not come into play at a preliminary hearing,” Martin said.
Lusty pointed to a photocopy of the paperwork filled out at Treasure Hunt, showing that more than $2,000 was exchanged for items taken there.
LoPresti pressed Dillon on specifics.
“Linda was taking items out of a bag, Francis was taking things out of his pocket,” Dillon testified.
“You don't know what he gave you, ” LoPresti insisted.
Allegheny County Police Detective Edward Adams testified that Baker admitted taking the items during an interview outside the West Mifflin courtroom of Magisterial District Judge Richard D. Olasz Jr., where she still owes fines from a 2011 case.
Posa was not approached by county police until his arraignment before Martin.
“Mr. Posa declined to give a statement,” Adams said.
Posa remained free on nonmonetary bond.
Lusty said Baker's relatives are afraid that she will flee to Georgia, but Cotton argued that his client could be released to a halfway house if her bond was reduced.
Martin reduced Baker's bond from $10,000 to nonmonetary, noting that the bond is concurrent with an obligation to settle $274.50 in fines and costs.
Baker owes those fees after pleading guilty to summary disorderly conduct charges before Olasz in September 2011.
She is scheduled for a payment determination hearing before the West Mifflin magistrate on April 3 at 9 a.m.
Patrick Cloonan is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-664-9161, ext. 1967, or email@example.com.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Sixth Ward club concerns McKeesport council
- Judge recuses himself from South Allegheny teacher’s case
- McKeesport considers military banner program
- Elizabeth commissioners agree to include bill list on agenda
- Wilmerding mayor suggests parking crackdown
- Dispute over iconic McKeesport lounge headed back to court
- Former White Oak shelter executive sentenced for theft
- Elizabeth Township Commissioners rescind health, life insurance policy coverage
- Women’s health the focus of 2nd annual Head to Toe
- Pleasant Hills man charged with possession of child porn
- Stamp Out Hunger’s haul to assist Western Pennsylvania food banks