Archive for category Bethlehem

Bethlehem man twice assaults girlfriend, threatens her life, court papers say

Posted by Reblog: Lehigh Valley News.

Police say the man assaulted the woman Sunday and Tuesday in his home and said he would kill her before deciding it "wasn't worth it."

Nicholas BinczakView full sizeNicholas Binczak

A Bethlehem man is accused of assaulting his girlfriend during two arguments this week, at one point holding a kitchen knife to her and threatening to stab her, according to court records.

Britney Stiver contacted Bethlehem police Tuesday about an assault by her boyfriend, court records say. She told police Nicholas William Binczak, 19, of the 700 block of East Sixth Street, assaulted her on Sunday in the third floor apartment of the East Sixth Street home, court records say.

Binczak allegedly grabbed her by the arm and threw her into the wall and onto a bed, cutting her elbow, which she said was “gushing blood.” The suspect choked her as she was trying to leave, grabbed her face and bit her cheek, according to court records.

On Tuesday, Stiver said Binczak began yelling at her, pulled her hair and yanked her over a sofa, court papers say. He allegedly grabbed her by the wrists and held a kitchen knife to her, threatening to kill her. He said he decided against it because it “wasn’t worth it.”

Police say Stiver had various injuries that matched her description of the assault.

Binczak was arraigned Tuesday night before District Judge James Narlesky on charges of aggravated assault, simple assault, harassment, reckless endangerment and terroristic threats. He was sent to Northampton County Prison in lieu of $10,000 with a 10 percent option.

Bethlehem library offering insurance enrollment assistance

Posted by Reblog: Lehigh Valley News.

The library will have assistance available from 1 to 4 p.m. March 5 and 19 and from 4 to 7 p.m. March 11 at the South Side branch at 400 Webster St.

The Bethlehem Area Public Library is offering free assistance to sign up for health insurance under the Affordable Care Act.

The library will have assistance available from 1 to 4 p.m. March 5 and 19 and from 4 to 7 p.m. March 11 at the South Side branch at 400 Webster St. March 31 is the deadline for open enrollment for the federal Affordable Care Act, also known as “Obamacare.”

Appointments must be scheduled at 610-867-7852 to receive assistance. Bilingual help is available upon request.

Enrollment assistance is available in Bethlehem on Saturday.

Bethlehem man accused of fracturing mother’s rib, tossing knives is hoping for plea deal

Posted by Reblog: Lehigh Valley News.

The 33-year-old suspect hopes to enter a negotiated guilty plea by March, according to his attorney.

Eldis Rivera-RodriguezView full sizeEldis Rivera-Rodriguez

A Bethlehem man accused of tossing knives at his mother and fracturing her rib is pursuing a plea deal, according to his attorney.

Eldis Javier Rivera-Rodriguez, 33, of the 1500 block of Irene Street, appeared today before District Judge Patricia Romig-Passaro for his preliminary hearing in the aggravated assault case. Dressed in an orange prison jumpsuit, Rivera-Rodriguez gave up his right to a preliminary hearing, sending the case to Northampton County Court, where he’ll face trial unless he pleads guilty or some other disposition occurs.

Northampton County Assistant District Attorney Lara Mammana Kash said she highly doubts the case will get to trial. Michael Corcoran, the attorney representing Rivera-Rodriguez, said he’s in talks with Kash about a possible plea deal.

“We’re engaging in further negotiations to try and dispose of this case,” Corcoran said, calling the case “emotionally-charged.”

Police say Rivera-Rodriguez was drinking Dec. 29 with his mother, Elizabeth Rodriguez-Jimenez, and friend Ezequiel Santiago at Santiago’s home in the 1300 block of Fritz Drive in Bethlehem. Rivera-Rodriguez allegedly became combative after several drinks and began shoving and slapping his mother, police say.

Court papers say Santiago stepped in and Rivera-Rodriguez pushed him to the ground. Rivera-Rodriguez’s assault of his mother allegedly continued and he fractured a rib and threw three kitchen knives in her direction, according to police.

