Archive for category Bethlehem

The Fall of Karen Dolan

Posted by Lehigh Valley Ramblings.

DA John Morganelli announcing report

Karen Dolan, an elected member of Bethlehem City Council, violated the public trust. She placedthe interests of her nonprofit, the Illick’s Mill, over and above the interests of the people she was elected to represent. She ignored a $128,000 debt she ran up with the City. She intimidated everyone who stood in her way. She would do whatever it took, including explosive rants, to advance the cause of a nonprofit in which she herself was financially interested. She is not fit to serve in public office. Moreover, she engaged in repeated violations of the state Ethics Act.

These are the conclusions of the Northampton County Investigating Grand Jury, which yesterday released a blistering, 62-page report. It is the product of 20 witnesses, including former Mayor John Callahan and an accountant who was never informed that her nonprofit was in debt. It is the product of 49 exhibits, in which Dolan herself threatens to do “everything I can” to prevent the City from forcing her nonprofit to pay for utilities,

It is a tale of arrogance.

The Grand Jury has recommended that she resign from office within the next 14 days. It has referred prima facie violations of the Ethics Act to the Ethics Commission for a determination whether criminal sanctions should be imposed, which include third degree felonies. It has recommended that Bethlehem adopt internal policies to prevent anyone in City government from engaging in conflicts of interest. It wants the Illick’s Mill to pay what it owes. And it wants non-profits that deal with the City to provide periodic proof that they still are nonprofits, and that they are paying their bills.

So ends a tale in which Dolan provided multiple explanations to multiple people about her ethical misconduct, including accusations of politics and the use of social media to vilify those who exposed her. In the end, when she had an opportunity to speak to the Grand Jury, she clammed up and took the Fifth.

The $127,959 Debt

Karen Dolan

Morganelli’s interest in this matter, like the Industrial Steel Museum,is the result of several news accounts, as well as complaints from citizens like Steve Antalics, who had publicly called for a Grand Jury to investigate the $127,959 debt that was mysteriously written off by the City. As the layers of the onion peeled away, they exposed a woman who misused grant money that was supposed to pay for money advanced by the City for improvements at the mill. At one time, it was just $30,000, and Dolan promised to pay the money once other grants came in.

That never happened, and the debt snowballed. The City attempted to collect the debt, even threatening to suspend services. Finally, a Morning Call news account quoted Mark Sivak, a business manager, as stating that the Illicks Mill owed the City $127,000.

Dolan left a lengthy voice mail for Sivik, stating, “How dare you put the Illick’s Mill out there, that they owe the money!” He was blasted with “who does he think he is!” and the City should be paying her for all the work she’s done.

Though Mayor John Callahan stated the City was in financial trouble, he decided to write the debt off. “I didn’t have much choice,” he shrugged. He denied that Dolan made any attempt to persuade him to write it off, but the Grand Jury did not find Callahan’s testimony credible because other witnesses testified to receiving intimidating phone calls and emails from Dolan.  

Business Administrator Dennis Reichard stated that though the debt was written off, but the debt was not excused and the City never wrote to Illick’s Mill, telling the non-profit that he debt was forgiven.

The NonProfit Tax Returns

When Dolan’s nonprofit lost its tax exempt status for failure to file tax returns for three years in a row, she blamed her accountant. But he testified he never could prepare these returns because Dolan failed to provide him with the necessary information. He added that Dolan never disclosed her debt to the City, which should have been included in these tax returns. The returns as filed presented an inaccurate picture to the public and potential donors. His testimony was corroborated by an employee in his office, who stated Dolan failed to supply the necessary information.

Alcohol Use at Mill

Although a City Ordinance bans the use of alcohol beyond a 7% limit at the Mill, Dolan misled a wedding event planner into believing that the Mill was exempt. Dolan also conducted a few weddings herself, and collected miney for that above and beyonf her salary as Executive Director.

