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Guilty plea withdrawn

| Friday, Nov. 21, 2008

A Fayette County man Thursday withdrew his guilty plea to arson after the judge denied the sentence he sought.

Robert Lance Bunting, 36, of Dunbar, was charged in the Sept. 4, 2004, fire that destroyed an apartment owned by Bret Shallenberger of North Union and his attached business, New Generation Pools. Also destroyed was a second business located in the same building, Alpha Sports, owned by a Pittsburgh man, Charles L. Wallace II.

During an April trial in which Shallenberger was acquitted, Bunting testified Shallenberger offered him $50,000 in insurance proceeds to use diesel fuel to start the fire because the pool business was failing.

Bunting testified he was drinking the night of the fire and had no memory of setting it. He testified he assumed he did it because police found diesel-soaked clothing in his apartment the night of the blaze.

He submitted a guilty plea to arson in July, according to court records.

During Shallenberger's trial, Bunting testified the district attorney's office had made a plea offer that called for a maximum three years in prison. He denied any expectation of leniency in exchange for his testimony, but acknowledged under cross-examination that "there has been talk of immunity, but I've never received it."

District Attorney Nancy Vernon yesterday denied Bunting received any deal to testify.

Vernon said her office did offer a deal of a minimum of one year in prison on an earlier conviction of driving under the influence, and agreed to leave it up to the judge to determine his sentence on the arson plea.

She said Bunting had sought to serve minimum one year-sentences on each charge concurrently.

Leskinen said he could not honor such a brief incarceration.

Bunting was returned to the Fayette County Prison. He will either plead again or face trial.

North Union

Man injured

in ATV accident

Paul Kurosky, 45, of Uniontown was flown by Stat MedEvac to Ruby Memorial Hospital with head trauma after an ATV accident at 7:17 p.m. Wednesday in front of 263 Center Ave.

Police said Kurosky lost control of the ATV. The ATV overturned and Kurosky was pinned under the vehicle.

West Leisenring Volunteer Fire Department and Uniontown Firemen's Ambulance responded to the scene. No further information available.


Meetings will

begin with prayer

Fayette County commissioners Thursday agreed to once again begin their monthly meetings with an opening prayer.

Several months ago, the Rev. Ewing Marietta, pastor of Liberty Baptist Church in Uniontown, said he would be willing to coordinate the speakers and provide guidelines, including length of prayer and tailoring of words to the members and their governance of the county.

He said the opportunity to pray at the meetings would be open to any clergy member.

Previously, a rotating roster of clergy offered prayer to open the meetings, Commissioner Vincent Vicites said at the board's September meeting.

The practice changed over time with the composition of the board.

Yesterday, Commissioner Vincent Zapotosky said his only concern was that advance copies of prayers be provided to the board the Monday before the commissioners' meetings. He said Marietta agreed to that.

Commissioner Angela Zimmerlink was against the measure, repeating her statement from the September meeting.

"I believe we should continue with silent prayer," she said.

North Union

Charges filed

against constable

Charges have been filed against a constable accused of shooting at two people in a moving car while attempting to serve an arrest warrant and hitting a home in North Union Monday.

Albert Stephen Troyan, 55, of Smithfield was charged with six counts of recklessly endangering another person and two counts each of discharge of a firearm into an occupied structure, simple assault and criminal mischief. State police at Uniontown filed the complaints with Belle Vernon District Judge Jesse Cramer.

Police said Troyan was attempting to serve Milani Myers, 37, of 9 Hicks St., Fairchance, at a home near the intersection of Kennedy and Coolsprings streets.

Myers and Richard Myers, 40, of Fairchance, were leaving the residence. The constable pulled his vehicle partially in front of Myers' vehicle. He then approached the vehicle advising the driver he had a warrant.

The vehicle continued forward and Troyan allegedly shot at the driver's side front tire as he stepped out of the way. Police said he fired four more times, with one round striking a trailer at 35 Atlantic Ave. None of the four occupants inside the trailer were injured.

Troyan was arraigned before Cramer with bond set at $2,500. A preliminary hearing is scheduled Nov. 26.


DUI checkpoint

will be held

State police at Uniontown will set up a DUI checkpoint at a location within Fayette County today through Nov. 27.


