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Briefs: Man sentenced for bank fraud conspiracy

| Monday, March 28, 2005

A McCandless man has been sentenced in federal court to time served -- approximately seven months in jail -- and placed on three years' supervised release for his conviction on a charge of conspiracy to commit bank fraud.

Brad Mrazek, 25, of Edwood Road, also was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Thomas Hardiman to four months' home detention. Mrazek was ordered to participate in intensive drug treatment programs.

Mrazek and several other conspirators stole someone's checkbook, forged his signature and passed 41 of the checks at several stores and banks in the region, prosecutors said. The value of the loss was estimated at $13,000, prosecutors said.

City
Downtown
Lecture on post-election Iraq slated for April 12

A lecture on "Iraq After the Elections: Where Do We Go From Here?" will be presented by a representative of the U.S. Institute for Peace from noon to 1 p.m. April 12 in the Philadelphia Room at the Ramada Plaza Suites, 1 Bigelow Square, Downtown.

Paul D. Hughes, Iraq program officer of the Directorate of Peace and Stability Operations at the institute, will speak about the role Islam will play in a new constitution. Hughes is a retired U.S. Army colonel.

The event is being sponsored by the World Affairs Council of Pittsburgh. There is no charge for council members. Admission for nonmembers is $5. To register, call (412) 281-7970 or e-mail welcome@worldaffairspittsburgh.org.

Highland Park
Woman pleads guilty to drug violations

A Highland Park woman waived prosecution by indictment and pleaded guilty in federal court to violating federal drug laws.

Linda Titterington, 57, of Wellesley Avenue, acknowledged being involved in a conspiracy to distribute heroin to the region between September 2002 and February 2004, prosecutors said.

She was found Feb. 25, 2004, carrying a quantity of illegally obtained painkillers that prosecutors said she planned to sell. Sentencing is scheduled June 3 before Chief U.S. District Judge Donetta W. Ambrose.

East Liberty
Man admits guilt on firearms, drug charges

An East Liberty man has pleaded guilty in federal court to federal firearms and drug violations.

Brandon Samuel Thompson, 27, of Enright Court, acknowledged being a convicted felon found in possession of a semiautomatic handgun, prosecutors said. Convicted felons are not permitted to possess firearms.

Thompson also acknowledged carrying crack cocaine when he was spotted by police March 27, 2004, at a convenience store in Squirrel Hill, prosecutors said. Thompson was wanted on a state warrant for gun-related charges at the time of his arrest, prosecutors said.

Hill District
Fund-raising concert set for church rebuilding

Pittsburgh Gospel Lights will hold its final fund-raising concert April 2 to benefit the rebuilding effort of the Ebenezer Baptist Church in the Hill District.

The concert will include such musical groups as Trumpets of Joy, Voices of Mt. Carmel on the North Side and Sensational Sons of Harmony from Braddock, as well as local artists Brother Abe Humphreys and Ora Mae Austin.

The concert will begin at 3 p.m. at Bethel AME Church, 2720 Webster Ave., Hill District. For more information contact Gospel Lights' manager Frank Smith at (412) 231-5566.

Mon Valley
Braddock
Man admits interfering with federal officer

A Braddock motorist has pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court in Pittsburgh to resisting, impeding or interfering with a federal officer.

Leonard Edwards, 27, of Talbot Avenue, acknowledged chasing a vehicle being driven through the streets of Braddock on March 3, 2004, by an agent of the federal Drug Enforcement Administration, prosecutors said.

When other officers eventually stopped Edwards' vehicle, they found that he had a stolen gun on the front seat, prosecutors said. Sentencing is scheduled for June 24 before U.S. District Judge Gary L. Lancaster.

Allegheny County
Calif. woman sentenced for role in conspiracy

An Oakland, Calif., woman has been sentenced in U.S. District Court in Pittsburgh to nearly four years in prison for her role in a national conspiracy to obtain nearly $1 million in illegal cash advances from banks.

Veronica Henderson, 30, was sentenced to 46 months in prison followed by five years' supervised release by Senior U.S. District Judge Gustave Diamond. She also was ordered to pay $325,000 in restitution.

Prosecutors said Henderson was one of 19 people involved in approaching banks with stolen or fraudulently obtained credit cards to obtain cash advances. Henderson, Marlowe West, 29, also of Oakland, and another woman were accused of bringing the scheme to the Pittsburgh region. West received a similar sentence.

SOUTH
Whitehall
Missing boy found; 'decided to go for a walk,' police say

An 11-year-old Whitehall boy reported missing Saturday morning was found safe that night, Whitehall police said.

Auzzell Davis was found near Century III Mall in West Mifflin, after leaving his mother's Prospect Park home about 11 a.m.

"He decided to go for a walk," Whitehall police reported.

Region
Western Pennsylvania
Event will recognize World War II veterans

The 16th annual Veterans Leadership Program's Partners in Leadership Awards Dinner will begin with cocktails at 5:30 p.m. May 12 at the Westin Convention Center Hotel, Downtown.

In addition to the awards ceremony, the 60th anniversary of the end of World War II will be celebrated. Every Western Pennsylvania veteran of the World War II era will be recognized as 2005 Veteran of the Year. Ronald Zola, who recently retired as the organization's executive director, will receive the President's Award. Abie Abraham, 93, a volunteer at the Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Butler County, will receive the John Heinz Community Advocate Award.

Individual tickets cost $100. For details, call Margaret Schumacher at (412) 281-8100, ext. 204.

Mercer County
Miami man pleads guilty to bank larceny charge

A Miami man has pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court in Pittsburgh to a charge of bank larceny for his role in a Mercer County burglary.

Justin Fortuna, 24, formerly of Hermitage, Mercer County, admitted his role in the July 13 burglary at the Sky Bank in Greenville.

Fortuna's former roommate, Jeremy Clark, was manager of the bank until June, prosecutors said. Clark, 32, of Hermitage, is charged with bank larceny and conspiracy.

Allegheny Valley
Tarentum
Safety advocate to receive honor

Safety Kids Inc. is recognizing Pat Ziringer as Instructor of the Year for 2005 on Sunday at the Syria Mosque in Harmar.

She was selected for her commitment to promoting the Charlie Check-First safety program at elementary schools in the Alle-Kiski Valley. The program teaches children that they should not go away with anyone before checking with their parent or caregiver and what to do if they get lost. Ziringer serves as the advocate of prevention services at the Helping Other People in Emergencies Center, a domestic violence agency in Tarentum.

For information about the fund-raising event where Ziringer will be honored, call Safety Kids at (412) 241-1234.

Tour of Hope applications available

The Bristol-Myers Squibb Tour of Hope National Team is now accepting applications for this year's tour.

Led by prostate cancer survivor and six-time Tour de France champion cyclist Lance Armstrong, the Tour of Hope will begin Sept. 29 in San Diego and conclude Oct. 8 in Washington, D.C. Pittsburgh will be a stop on the tour.

Physicians, nurses, caregivers, researchers, advocates and cancer survivors who can endure a 100-mile ride for nine days are welcome to apply by April 20. Members of the cancer community will select the final team of 20 riders by late May. To apply, visit www.tourofhope.org.

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