Conflicts of Interest

The Grand Jury lists specific instances in which Dolan engaged in conduct for the pecuniary benefit of Illick’s Mill that conflicted with her duties as a member of Council:

  • Instead of paying down the debt owed to the City, Dolan used grant money for other Mill expenses, contrary to assurances that she made in 2008.
  • When she received a bill for the $127,959 debt to the City in 2010, she called the City’s Public Parks Director and told him she was unwilling and unable to pay the money. 
  • In 2010, she badgered a City employee who had publicly revealed the debt owed by the Mill to the City.
  • Dolan misrepresented that funds were unavailable to the City while simultaneously demanding a salary at The Mill based on increased revenue projections. 
  • Dolan improperly influenced a financially distressed City to waive this debt.
  • Dolan regularly participated in City business that impacted on the Mill. She ignored requests for a new lease from 2010-2013. She influenced City Administrators to assume responsibility for utilities. She voted for two City budgets that included line items for heating oil at the Mill. She represented the Mill at meetings with City officials. As Chair of the parks Committee, she attempted to ease restrictions on alcohol in City parks, which would favorably impact the Mill. She threatened to close the Mill if alcohol rules were not eased. She threatened to close the mill again over a lease proposed by Mayor Bob Donchez.

She put the interests of the Illicks Mill ahead of the interests of the people of Bethlehem. For at least the past four years, she intimidated and harassed City officials to effectuate public policy that would benefit the Mill and herself.

I sent an email to Dolan, requesting a response, but have none and expect none.

NorCo Grand Jury: Dolan Must Go

Posted by Lehigh Valley Ramblings.

I’ve been saying it for months. Now a Northampton County Investigating Grand Jury has added its voice as well. Karen Dolan must go. She must resign her seat as a member of Bethlehem City Council. They are also referring their report to the state Ethics Comm’n, which has the power to impose criminal and/or civil sanctions for the multiple conflicts of interest in which she engaged. They paint an ugly picture of a woman who shouted, intimidated and manipulated her way through Bethlehem. I’ll have much more to say later, but want to link to the Grand Jury Report now.

Karen Dolan ‘not fit’ for elected office, grand jury finds in scathing report

Posted by Reblog: Lehigh Valley News.

She abused her role on Bethlehem City Council to benefit the Gertrude B. Fox Environmental Center she led in a 19th century mill subleased by the city, according to the report.

Central to a Northampton County grand jury’s recommendation that Bethlehem City Councilwoman Karen Dolan step down is the debt of $127,959 owed to the city by the Gertrude B. Fox Environmental Center, the nonprofit she led until her resignation earlier this year.

Owed since July 2010, the money was for construction and restoration of the Illick’s Mill along the Monocacy Creek in Bethlehem that, at least for few more months, is home to the center.

The grand jury’s findings went well beyond the debt, extending to Dolan reportedly representing the center in — and trying to derail — lease negotiations with the city, which subleases the mill to the center.

She also approved city budgets covering $11,000 in heating oil for the building and lobbied for Bethlehem to change its rules governing parks like Monocacy Park, where the mill is located, so not just beer but wine and liquor could flow at weddings and other events the center hosts, according to the report. As the “dominant figure at Fox” and its predecessor organizations spanning Dolan’s involvement from 2001 until last April 30, she hand-picked board members, including the city’s parks and public property director, Ralph Carp, the report found.

But it was the debt that largely helped inform the grand jury’s assessment of Dolan as unfit for public office.

Specifically, around July 2010, when city officials were scrambling to address financial problems, city budget and finance Director Mark Sivak publicly mentioned the money due the city as a receivable that could be budgeted, county District Attorney John Morganelli said Thursday in announcing the grand jury’s findings. The mention led to a voicemail from Dolan described by Sivak as “resentful” with respect to the city’s efforts to collect, according to the report. The city had twice in recent months sent correspondence demanding payment. After the voicemail, those efforts ceased.

Dolan did not immediately respond to a message left Thursday on her cellphone. She previously said she would unlikely be able to comment on the grand jury report and that she was considering resigning from council anyway, as she is looking for employment out of state.  

The 20-member grand jury reviewed 49 documents and took testimony from 20 witnesses, including Dolan, who Morganelli said declined to answer questions.

Its summary of Dolan’s reported actions is scathing:

“She continuously forged ahead at every turn to influence public policy in favor of her nonprofit organization and contrary to the interests of the city without ever seeking legal advice as to the appropriateness of her conduct as an elected official.

“The collective testimony of all the witnesses who appeared before the grand jury established an arrogance and a settled purpose to do whatever it took to assure that her nonprofit organization received public financial benefits.

“When city officials attempted to take action contrary to her desires, Ms. Dolan acted out in explosive rants.