In addition to aggravated assault, Rivera-Rodriguez faces simple assault and harassment charges.

Kash said the victim expressed some displeasure in the case moving forward, but she said prosecutors have an independent witness who can testify about the assault. Kash said the negotiated deal is still in the works as authorities review the victim’s medical records.

Kash, the head of the domestic abuse unit within the Northampton County District Attorney’s Office, said she does occasionally deal with reluctant victims.

“We obviously hear what the police have to say and what the victim has to say,” Kash said. “Then we look at the evidence and, after considering all that, we use our prosecutorial discretion.”

Rivera-Rodriguez is slated for a May 1 formal arraignment in Northampton County Court. Corcoran indicated he’d be working with the district attorney’s office to move that date to March if possible.

Rivera-Rodriguez remains in Northampton County Prison in lieu of $30,000 bail.

Bethlehem officials concerned over future of Starters Clubhouse Grille at golf course

Posted by Reblog: Lehigh Valley News.

The business owes the city $38,168 in unpaid utilities for its restaurant at the city golf course on Illick's Mill Road and recently closed two other locations.

Bethlehem officials who say the city is owed tens of thousands of dollars are seeking a meeting with the owner of the last Starters restaurant over the restaurant’s viability.

The business owes the city $38,168 in unpaid utilities for its Starters Clubhouse Grille at the city golf course on Illick’s Mill Road, officials said.

City officials also are concerned whether owner Dave Rank will be able to continue running the restaurant following the closing of his two other Starters locations, including Starters Pub in Lower Saucon Township on Sunday.

“We want to know his intentions on his ability to go forward,” Bethlehem Business Administrator David Brong said. “We don’t want an empty facility.”

Mayor Robert Donchez said he wants to meet with Rank to discuss the utility bills and his interest in continuing the lease for the golf course restaurant space, which runs through the end of 2018.

“I’m concerned about the Starters out at the golf course,” he said.

Starters is paid up on its monthly $1,442 rent to the city, which the city deducts directly from the business’s bank account, officials said.

Rank said he fully intends to pay the overdue utility bills. He said the bills became backlogged when Starters Pub on Route 378 started struggling.

“In an effort to keep everything going, I was using some of the money from the golf course to keep the pub going,” he said. “It’s our full intent to rectify that situation over the next three to six months.”

Starters Pub, the original Starters location, suffered a drop in business following the closure of the shopping plaza’s supermarket in 2011, Rank said. That, along with “other recent circumstances,” caused the restaurant’s closure, he said.

Rank declined to specify the circumstances.

An Allentown woman allegedly killed her newborn son after giving birth to him in the restaurant’s bathroom in August. It also was potentially hurt when Philadelphia Eagles training camp moved away from Lehigh University in 2013. 

A third Starters restaurant, Starters Riverport on Bethlehem’s South Side, closed a year ago. At the time, Rank said the restaurant’s large size and the economic recession led to its closure.

Starters opened at the city golf course in May 2008.

Who’s the Real Hero, Bar Bouncer or Cop?

Posted by Lehigh Valley Ramblings.

On August 11, 2011, Freemansburg police officer Robert Lasso was killed in the line of duty, while responding to a domestic disturbance. He suffered a shotgun blast to the face.  While a distraught Freemansburg Chief of Police subdued the shooter, a highly decorated Bethlehem police officer was the first to arrive on the scene. He tried to save Lasso’s life, repeatedly administering CPR. But he was too late. Lasso succumbed.

Maybe he blames himself for not being fast enough. I don’t know the guy. But what I do know is that almost two years later to the day, this Bethlehem police officer was despondent about the Lasso tragedy. He tried to cheer himself up with a concert and the company of other police officers. He medicated himself the best way he knew – with alcohol.

The result was an off-duty drunk driving accident with no injuries. In fact, the accident happened partially because this officer mistakenly thought he saw a pedestrian, and swerved.

