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Judge tosses railroad crossing case against Charleroi school bus driver

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Thursday, Dec. 5, 2013, 12:36 a.m.
 

Charges were dismissed against a Charleroi Area School District substitute bus driver who had been accused of traveling into a railroad crossing with a train approaching.

Mark Gazi, 57, of 207 Third Ave., Roscoe, appeared before Magisterial District Judge Larry Hopkins in Charleroi on Wednesday to contest citations received for careless driving and vehicle required to stop at a railroad crossing.

Gazi was cited by RESA police for allegedly failing to stop at a railroad crossing at the intersection of Railroad and Locust streets in Stockdale at 8:25 a.m. Oct. 15.

Police said the bus was just over halfway across the tracks when a crossing arm dropped down near the back of the vehicle.

Officer Al Marcy followed the bus as it continued across the tracks, and stopped it on Locust Street.

None of the students was injured, and Gazi completed his route to the school.

Police issued the citations Oct. 22 after the case was reviewed by the Washington County District Attorney's office.

During Gazi's hearing, more than 20 Charleroi bus drivers attended to lend support.

Gazi's attorney, Dennis Paluso, argued for dismissal because the citations did not include sufficient information.

Paluso said a section of the Pennsylvania Rules of Criminal Procedure states that a citation must contain a summary of the facts sufficient enough to advise the defendant of the nature of the offense.

Paluso said Gazi's citation for careless driving contained no description of his alleged offense. His citation for vehicle required to stop at a railroad crossing stated the “above was the operator of a school bus.”

The Rules of Criminal Procedures also states that if there is a defect in the citation, the case should be dismissed if the defect is prejudicial to the rights of the defendant.

Hopkins dismissed the citations.

Paluso cited a “lot of misinformation” surrounding the incident, adding he was prepared to offer witness testimony in Gazi's defense.

He said Gazi, a former RESA and California University of Pennsylvania police officer, wants to put the matter behind him.

“He wants to move forward,” Paluso said.

Gazi, who also formerly worked for the Long Branch police department, has operated a private detective agency out of California since 2009.

Stacy Wolford is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-684-2640 or at swolford@tribweb.com.

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