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Briefs: 4 hurt in crash involving police car

| Monday, Oct. 14, 2002

A three-car crash in Oakland injured four people, including a Pittsburgh police officer rushing to a stolen-car call, investigators said.

Police declined to identify the officer or any other drivers or passengers involved in the 2:15 p.m. collision Sunday at the corner of Dawson Street and the Boulevard of the Allies. Three of the four injured people, including a child strapped into a safety seat, were released from area hospitals following treatment, police said.

The officer was travelling outbound on the Boulevard of the Allies with the lights and sirens activated on his cruiser when another vehicle struck his car in the intersection, police said. The police car spun around and struck another car stopped at the intersection, police said.

The officer received minor head and facial injuries and was taken to Allegheny General Hospital, North Side, police said. He received between 25 and 30 stitches. The car's air bag deployed and the officer's bullet-proof vest protected his chest from more serious injuries, an investigator said.

The city's traffic investigation unit is probing the crash because a police cruiser was involved.

State university group wnts a name change

The organization running Pennsylvania's 14 state-owned universities wants to change its name, because surveys show the majority of Pennsylvanians don't know what it means.

Officials with the State System of Higher Education said they will ask the Legislature to change the name to the State University System of Pennsylvania before the current legislative session ends Nov. 30.

"Since the creation of the State System of Higher Education, our name has been described as ambiguous," said vice chancellor Ed Nolan. "Legislators, marketing experts, faculty, students and alumni have told us at different times our name does not fully identify who we are, what we are or where we are."

The state system comprises Bloomsburg, California, Cheyney, Clarion, East Stroudsburg, Edinboro, Indiana, Kutztown, Lock Haven, Mansfield, Millersville, Shippensburg, Slippery Rock and West Chester universities. There are four state-related universities not in the system — Penn State, Pitt, Temple and Lincoln.

Fire that destroyed tavern ruled arson

A fire that destroyed an Indiana County bar on Saturday morning has been ruled an arson.

The blaze at the Gin Mill Tavern in West Wheatfield Township was intentionally set, Jack Andolina, state police fire marshal, said Sunday.

Police said not much information has been gathered, and details of the fire and evidence are not yet being released.

On May 1, Robinson resident Jon L. McClure, 35, returned to the Gin Mill, where he had been drinking earlier, toting a 12-gauge shotgun. He opened fire on several patrons, killing Tracy Davis, 23, of New Florence; Dan Fleming, 26, of Ligonier Township; and Bill Wagner, 29, of Bolivar. Eric Bair, 27, of Bolivar, was wounded.

McClure then walked to his Chestnut Street home and refused to surrender to police. He was found dead the next night with a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head from a .45-caliber handgun.

Council asked to stump for tax change

The mayor of Johnstown wants council members to get out the vote on a tax referendum that he says would give the city greater flexibility it needs to survive.

Mayor Don Zucco is challenging council members to promote amending the city charter to lift a cap on the amount of money used for the general fund. City officials say that the cap needs to be removed, not for taxing purposes, but to give the city more spending power.

The budget was balanced this year's through creative accounting, something city Manager Karl Kilduff and Finance Director Joe Bunk say will be hard to do next year. Unless the referendum is passed, the city says it will lose out on $330,000 earmarked for recovery, be forced to endure service cuts and have no choice but to lay off about 10 employees.

In return, council has promised not to raise taxes, which have remained at the same level since 1994.

Veteran's wife charged in thefts from VFW

A woman was charged with stealing more than $25,000 from a veterans club where her husband was an officer.

Elizabeth Baldinger, 53, of Osterburg, stole money from the Fort Bedford Veterans of Foreign Wars club for four years by forging her husband's name on checks and stealing from a cash register, state police said.

Officers at the club discovered the thefts after noticing the club was losing money, state police trooper Mark Ritchey said.

"They pretty much figured it out for themselves," Ritchey said.

Baldinger's husband, Dennis Baldinger, who was the secretary of the club, resigned after the thefts were discovered. He has not been implicated in the case, Ritchey said.

Elizabeth Baldinger has been charged with eight counts of forgery and one count of theft. She was free on $15,000 bond.

Hearing set for man accused in assaults

A Fayette County man accused of repeatedly assaulting his girlfriend over a 12-day period faces a preliminary hearing on Wednesday.

Dennis James Chipps, 49, of Springhill Township, was arraigned last week before District Justice Mark Blair of Uniontown on charges of aggravated assault, simple assault, harassment and stalking.

State police at Uniontown said that from Sept. 22 to Oct. 3, Chipps used his feet, hands and various objects, including drinking glasses, to strike Christina Marie Krisha, 37, at their home.

Chipps is free on $50,000 unsecured bail.

Man gets 15 months for heroin charge

A Baldwin Township man was sentenced in federal court for attempting to sell 275 packets of heroin.

Dale Buck, 30, of Riehl Drive, also known as Dale Bittner, was sentenced to 15 months in prison by Senior U.S. District Judge Maurice Cohill.

Buck was convicted after members of the Pittsburgh police narcotics unit on June 16 found packets of heroin in the car Buck was driving, court papers said. Buck told police he bought the heroin in Philadelphia and was planning to sell it in Pittsburgh.

Man gets 11 years for cocaine charge

A Glen Hazel man was sentenced in federal court to 11 years and one month in jail for selling cocaine.

Lloyd Oliver, 31, of Elizabeth Street, was sentenced on Sept. 27 before Chief U.S. District Judge Donetta Ambrose. Oliver was arrested after the Allegheny County District Attorney's narcotics enforcement team found 880 grams of cocaine, $8,800 and drug paraphernalia in Oliver's home on Sept. 21, 2001, court papers said.

Man gets probation for marijuana charge

A Wilkinsburg man was sentenced in federal court after accepting a home delivery of more than 26 pounds of marijuana.

John Inverson, 37, of Savannah Avenue, was sentenced on Sept. 30 by U.S. District Judge Gary Lancaster to three years' probation, including six months of house arrest and a $5,000 fine. He was arrested in September 1999 after he signed for two packages from California that contained more than 26 pounds of marijuana, court papers said.

Man pleads guilty to Ecstasy charge

A Brighton Heights man pleaded guilty in federal court to scheming to sell more than 200,000 tablets of Ecstasy in western Pennsylvania and Ohio.

Daniel Austin, 22, of Complete Street, entered the plea Sept. 30 to one count before Senior U.S. District Judge Maurice Cohill. Austin was charged as being part of a scheme during 1997 to 1998 to sell Ecstasy tablets throughout the region, court papers said.

Austin will be sentenced on Jan. 22.

Couple gets prison on gun, drug charges

A Point Breeze woman and a Maryland man have been sentenced in federal court for attempting to buy guns with false information and for attempting to sell crack cocaine.

Larry Moore, 26, of Laurel, Md., was sentenced to 12 years in prison and five years of probation; and India Richie, 26, of Jonathan Court, was sentenced to 2 1 / 2 years in prison and five years of probation. The couple was sentenced Oct. 3 by Senior U.S. District Judge Gustave Diamond.

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