“It is the collective  judgment of this grand jury that Ms. Dolan is not fit to continue further service in elected position in the city and that the specific conduct outlined herein establishes prima facie violations of the Pennsylvania Ethics Act.”

Those violations could lead to civil and felony criminal penalties, Morganelli said. Rather than return a presentment charging Dolan itself, the grand jury issued recommendations that will be forwarded to the State Ethics Commission for review and possibly sanctions, according to the district attorney.

Classroom to weddings

The Illick’s Mill restoration started out as a 10-year student project led by Dolan at Liberty High School. Students worked hands-on and also researched the 1856 structure’s history ahead of efforts rewarded in 2005 with its listing on the National Register of Historic Places. The Bethlehem Area School District in 2011 cut the course because of budgetary issues, and Dolan retired from teaching to focus on the mill full time.

Owned by the city’s water authority since about 1935 and leased to the city, the mill “began to host functions such as weddings and other events resulting in profits accruing and which suggested that a new lease would be needed,” according to the grand jury report. In addition to helping with heating costs, the city only began charging the Fox Center rent for the building in August: $200 a month plus utilities. That lease expires in January, when the center is set to close.

In addition to calling for Dolan’s resignation within 14 days, the report recommends Bethlehem City Council adopt rules to require all members of council disclose in writing any for- or nonprofit organizations with which they are affiliated to avoid potential conflicts of interest. The same should apply to department heads in the administration, the grand jury says.

Council President J. William Reynolds on Thursday declined to comment on the findings until he can read the full report.

The city could reject the findings, Morganelli said.

“We’ll see where it goes if anywhere,” the district attorney said.

Paying back the debt

Among other recommendations in the report are that any city official engaged in for- or nonprofit activities should refrain from participating in matters that could affect those organizations.

The report also urges the city to develop policies on public money spent on nonprofits, including requiring yearly verification of federal nonprofit status, verification that nonprofits can repay any public debts prior to disbursement and ending payments or other assistance to the nonprofit after 90 days of delinquency on debt.

Mayor Bob Donchez said he would not comment on the findings concerning Dolan but that he would review the report with city Solicitor William Leeson.

“If he agrees that they’re some sound recommendations we will certainly implement them,” said Donchez, who also had not seen the report.

As for the $127,959, the grand jury recommends repayment in “regular minimal payments until the debt is repaid.”

Andrew Bollinger, volunteer president of the center’s board, said Thursday he disagrees. He noted that after January, the center will close, leaving the restored mill abandoned and revenue streams cut off.

“They can take their money back out of the building if they want,” he said when reached for comment Thursday about the grand jury report, which he had not seen. “They can start stripping wood or whatever they want to do. I don’t care.”

GRAND JURY WITNESSES

Ralph E. Carp. Jr., Bethlehem director of parks and public property

Andrew Bollinger, Gertrude B. Fox Environmental Center Board of Directors president

John Callahan, Bethlehem mayor 2004-13

Joseph Kelly, Bethlehem director of community and economic development 2011-13

Mark Sivak, Bethlehem director of budget and finance

Dennis Reichard, Bethlehem business administrator 1997-2013

Tracey Rash Maher Duessel, independent auditor for Bethlehem

Ashley Ackerson, independent auditor for Bethlehem

James P. Weiss, accountant for Fox Center

Jim Broughal, solicitor for Bethlehem Authority, the city’s water authority

Jody Reppert, Bethlehem assistant to  director of parks and public property

Dana Grubb, former Bethlehem grant administrator

Linda Lea Kunsman, Offices of James P. Weiss

Gerard Walsh, Northampton County detective

Robert P. Caruso, Pennsylvania State Ethics Commission executive director

Nancy Sykes, Fox Center board of directors member and events planner

Cynthia Biedenkopf, Bethlehem city clerk

William Leeson, Bethlehem solicitor

Levi Arevalo, Fox Center board member

Karen Dolan, Bethlehem City Council member

Star witness and defense attorney in Bethlehem gunbattle trials get heated

Posted by Reblog: Lehigh Valley News.

Northampton County Judge Anthony Beltrami warned defense attorney Jack McMahon that his running comments while cross-examining witnesses would no longer be tolerated.

The star witness in the South Side Bethlehem gunbattle trials sparred with defense attorney Jack McMahon for hours from the witness stand Thursday afternoon with both men losing their cool.

