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West Nile claims 3rd victim, officials say

| Friday, Oct. 11, 2002

Health officials reported Thursday that a third person in Allegheny County has died from West Nile virus.

Officials from the Allegheny County Health Department did not identify the 88-year-old woman, who died Tuesday at an undisclosed hospital.

Health department spokesman Guillermo Cole said the woman started getting sick Sept. 14. Her death from the mosquito-borne virus still needs to be confirmed by the state Department of Health.

The case brings to 14 the total number of West Nile cases in the county this year. That includes a previously unreported case of a 53-year-old woman who contracted the disease in early September. That case was confirmed yesterday by state health officials.

Of the 11 people who became infected with the virus and did not die, 10 have fully recovered, Cole said. Only one, a 47-year-old man, remains hospitalized.

Cole said the risk of contracting the disease appears to be diminishing because the weather is getting colder.

"No one has gotten sick in recent weeks," he said.

The virus mostly leads to mild flu-like symptoms such as fever and body aches. Only people whose immune systems are weak, such as the elderly, can develop a deadly brain infection called encephalitis.

  • The Allegheny County Health Department is offering grants up to $2,000 to local groups for implementing injury prevention programs in their communities.

    As many as 10 mini-grants are available to schools, agencies, groups and other community organizations, except municipal governments and hospital systems.

    Those who received a mini-grant in 2001 are ineligible for a grant this year.

    The grants are for projects designed to prevent unintentional or intentional injury. Examples include programs for firearm safety, smoke alarms, safety helmets, fall prevention, parenting skills, home safety and conflict resolution.

    For details, call the health department at (412) 247-7800 or access its Web site at www.county.allegheny.pa.us/achd .

    Applications must be postmarked by Nov. 30, and projects must be completed by June 30.

  • A Pakistani man living in Glenshaw has been sentenced in federal court to 10 months in jail and three years of supervised release on charges he misled federal officials by using fraudulent documents while applying for a Social Security card.

    The U.S. Attorney's office reported that in June, Mian Imran Ahmed, 34, falsely claimed he was permitted to work in the United States and provided bogus documentation to support his claim. He also possessed several counterfeit immigration documents, including a visa, that indicated he was authorized to seek employment.

    Ahmed used the fraudulently obtained Social Security card to apply for a job at Kaufmann's department store, authorities said.

    Bloomfield

    The reward for information leading to the arrest of the unknown gunman who fatally shot a newspaper deliveryman in Bloomfield last month has grown to $17,000, Pittsburgh police said Thursday.

    The family of Leonard Feigel, 63, of Bloomfield, has added $10,000 in reward money. Feigel was delivering papers with his wife about 5 a.m. Sept. 27 on the 400 block of South Evaline Street when he was shot in the leg.

    Police said the assailant approached the Feigels' car and pulled the victim from the driver's seat and shot him. Feigel died several hours later. Detectives said they still have no motive for the shooting.

    The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette has offered a $5,000 reward for information leading to the gunman's capture. Pittsburgh CrimeStoppers is offering a $2,000 reward.

    Anyone with information on the shooting or the gunman's identity is asked to call CrimeStoppers at (412) 255-TIPS. Callers may remain anonymous.

    Region

    A student at Indiana University of Pennsylvania and a key player in a multimillion-dollar Ecstasy network that operated in western Pennsylvania was sentenced in federal court Thursday to more than 12 years in prison.

    Ryan Shank, 25, of Alexandria, Va., operated an Ecstasy and cocaine ring based at the university that was busted by federal authorities in November 2000. The ring imported as much as $1.4 million worth of Ecstasy from Europe.

    Senior U.S. District Judge Alan N. Bloch sentenced Shank to 151 months in jail after Shank waived his grand jury rights and pleaded guilty to possessing with intent to distribute 47,000 Ecstasy pills and 6 pounds of cocaine.

    Shank was part of a wide-ranging drug network with ties to Russian and Israeli crime figures. The network imported Ecstasy from the Netherlands and distributed the pills and cocaine in Pittsburgh, Indiana University in Indiana County, Penn State University and universities in Ohio, Wisconsin and Maryland.

    Shank has cooperated since his arrest with the ongoing investigation. Several others have been convicted or are awaiting trial.