Hunters encouraged

to share the harvest

With the first day of rifle season for white-tailed deer in Pennsylvania quickly approaching, hunters are being encouraged to share a portion of their catch with those in need.

Every year, Pennsylvania deer hunters donate tens of thousands of pounds of venison, or deer meat, to local food banks and soup kitchens through the Hunters Sharing the Harvest (HSH) program.

Established in 1991, HSH is sponsored by Pennsylvanians for the Responsible Use of Animals and operates with the cooperation of the Pennsylvania Game Commission and state Department of Agriculture, along with several state sportsmen's organizations.

The HSH program calls upon hunters to donate anything from a few pounds of venison to a whole deer to help needy Pennsylvanians.

On average, the meat from one deer can provide 200 meals for hungry Pennsylvanians. Venison is a good source of protein, low in fat and eagerly sought after by food banks for its nutritional value.

With more than 1 million deer currently living in Pennsylvania, it comes as no surprise that hunters have managed to donate more than 80,000 pounds of venison a year to needy individuals and families though food banks and soup kitchens.

One of the group's largest costs is the result of processor reimbursements, which is why HSH continually accepts monetary contributions year-round for its services. Hunters donating their harvest voluntarily pay a $15 tax-deductible fee toward each processed deer. The remainder of the processing fee is covered through HSH sponsors and generous donations of individuals across the state.

Anyone interested in contributing venison to the HSH program should call 866-474-2141.


Assault charges

held for court

Assault charges against Catherine Jane Crise, 35, of Scottdale were held for court after a preliminary hearing this week before District Judge J. Bruce King.

She is charged with aggravated assault, simple assault, using offensive weapons and criminal mischief in an alleged bat attack in Scottdale on Nov. 8.

Corruption charge

goes to court

Charges of corruption of minors was waived to court by David S. Munnerlyn, 39, of Scottdale, this week when he waived his right to a preliminary hearing before District Judge J. Bruce King.

Munnerlyn is charged with three charges of attempting to corrupt minors, public drunkenness and disorderly conduct after he allegedly asked three boys to perform sex acts in Scottdale on Nov. 7. He is free on $50,000 unsecured bail.


Man sentenced

in accident case

Relatives of a West Virginia man who died after his motorcycle was hit by an unlicensed driver were prepared to ask the judge for leniency during sentencing proceedings Wednesday.

That changed when the family of Jake Ponceroff learned the unlicensed driver, 28-year-old Ernest "Tink" Tawan Minor of Uniontown, was accused last week of speeding and driving on a suspended license.

A jury earlier this month acquitted Minor of homicide by vehicle in Ponceroff's death, but the panel returned a guilty verdict for accidents involving death or personal injury while not properly licensed.

Uniontown police said Minor hit Ponceroff after running a stop sign Aug. 25, 2007, on Pershing Court Road at Route 40. Ponceroff died of a heart attack Sept. 4, 2007, at Ruby Memorial Hospital in Morgantown, W. Va.

Prior to sentencing yesterday, Minor asked Capuzzi for house arrest so he could continue to support his family through his job at a McDonald's restaurant. His attorney, David Kaiser, suggested Minor is a "changed man," in part because his drug tests have been negative.

On Nov. 13, a week after he was acquitted of the homicide charge, Minor was stopped by Uniontown police for allegedly speeding and driving on a suspended license.

In addition to the new traffic citations, Minor was cited by Uniontown police at least four times for driving while not properly licensed before the fatal accident, according to court records.

Uniontown police Officer David Rutter yesterday said the sentence was more than the one to two years that prosecutors had offered in a plea bargain that Minor rejected.

Hidden Valley

Resort set

to open Nov. 28

With the recent snowfall and excellent snowmaking conditions, Hidden Valley Four Seasons Resort plans to open the slopes for the season on Nov. 28 and remain open through Nov. 30. Hours for the opening weekend will be 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. The resort will close the slopes Dec. 1 through Dec. 5 and re-open Dec. 6 and 7. While the newly expanded snowmaking system has been operating and building a suitable base, the resort has chosen to delay opening by a week to complete the many projects and improvements for this winter season.

For the latest information visit or call 814-443-8000.

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