Orialis Figueroa, the only person who’s admitted to firing a gun during the deadly firefight outside the Puerto Rican Beneficial Society Dec. 2, 2012, was often evasive and contradicted himself before the Northampton County jury. He and McMahon, the lawyer representing alleged killer Rene Figueroa, spent much of the afternoon speaking over each other, drawing rebukes from Judge Anthony Beltrami.

Orialis Figueroa testified Javier Rivera-Alvarado shot Luis Rivera and Yolanda Morales before he knocked him out with a baseball bat to the back of the head, he said. Orialis Figueroa said he had grabbed the gunman’s pistol when Rene Figueroa shot Morales at point-blank range before wounding Angel Figueroa, Orialis’ brother. Orialis and Rene Figueroa then exchanged fire, with Rene Figueroa escaping back into the club after receiving multiple gunshot wounds, Orialis Figuero said.

“I shot him until the clip ran out,” he said. “I seen him fall to his knees (sic).”

McMahon focused his questions on inconsistencies Orialis Figueroa offered during his testimony. During a preliminary hearing in 2013, Orialis Figueroa confused the two defendants, but he was certain which shooter was which Thursday. When McMahon asked him about it, Orialis Figueroa denied ever misspeaking, and a flabbergasted McMahon read the court transcript to prove him wrong.

McMahon repeatedly asked Orialis Figuerao if he confused the two, drawing silence and shrugs from the witness. McMahon persisted until Orialis Figueroa snapped.

“Correct!” he screamed into the microphone.

“You get agitated pretty quickly, don’t you?” McMahon asked.

In his opening argument Wednesday, McMahon argued Orialis Figueroa was the aggressor who attacked Rivera-Alvarado in a case of mistaken identity. A man inside the club allegedly threatened Orialis Figuerao’s life, and, blinded by rage, he sneaked up and swung the bat at the wrong man, he argued.

Orialis Figueroa stuck to his version from the stand, saying he acted to protect his family and friends. He said Rivera-Alvarado was moving to shoot Luis Rivera again when he dropped him with the bat.

“If I didn’t get him, he would have shot two people,” he said.

McMahon played a video of Orialis Figueroa storming out of the club minutes before the firefight. When he gets to the front door, footage showed Orialis Figueroa turned back and demonstratively gestured in the man’s direction. Once outside, Orialis is seen pacing on the sidewalk before rushing off to grab the bat from his van. From the stand, Orialis Figueroa grinned, leaned back back in his chair, tucked both hands behind his head and said he wasn’t angry at the time.

“The motions you make inside the bar is indicative of your calmness, and the pacing outside is indicative of your calmness?” McMahon sarcastically asked.

The back and forth lasted for more than three hours with Orialis Figueroa interrupting McMahon’s questions and the attorney snapping back at him. McMahon questioned how the jury could believe Orialis Figueroa pulled a baseball bat out of his pants and swung it before a man with a gun leveled at his head could squeeze the trigger, but Figueroa stuck to his story. He denied ever attacking someone with the bat before but said he’s stuck the bat down his pants since the shooting.

“If I did that in the past, I’d be sitting right here … with charges,” he said, referring to the courtroom. “I’m not charged.”

“Maybe you should be,” McMahon retorted, drawing an immediate warning from Beltrami.

The trial broke for the day before Ed Andres, Rivera-Alvarado’s defense attorney, could begin his cross-examination. After the jury left the room, Beltrami made clear that he would not tolerate McMahon’s running comments if they continued.

Rene Figueroa is charged with 22 counts and could be sentenced to death if convicted of Morales’ murder. Rivera-Alvarado faces 20 charges, including three counts of attempted homicide.

Bethlehem planners give nod to Third Street apartments, stores and offices

Posted by Reblog: Lehigh Valley News.

The project now must go before the City Revitalization and Improvement Zone board.

A project that will transform three parking lots on Bethlehem’s Third Street into a mix of retail, office space and high-end apartments got the final nod from city planners Thursday afternoon.

After a short presentation, the Bethlehem Planning Commission voted to give final land approval for the three-building Greenway Commons project proposed by developer BethWorks Renovations.

Chair James Fiorentino thanked developers for creating a great project.

“We’re very happy to see this sort of project on our South Side,” he said.

Now, the project must go before Bethlehem’s City Revitalization and Improvement Zone board for approval. The zone allows developers to use state and local non-property taxes toward the cost of their projects.