    Region

    Motorists should expect single-lane closures during bridge inspections scheduled next week for two Pittsburgh-area bridges.

    Bridge inspections will start from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. for the 40th Street Bridge and Interstate 79 over the Ohio River in Neville Township.

    The 40th Street Bridge will be inspected Monday and Tuesday, while the section of I-79 will be inspected from Monday until Oct. 18.

    South Side

    A South Side man whose body was found near Cupples Stadium died of natural causes, the Allegheny County Coroner's office said Thursday.

    A passerby by found the body of William Stambaugh, 44, in a wooded area between the Pittsburgh Public Schools stadium and the 800 block of the P.J. McArdle Roadway a little after noon Wednesday.

    An autopsy yesterday showed that Stambaugh died from heart disease. Police said he likely died a few hours before he was found.

    Bedford County

    A man charged with setting fire to a 135-year-old historic covered bridge also will stand trial for allegedly stealing the gasoline can used to start the fire.

    Edwin Aloysius Sanders V, 18, of Lancaster, was ordered held Wednesday by Schellsburg District Justice Erika McVicker on charges of burglary, conspiracy to commit burglary and theft.

    Sanders remained in the Bedford County Jail on $100,000 bail.

    He and Luke Joshua Bartholow, 19, of Schellsburg, were charged with arson and related crimes in the Aug. 14 fire at Ryot Covered Bridge, located in West St. Clair Township.

    Oakland

    Traffic along Forbes Avenue in Oakland will be restricted to one lane from McKee Place to the bridge over South Neville Street as part of a resurfacing project.

    Work on Forbes Avenue is scheduled to start at 8 p.m. today and continue until 8 p.m. Sunday. Parking also will be restricted on Forbes Avenue between McKee Place and South Neville Street.

    Trumbull Corp. of Pittsburgh is the primary contractor for the $1.7 million milling and resurfacing project.

    Cambria County

    A divided City Council voted to abolish a decade-old residency requirement Wednesday, allowing Johnstown city employees to live where they choose.

    In a 5-4 vote, the council eliminated the ordinance, which was criticized by some when former police Chief William Clark said he couldn't find a suitable home within city limits.

    Though some police officers and firefighters have been granted waivers to live outside the city, the council only granted Clark temporary exemptions because he was the head of the police department.

    Clark had said he tried searching for nearly a year for a home with enough space to accommodate hunting dogs.

    The move will have an immediate effect on 46 public works employees, nine department heads and clerks. They were the only workers among the nearly 200 city employees still mandated to live in Johnstown.

    Moon Township

    A Moon Township man with a half-dozen known aliases has been indicted by a federal grand jury on federal drug charges.

    Warren Evans Jr., 32, faces from five to 40 years in prison, a $2 million fine or both.

    Federal prosecutors say Evans in July possessed with the intent to distribute 500 grams or more of cocaine and that he attempted to possess and distribute a similar amount in February.

    An investigation by the federal Drug Enforcement Administration and Moon Township police led to Evans' indictment.

    Cheswick

    A Cheswick woman has been sentenced in federal court to five months of home detention and three years' probation for stealing firearms from a federally licensed dealer.

    Amy Schlessman, 20, stole six firearms from a dealer in February, according to Assistant U.S. Attorney Brendan Conway. An investigation by the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms led to Schlessman's prosecution.

    Homewood

    Two people were shot within minutes of each other Thursday night in Homewood in what police believe are unrelated incidents.

    A man and a woman were taken to UPMC Presbyterian after the man was shot in the stomach along the 7200 block of Bennett Street. The man's identity was not available, but he was listed in critical condition, according to the Pittsburgh 911 emergency response center. The man was shot about 8:50 p.m. near the YMCA in Homewood.

    Minutes later, a call came into 911 for a woman shot in the face along Dersam Avenue, about five blocks from the site of the first shooting. The woman's identity also was not available, but she was in serious condition, a city 911 dispatcher said.

    Oakmont

    Patsy Tallarico, president of the Pennsylvania State Education Association and a Lower Burrell resident, will visit the picket line today at Riverview High School, Third Street and Hulton Road.

    Tallarico is making the appearance to show support for the teachers union's strike in the Riverview School District.

    The teachers strike is in its eighth day. The next negotiating session is scheduled for Monday.

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