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Charleroi Area student ducks school weapons charge

| Thursday, Jan. 3, 2013, 12:34 a.m.

Charges were refiled Wednesday against a Charleroi Area High School senior once accused of bringing a homemade pipe bomb onto school property and building more devices at his home.

Prosecutors withdrew charges related to the school property allegations filed by Charleroi Area School District police against Ryan Jacob Pfrogner, 18, of 136 River Ave., Speers.

There is no evidence Pfrogner possessed the device on school property – other than his admission to school administrators that he had a pipe bomb in his vehicle.

Pfrogner allegedly told Charleroi Regional Police Officer Michael Kresich, who serves as Charleroi Area school police chief, that he had live pipe bombs in his residence.

According to the criminal complaint, two live pipe bombs made of PVC pipe, gun powder and fuses allegedly were found in Pfrogner's bedroom and removed by the Allegheny County Police Department Bomb Squad. Additional bomb-making materials were found, officials said.

Pfrogner now is charged with causing or risking a catastrophe, possessing a prohibited offensive weapon, and recklessly endangering another person.

“The fact is that we needed more than just his admission,” Washington County District Attorney Gene Vittone said. “It's a technical reason called corpus delecti. We never had proof that anyone saw the device at the school other than what he admitted.”

According to the complaint Kresich filed Wednesday, Pfrogner admitted to high school Principal Patricia Mason and Superintendent Dr. Brad Ferko that he had a live pipe bomb in his car, a black 2000 Ford Mustang, on Nov. 16 in the student parking area during school hours.

Pfrogner said the bomb was detonated after school hours somewhere in Speers.

“We have evidence that supports the charges that were filed,” Vittone said.

When the original charges were filed, Ferko said Pfrogner, “was cooperative, but he did a stupid, stupid thing. If you bring a weapon onto school grounds, that's it.”

Act 26 of 1995 and Act 30 of 1997 of the state Safe Schools Act prohibits possession of weapons and requires expulsion for “any student who is determined to have brought onto or is in possession of a weapon on any school property, any school-sponsored activity or any public conveyance providing transportation to a school or school-sponsored activity.”

Mike Lucas, Charleroi Area School District solicitor, said the district is not permitted to comment on Pfrogner's status and whether he has been expelled.

Ferko could not be reached for comment.

Jeremy Sellew is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at jsellew@tribweb.com or 724-684-2667.

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