Developers hope to break ground on the project early this spring, said Rob de Beer, director of development for Peron Development, Michael Perrucci’s Bethlehem-based development group. Perrucci is a partner in BethWorks Renovations.

The new buildings will surround a former bank building on East Third Street that BethWorks Renovations is remodeling into a distillery and restaurant. Franklin Hill Vineyards will operate the new business, which will be called Social Still.

De Beer helped get Social Still through the CRIZ board so he’s confident the process should go well.

Plans call for building the two residential buildings first and then the building with office space in a second-phase, de Beer said. He called the project a classic urban-infill that will revitalize an underutilized stretch of East Third Street.

The five-story building would be located at 422-430 E. Third St., which is on the corner of Fillmore Street, and consist of the first-floor retail and 96 up-scale apartments. The company’s other proposed four-story building at 600-630 E. Third St. would have first-floor retail space and 15 apartments.

The final four-story building of mixed office and retail space will be built atop parking lots in the 500 block of East Third Street currently used for community college parking. The mix of office, shops and apartments mean the buildings will be used 24/7, de Beer said.

“Buildings that will be alive morning, noon and nights,” de Beer said.

The rear of the project will face the Bethlehem Greenway, hence the name. The developer has agreed to provide a significant amount of parking on site and to replace trees.

Sara K. Satullo may be reached at ssatullo@express-times.com. Follow her on Twitter @sarasatullo. Find Bethlehem news on Facebook.

Karen Dolan violated ethics laws, should resign from Bethlehem City Council, grand jury finds

Posted by Reblog: Lehigh Valley News.

Dolan could face criminal or civil sanctions upon an additional review pending by the Pennsylvania State Ethics Commission, Northampton County District Attorney John Morganelli announced.

UPDATE: Karen Dolan ‘not fit’ for elected office, grand jury finds in scathing report

Bethlehem City Councilwoman Karen Dolan should resign because she influenced city policy benefiting a nonprofit of which she was director, a Northampton County grand jury has found.

The 20-member grand jury further recommended the Pennsylvania State Ethics Commission further investigate Dolan’s actions to decide whether criminal or civil sanctions are appropriate, county District Attorney John Morganelli said Thursday in announcing the grand jury’s findings.

The grand jury’s report found Dolan had violated state ethics laws, a felony, Morganelli said.

Dolan could not immediately be reached for comment following an afternoon news conference held by the district attorney.

The grand jury was empaneled April 24 to begin investigating Dolan’s dual roles on city council and as executive director at the Gertrude B. Fox Environmental Center at Illick’s Mill in Bethlehem, a role she had resigned a week prior, Morganelli said.

Its focus was twofold: a $127,959 debt owed by the center to the city, which subleased the mill to the nonprofit, and whether Dolan’s actions violated state ethics laws.

Both while as volunteer director of the center and after she began collecting a $2,000 monthly salary, which she had negotiated, starting in October 2013, Dolan used her position on city council to influence city policy, the grand jury found.

The grand jury made seven recommendations to the city, including that Dolan voluntarily resign from council within 14 days. Other recommendations dealt with new disclosures by city council and administrative employees about any for- or nonprofit organizations in which they are involved, and advice that they refrain from city business that could impact these organizations.

The Fox Center should also begin repaying the debt to the city in small increments, the grand jury found.

Man accused of stealing car from Musikfest, driving drunk to girlfriend’s house facing trial

Posted by Reblog: Lehigh Valley News.

Zakkary Michael Zabower also ran away from a Pennsylvania State Police trooper who tried to arrest him, records say.

An Allentown man accused of stealing a car from Musikfest, driving it drunk to his girlfriend’s home and running away from a Pennsylvania State Police trooper is now facing trial on charges related to the incident.

Zakkary Michael Zabower, 21, of the 900 block of Wahneta Street, waived his preliminary hearing Wednesday morning on charges of drunken driving, theft, receiving stolen property and resisting arrest. District Judge Daniel C. Trexler forwarded all of the charges to Lehigh County Court.

Zabower remains free after posting 10 percent of $25,000 bail.

Zabower’s alleged crime spree was discovered when he drove to his girlfriend’s Lower Milford Township home about 4:05 a.m. Aug. 4 and climbed into her second-floor window. The girl’s father, William Carl Buchter, called police and told troopers Zabower showed up uninvited and may have driven there in a stolen car, according to court records.

