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Briefs: Former bankruptcy lawyer pleads guilty to fraud

| Tuesday, Nov. 8, 2005

A former bankruptcy lawyer pleaded guilty Monday in federal court in Pittsburgh to defrauding clients out of more than $3.6 million -- including more than $115,000 from former Pittsburgh Steeler Rod Woodson.

Daniel J. Gates, 44, formerly of Zelienople, now of Ocala, Fla., pleaded guilty to mail fraud, bank fraud, bankruptcy fraud and money laundering. Two hearings in as many weeks were postponed after Gates collapsed in a Florida airport and was hospitalized while doctors performed heart procedures, including a catheterization, that prevented him from traveling for a week.

Gates will be sentenced Jan. 27 by U.S. District Judge Joy Flowers Conti. His plea agreement calls for no more than 10 years and one month in prison.

Grant will provide gear, training for firefighters

Pittsburgh Fire Chief Michael Huss said Monday the Fire Bureau will use a $670,000 federal grant to pay for rescue equipment and safety training.

Most of the money will pay for risk management, firefighter survival and national emergency management training classes for more than 600 firefighters in 2006. About $97,000 will pay for hand tools and personal escape ropes for firefighters.

The money comes the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Huss said.

Give the gift of minutes to troops serving in Iraq

In conjunction with Veterans Day, the Allegheny County Special Events Office will collect domestic and international phone cards from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday in the lobby of the County Office Building, 542 Forbes Ave., Downtown.

The 171st Airborne Division, based at the 911th Airlift Wing in Moon, will distribute the donated cards to troops in Iraq.

This is the second year the special events office has collected phone cards for veterans. Last year, cards totaling more than 15,000 minutes were contributed. For more information, call 412-350-2529.

Bill to rename bridge under consideration

Allegheny County Council members are considering a bill to rename the Ninth Street Bridge between Downtown and the North Side after scientist and Springdale Borough native Rachel Carson.

Council members Eileen Watt, R-Cheswick, and Dave Fawcett, R-Oakmont, co-sponsored the bill, which was presented last week. "Rachel Carson is our local girl," Watt said. "She grew up in the district that I represent in Springdale. She had a lot to overcome with the prejudice of people taking women seriously."

Carson, who died in 1964, was the author of "Silent Spring," published in 1962.

The bill was passed on to the public works committee and will come back to council for a vote, Watt said.

span class="subhead"> Oakland
Committee raises $400,000 for Welsh Nationality Room

A committee to create a Welsh Nationality Room at the University of Pittsburgh's Cathedral of Learning has raised about $400,000 toward its $450,000 goal.

Three gifts include $50,000 each from U.S. Steel Corp., the Richard King Mellon Foundation and the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. In addition, David M. Roderick, who is heading the committee, gave $10,000, and his gift was matched by both Texas Instruments and Proctor & Gamble.

The drive to establish a Welsh Nationality Room is spearheaded by members of the Welsh Fellowship of Pennsylvania, Ohio and West Virginia. The 26 Nationality Rooms at Pitt are museum-quality and designed by architects.

State panel to eye claims of liberal bias on campuses

A Pennsylvania House subcommittee will investigate whether a liberal bias exists at public universities during a two-day hearing this week at the University of Pittsburgh.

The Subcommittee on Academic Freedom will conduct the hearing from 1 to 4 p.m. Wednesday and 9 a.m. to noon Thursday in the ballroom of Pitt's William Pitt Union on Bigelow Boulevard, near Forbes Avenue, on the Oakland campus.

The subcommittee chairman is Rep. Tom Stevenson, R-Mt. Lebanon.

Pitt creates degree in international studies

The University of Pittsburgh has created a bachelor of philosophy degree in international and area studies.

The degree will be awarded by Pitt's Honors College and is the university's first undergraduate degree in international studies.

Interested students must meet minimum grade requirements and complete a program that includes a foreign language and study abroad.

Bethel Park man dies after crash

A Bethel Park man died after his truck was involved in a minor accident Monday afternoon along Banksville Road, a spokesman for the Allegheny County Coroner's Office said.

