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Delmont assault over $1 wager earns prison

| Saturday, Oct. 12, 2013, 12:01 a.m.

A fight over a $1 billiards bet at a Delmont bar last year has resulted in an 8-year prison sentence for the man convicted in the assault.

Joseph Vangoethem, 32, formerly of Philadelphia, told a Westmoreland County judge on Friday he never intended to hurt his victim but that his actions that day stemmed from years of living on the streets and fearing for his life during previous prison stints.

“I'm 32 years old, and I've lived every day in fear. I should have walked away, but I'm not wired that way,” Vangoethem said.

Judge John E. Blahovec sentenced Vangoethem to serve 4 to 8 years in prison for the October 2012 aggravated assault of 53-year-old Joseph Weinstein at Carney's Corner.

Weinstein claimed he and Vangoethem were playing pool when a dispute arose over whether they were wagering on the game.

At trial last summer, Weinstein said there was no bet and he pocketed a $1 dollar bill he placed on the billiard table rail after Vangoethem sank a shot.

Police said Vangoethem hit Weinstein with a pool stick, struck him with a chair and kicked him three times in the head. Blahovec, having seen a security video of the assault, convicted Vangoethem following a nonjury trial.

Vangoethem was convicted of an escape charge, too, for walking away from Delmont police as they investigated the case. Vangoethem was handcuffed and placed in a police cruiser .

Blahovec on Friday imposed a sentence that mirrored the terms of a plea bargain rejected by Vangoethem before the trial.

“He was a defenseless victim, and you could've killed him,” Blahovec said. “I believe the original recommendation makes sense in this case.”

Rich Cholodofsky is a staff writer for Trib Total Media.

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