Zabower, who was seated in the living room, told Trooper Angel Cruz he went to Musikfest in Bethlehem to find a car to drive to his girlfriend’s house.

Zabower told police he found an unlocked 2004 Nissan Maxima parked beneath the Hill-to-Hill Bridge with the keys inside and drove to Lower Milford, records say. The vehicle was reported stolen, police said.

Zabower, who had bloodshot eyes and smelled of alcohol, told the trooper he began drinking about 11 p.m. Sunday and took prescription medication two hours before that, records say.

Zabower failed field sobriety tests and a breath test showed he had alcohol in his system, records say. When Cruz tried to handcuff Zabower, he ran into the woods behind the house, records say.

Zabower was eventually caught after a chase and arrested, police said.

Sarah Cassi may be reached at scassi@express-times.com. Follow her on Twitter@SarahCassi. Find Lehigh County news on Facebook.

Strain of enterovirus inflicting child in Bethlehem unclear at this point, health official says

Posted by Reblog: Lehigh Valley News.

The Diocese of Allentown reports a student at St. Anne's School was diagnosed with the disease, but the Pennsylvania Department of Health has yet to label it as a confirmed case.

It’s too soon to say if the St. Anne’s School student diagnosed with the enterovirus has the strain of the virus that has been causing severe respiratory illness among children across the country, health officials said.

The Pennsylvania Department of Health has been tracking cases of the EV-D68 strain, health department spokesman Wes Culp said Tuesday morning.

But he cautioned that the cases the health department has labeled as confirmed cases are those that have been tested and verified by the Centers for Disease Control.

He said he did not immediately have any information on the case at St. Anne’s School in Bethlehem.

The Diocese of Allentown earlier Tuesday said a student at the school has been diagnosed with the virus, but did not specify the strain.

The St. Anne’s student is under a doctor’s care but has not been hospitalized and is recovering at home, said Matt Kerr, Diocese of Allentown spokesman.

The school is open, but is taking steps to prevent the spread of germs, Kerr said. Parents were notified of the students’ diagnosis via email or phone call, he said.

As of Tuesday morning, the Pennsylvania Department of Health’s website was reporting six confirmed cases of EV-D68 statewide. None of those cases are in Lehigh or Northampton counties.

Five are in the southeast region of the state; one is in the southwest region of the state, according to the website.

The virus has gotten heightened attention this year because it’s been linked to hundreds of severe illnesses. Beginning last month, hospitals in Kansas City, Missouri, and Chicago have received a flood of children with trouble breathing. It’s  being eyed as a factor in at least four deaths. 

The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

Attorneys in South Side Bethlehem gunbattle trials give wildly different explanations of events

Posted by Reblog: Lehigh Valley News.

Opening arguments occurred this morning.

Attorneys gave wildly differing explanations to the deadly 2012 South Bethlehem gunbattle, with defense attorneys blaming star witness Orialis Figueroa as the man who fired the fatal shot.

Attorneys Jack McMahon and Ed Andres said that neutral eyewitness testimony and physical evidence prove that Orialis Figueroa was the only man handling the gun used in the death of Yolanda Morales, 23, of Bethlehem.

Instead of arresting him, police trusted his version of events and charged Rene Figueroa, 34, of Allentown, and Javier Rivera-Alvarado, 40, the attorneys said. Orialis Figueroa should be sitting in that chair and they should be calling Rene Figueroa and Javier Rivera-Alvarado as witnesses, McMahon said.

First Assistant District Attorney Terry Houck painted Orialis Figueroa as a man caught up in a desperate attempt to save his life and the lives of his family and friends.

Houck said Orialis Figueroa left the Puerto Rican Beneficial Society in the early morning hours of Dec. 2, 2012. A man inside had threatened him, so he retrieved a baseball bat for protection from his van, Houck said.

On his way back to the club, Orialis Figueroa told police Rivera-Alvarado approached him from behind with a gun drawn, Houck said. Orialis Figueroa swung his bat but was shot by Rivera-Alvarado, he said.

Orialis Figueroa’s brother Angel Figueroa and Morales rushed to his aid but Rivera-Alvarado shot Morales in the arm, Houck said. Orialis Figueroa then swung the bat at Rivera-Alvarado’s head knocking him unconscious, he said.

