ShareThis Page

Judge tosses railroad crossing case against Charleroi school bus driver

| 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.

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.