That officer is Richard Hoffman, the very person being crucified before Bethlehem City Council. Council never heard the Lasso story. Nor do they know of Hoffman’s commendations.

I sat in stunned amazement on Monday night when Karen Dolan told a bar bouncer at Molly’s Grille that he was “quite heroic.”

I understand that Molly’s is an after-Council hangout, but bar bouncers are no heroes. Sorry.

The real heroes are the men and women out there who will aid a battered spouse, assist a stranded motorist, help a lost child or try to save someone’s life. The cops. The firefighters. EMTs.  The police officer who consoles a five-year old crying boy whose mother has just been shot by his own father.

When Northampton County DA John Morganelli recently proposed establishing a mental health court, he pointed out the special needs of veterans, who put everything on the line for us. We recognize their sacrifices and the stress they suffer as a result of serving in a hostile environment.

But we seem to have no sympathy for the police officer, who puts his life on the line every time he wears that uniform. He sees all the pain and misery in what can be a very cruel world, and it’s no secret that many police officers and other first responders end up suffering from the same post-traumatic stress that we now recognize as a problem in the military.

I spoke to a long-time Bethlehem police officer who is also a veteran yesterday. He told me that, overall, service as a police officer is more stressful than the military. What makes things even worse is that most departments are ill-equipped to deal with officers in distress.

What might help Bethlehem and other police departments is mandatory counseling after stressful events. If they are involved in a homicide, it’s bound to effect them. But most cops would rather die than ask for help. They would consider that a sign of weakness. That’s why it really should be mandatory.

“This is a human being,” Wade Haubert reminded Council on Monday night. Police officers themselves need to be reminded of that from time to time.

Four men charged in Northampton County meth ring

Posted by Reblog: Lehigh Valley News.

The Pennsylvania Attorney General's Office investigated the sale of the drug between September and February, according to court records.

Four men have been charged with distributing methamphetamine
in Northampton County
from September to earlier this month, according to a Pennsylvania Attorney
General’s Office investigation.

Arraigned today before District Judge Jacqueline Taschner
were Frank Paul Papasso Jr., 53, of the 3600 block of Kelchner
Street in Bethlehem Township,
; Jason Edward Smith, 37, of Tobyhanna,
Pa.; John James Anklam, 46, of the 2300
block of Fourth Street in Wilson
; and Eric Scott Youngkin, 43, of the 2800 block John
Street in Palmer

Court records say the men sold methamphetamine to confidential
informants and at least Papasso and Smith came clean to investigators about
their criminal activity.

The Pennsylvania Attorney General’s Office was leading the investigation,
which court records say began in Sept. 24 with the purchase of 3.5 grams of
meth from Youngkin and Anklam. Investigators say during some of the subsequent
purchases — in both the Easton and Bethlehem
areas — authorities were able to observe the defendants meeting with Papasso to
obtain the drugs.

On Dec. 13, authorities served a search warrant at Papasso’s Bethlehem
Township home, court papers say.
They allegedly found a quarter-pound of marijuana and 4 grams of methamphetamine
as well as the materials used to distribute drugs. Papasso waived his Miranda
rights and spoke with police, court records say, admitting that he’d been
involved in sales of crystal methamphetamine in the county.

Court papers say authorities continued to monitor the
purchase of drugs in late December and early February. Smith was contacted Feb.
4, court records say, and he, too, waived his Miranda rights, opting to speak
with police about the activity.

Smith allegedly told authorities he’d been selling meth and
marijuana and led them to where he was keeping the drugs — a unit at the
Nazareth Self Storage facility, 173 Nazareth Pike in Lower Nazareth Township.
Inside the unit, investigators say they found 820 grams of marijuana and items
used for distribution.

Court records say all four men have been charged with three
counts of possession with the intent to deliver a controlled substance, two
counts of conspiracy and one count each of operation of a corrupt organization
and criminal use of a communication facility.

Bail was set at $500,000 for Smith, $100,000 for Anklam,
$50,000 for Youngkin and $100,000 unsecured for Papasso.