Pleas likely in fatal Indiana County crash
The owner of an Armstrong County bar and a bartender who allegedly served alcohol to three underage men hours before their pickup plunged into an Indiana County pond on May 5, killing the trio, waived their right to preliminary hearings on Tuesday.
Larry P. Pompelia, 58, the owner of The Final Score Saloon in Cowanshannock Township, and Karly Ann Good, 23, a bartender there, waived formal hearings on two misdemeanor charges each filed by state police for selling and furnishing alcohol to minors.
Pompelia waived a scheduled hearing on separate charges of unsworn falsification to authorities and tampering with evidence for allegedly erasing surveillance tapes showing the three underage men drinking alcohol in his bar about 11:30 p.m. May 4.
Cody A. Brink-Douglas, 19, and Zane M. McMillen, 19, both of North Buffalo, and Sean J. Titus, 20, of Butler, formerly of Kittanning, died when Titus, the driver, apparently became disoriented as his 1997 Mazda climbed a steep hill and overturned in a muddy overflow pond just after midnight in neighboring Indiana County, state police said. Brink-Douglas and McMillen graduated from Kittanning Senior High School in June 2012.
Police said the three friends were heading to a party near the pond in South Mahoning.
As Pompelia and Good separately left District Judge Samuel Goldstrohm's office in Rural Valley without commenting, their respective attorneys indicated that plea bargain deals are in the works before they head to trial in Armstrong County Common Pleas Court.
“We felt it in the best interest of our client to waive this proceeding today because we've been presented an offer by the district attorney's office that we want to review,” said Pompelia's co-counsel, Robert Bell, a former Indiana County district attorney.
Bell indicated the offer includes Pompelia's possible admission into the Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition program for nonviolent, first-time criminal offenders.
Under the program, participants who successfully complete a probationary period can petition to have their records expunged. The program does not require defendants to make an admission of guilt.
Bell is representing Pompelia along with attorney James S. Bock, also of Indiana.
Good's attorney, R.E. Valasek of Lower Burrell, said his client wants to quickly resolve the matter, but he declined to disclose whether she, too, was offered admission into the ARD program, which could include completion of alcohol and/or drug awareness classes.
“Nothing has been formalized. There's always that potential,” Valasek said.
State police Trooper Jason Morgan determined that The Final Score Saloon, along Route 85 just outside Rural Valley, served Titus, McMillen and Brink-Douglas.
Indiana County Chief Deputy Coroner Jerry Overman pronounced the three dead shortly before 2 a.m. when their bodies were retrieved from the pond by Plumville firefighters.
Some others at the party attempted to free the men from the truck, but they could not because the doors were jammed.
In a separate case unrelated to serving alcohol to the three underage accident victims, another employee of the tavern, Kristen L. Fisher, 19, waived her right to a preliminary hearing on Tuesday in connection with illegally selling and furnishing alcohol to minors earlier on May 5. Authorities uncovered evidence pertaining to Fisher's case while investigating Pompelia and Good, police said.
Pompelia has operated the bar with his wife, Brenda, since 2006.
Paul Peirce is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-850-2860 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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