At this point, prosecutors said Rene Figueroa approached with his gun drawn, grabbed Morales and shot her at point-blank range, Houck said. Rene Figueroa then fired at Angel Figueroa hitting him in the back and paralyzing him, Houck said.

Rene Figueroa fled back to the club but not before being shot multiple times by Orialis Figueroa with Rivera-Alvarado’s gun, Houck said.

Houck asked the jury to pay close attention to the witnesses’ testimony.

“I want you to be there, on their shoulders Dec. 2, 2012, to experience what they went through,” Houck. “I want you to live through what they lived through.”

Rivera-Alvarado is charged with three counts of attempted homicide and 17 other charges.

Figueroa’s bullet killed Morales, police said, and he could face the death penalty if convicted of her murder.

While in Northampton County Prison, Rene Figueroa tried to hire fellow inmate James Martin to kill Orialis Figueroa and his girlfriend, Shajuan Hungerford, police said. The plan failed when he could not afford Martin’s bail, so Rene Figueroa and his fiance, Sonia Panell, plotted to hire a hit man to kill witnesses, including Angel Figueroa and Hungerford, authorities said. The assassin, however, was actually an FBI informant who recorded his conversations with Panell, according to court documents.

Rene Figueroa is not related to any of his alleged victims, authorities said. He is not on trial this week on charges he solicited murder-for-hire.

Attorneys are expected to call their first witness this afternoon.

First case of enterovirus reported in Lehigh Valley

Posted by Reblog: Lehigh Valley News.

The student is under a doctor's care but not hospitalized, according to the Diocese of Allentown.

A student at St. Anne’s School in Bethlehem has been diagnosed with the enterovirus, marking the first diagnosis in the Lehigh Valley region.

The virus has been causing severe respiratory illness across the country, sickening more than 500 people in 43 states and Washington, D.C. — almost all of them children. It has been linked with the deaths of a handful of children.

The virus is not new; most people that catch it experience only a runny nose and low-grade fever. It was first identified in 1962 and has caused clusters of illness before.

The St. Anne’s student is under a doctor’s care but has not been hospitalized, said Matt Kerr, Diocese of Allentown spokesman.

“The student’s recovering at home,” Kerr said.

The school remains open and is following U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines, Kerr said. Families were notified via e-mail or a phone call per their preferences, he said.

“Teachers have been instructed to disinfect student desks throughout the day,” according to the e-mail. “Cleaning priority has been given by our custodial staff for all surfaces touched by students.”

The school is encouraging students to bring water bottles to school to avoid drinking from the water fountains. St. Anne’s will provide disposable cups for the water fountains that will be available in classrooms.

Students will be urged by teachers to disinfect their hands at the classroom stations, the e-mail states.

“Please encourage your child to use proper hygiene,” according to the e-mail. “If your child is exhibiting respiratory symptoms, please use good judgement in sending them to school.”


RELATED:Avoiding enterovirus: Tips offered after cases surface in Pa.


The CDC recommends making sure children and their parents are up to date on all vaccinations, including those against respiratory diseases like flu, measles and whooping cough. The other advice has to do with basic hygiene — wash hands frequently with soap and water, stay away from sick people and disinfect objects that a sick person has touched. See a doctor right away if your child starts having severe problems breathing, develops difficulty moving their limbs or walking or standing.

The virus has gotten heightened attention this year because it’s been linked to hundreds of severe illnesses. Beginning last month, hospitals in Kansas City, Missouri, and Chicago have received a flood of children with trouble breathing.

Some children are especially vulnerable to infection because of pre-existing conditions, though the medical examiner said that was not the case in the New Jersey boy’s death. Most of the severe cases nationwide have involved children because they generally have not been exposed to enteroviruses as often as adults have and are less likely to have developed immunity to them, officials say.

It is being eyed as a possible factor in at least four deaths, and muscle weakness and paralysis in children in Colorado and perhaps other states.

The Mercer County, New Jersey, medical examiner has found four-year-old Eli Waller’s death was a result of the virus.

Health officials have not found a recent mutation or other change in the virus that would cause it to become more dangerous. Clusters have been reported in other countries, including some Asia nations and the Netherlands, in recent years.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Sara K. Satullo may be reached at ssatullo@express-times.com. Follow her on Twitter @sarasatullo. Find Bethlehem news on Facebook.