Michael Moore, 45, was traveling near the intersection with McMonagle Avenue in Banksville when the accident occurred shortly after 3:30 p.m. He was taken to Mercy Hospital, Uptown, where he died a short time later. No other vehicles were involved in the accident.

City emergency workers were told that the man appeared to have been stricken by a health-related problem immediately before the accident. An autopsy will be conducted to determine if Moore suffered a health problem and if that problem contributed to his death.

Power to be out during maintenance work

Residents of the Glen Burnie neighborhood in Churchill are scheduled to be without power for part of today while Duquesne Light Co. crews work on equipment.

The work is part of Duquesne Light's $500 million to $600 million infrastructure project in the Pittsburgh area. Electric service will be out from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. in Glen Burnie while crews remove a 23-kilovolt underground cable for replacement. The company also is doing maintenance in the neighborhood. Letters were sent to residents about the work. It will be rescheduled for Wednesday in case of bad weather.

Duquesne Light is replacing its older equipment in suburban areas, especially those with frequent outages, and upgrading Downtown's electric delivery system.

Two people hurt in Route 48 crash

Two people were seriously injured Monday in a two-vehicle accident along Route 48 in Monroeville, police said.

The accident occurred at 3:53 p.m. when a vehicle that was traveling north apparently crossed the center of the roadway and collided head-on with an oncoming pickup, Monroeville police said. Their identities and the nature of their injuries were not available last night.

Both drivers were trapped inside the wreckage until freed by emergency rescue personnel and taken to Mercy Hospital, Uptown. The roadway was closed for about two hours while Monroeville's accident reconstruction specialists tried to determine what caused the accident.

span class="subhead"> Plum
Council decides against lie-detector tests

Plum won't administer polygraph tests to unmask which council member or borough staff member leaked a document to a Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reporter because the borough couldn't criminally prosecute the leaker, Councilman Jeff Russo said Monday at the council's November workshop meeting.

Russo said it would cost $1,500 each to test people who had access to the report, for a total of $30,000.

On Oct. 10, all seven council members said they would take the tests in an effort to uncover who released a confidential report from police Chief Robert Payne that detailed 13 alleged departmental policy violations by police officer Ryan Schneiderlochner. At the same meeting, the council voted to fire Schneiderlochner.

Allegheny County
Voters can get rides to the polls

The Black Political Empowerment Project, or B-PEP, and the Community Intensive Supervision Program will provide free transportation today to the polls for voters in the Hill District, the North Side, East Liberty, Homewood, Garfield, Wilkinsburg and McKeesport.

The program is coordinated by B-PEP Council members Mary Young and James Tucker. People who need rides in order to vote in today's election can call 412-471-4789.

Warren County
Marina docks to be replaced

The docks at a marina in the Allegheny National Forest will be replaced by May to bring them into compliance with government health, safety and accessibility regulations, officials said.

The project at the Kinzua Marina in Warren County, which is on the 27-mile-long Allegheny Reservoir, will be paid for with federal funds.

The new dock system will have roughly 200 slips, including 125 for boats less than 25 feet long and 75 for longer boats.

Cambria County
Former strip mine land will be open to hunters

Hunters will have 6,000 more acres of stomping grounds this fall at a former strip mine tract now called the Rock Run Recreation Area.

The Cambria County Conservation and Recreation Authority bought the land last year with a $2 million grant and has plans to develop campgrounds, all-terrain vehicle trails and other recreational amenities over the next several years.

For now, hunters also will be allowed on the grounds.

Lawrence County
Pilgrims to view painting said to heal

Hundreds of Orthodox pilgrims are expected to visit a Lawrence County monastery Wednesday to view a painting that believers say has the power to heal.

The Sitka icon called "Mother of God" will be displayed at the Orthodox Monastery of the Transfiguration in Ellwood City. The 19th century painting, which depicts the Virgin Mary and the Christ Child with silver and gold halos, is credited to Russian artist Vladimir Borokovski.

The painting has been displayed at the Archangel Michael Cathedral in Sitka, Alaska, since the mid-1800s, but now is completing its first tour of North America. It will move next to a site in North Canton, Ohio.

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