Archive for category Bethlehem

Bethlehem parents who dealt heroin sentenced to prison

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Charles Carlos Perez Jr., 29, and Susana Daniela Amador, 27, were arrested in a February raid of their home, police said.

A Bethlehem couple who dealt heroin out of the home they shared with their 6-year-old son were each sentenced to prison Thursday.

Charles Carlos Perez Jr., 29, and Susana Daniela Amador, 27, were arrested in a February raid of their home at 1136 Dover Lane in the Marvine-Pembroke housing complex, police said.

RELATED: Couple dealt heroin out of apartment that housed 6-year-old child, Bethlehem police say

Perez pleaded guilty Thursday to charges of possession with intent to distribute heroin and endangering the welfare of children. He was sentenced to 28 months to four-and-a-half years in prison followed by three years of probation, court records state.

Amador pleaded guilty to charges of endangering the welfare of children and possession with intent to distribute heroin. She was sentenced to spend five to 23 months in Northampton County Prison followed by three years of probation, according to court records.

Authorities recovered 220 bags of heroin with a street value of about $2,200, as well as $1,933 in cash, from the home, police said. Used syringes and empty heroin bags were littered about the apartment, according to police.

Bethlehem police Chief Mark DiLuzio said at the time of their arrest that officers were disturbed to find empty heroin bags and a razor blade in the 6-year-old boy’s room.

Police contacted the housing authority and city health department since the living conditions inside the apartment were unsanitary, DiLuzio said.

Northampton County Children and Youth Services were also contacted to check on the well-being of the child.

Perez told police where to find the drugs and said Amador, his girlfriend, was aware that he was selling heroin, police said. Amador told police she knew where the income was coming from and had a drug addiction herself.

Sara K. Satullo may be reached at Follow her on Twitter@sarasatullo. Find on Facebook.

Ben Franklin TechVentures eying expansion in Bethlehem

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The business incubator space wants to put a four-story addition onto its existing space.

Ben Franklin TechVentures on Lehigh University’s Mountaintop Campus is bursting at the seams and hoping to expand.

The technology-based incubator and post-incubator facility last expanded in 2011. 

Owner Ben Franklin Technology Partners of Northeastern Pennsylvania is seeking to add about 15,000 square feet addition of business incubation, office and conference meeting space, said Laura Eppler, director of marketing.

Dubbed TechVentures West Wing, the four-floor addition will complement the existing wet lab and allow resident clients to expand their office needs, Eppler said.

Ben Franklin has applied to the Bethlehem zoning board for a variance to construct the addition that would be the same height of the existing building. The issue is scheduled to go before zoners on Wednesday July 22.

“We’re planning ahead to expand to offer incubation space for other early stage businesses,” Eppler said. “It will be integrated within the existing building where the loading dock is now.”

The project is in the early planning stages and Ben Franklin is seeking various grants to fund it. There’s no timeline or estimated cost yet in place.

“It’s really a good problem to have, as it were,” Eppler said. “It puts in a good position to get grants.”

PLUS: Iconic Martin Tower could come down if zoning changes

TechVentures is the larger successor to the Ben Franklin Business Incubator. Established in 1983 it was one of the country’s first business incubators, Eppler said. 

Ben Franklin connects resident companies with an experienced incubator staff and gives them access to Lehigh’s resources, including equipment, faculty and facilities.

The original 62,000-square-foot facility was expanded after two years, adding 47,000 square feet of wet labs, meeting space and a parking deck. The wet lab — equipped with plumbing and ventilation — is a really unique offering, something that would be nearly impossible for an early stage firm to build, Eppler said.

Currently, 36 early-stage firms that employ 170 people are occupying 109,000 square feet of space. 

Since it opened, the incubator has graduated 64 companies that “have created more than 6,400 jobs and grossed more than $1.2 billion in annual revenue last year,” according to Ben Franklin.

Sara K. Satullo may be reached at Follow her on Twitter @sarasatullo. Find on Facebook.

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Woman catches thief with video camera, police say

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Victim says man was able to gain access through a back window despite it being secured.


Bethlehem woman tired of her home being robbed multiple times set up a video camera and was able to record the thief in action, police say.

Lisa Egry in April had reported to police an unknown suspect kept entering her home in the 1800 block of Cloverleaf Street through a back window. Even after securing the window, Egry reported more instances of the alleged thief gaining access.

Egry then set up a video camera and through footage, identified the suspect as Steven Albert Heptner, 47, of the 500 block of Forrest Avenue, a former friend, court records say.

Heptner allegedly entered the home on May 13, May 14 and May 15 and made off with $75 worth of beer from her refrigerator and $10 in cash on a table.

Police say Egry also was able to identify a photo of Heptner as the person matching the video footage.

Heptner was charged with three counts burglary, three counts criminal trespass,m receiving stolen property and theft. He was arraigned Thursday before District Judge Antonia Grifo, who set bail at $20,000. In lieu of bail, he was taken to the Northampton County Prison.

The judge set conditions Heptner undergo Pretrial Services, have no contact with the victim and submit to random drug and alcohol testing. The judge also would allow 10 percent of $20,000 bail if Pretrial Services approved it.

Pamela Sroka-Holzmann may be reached at Follow her on Twitter @pamholzmann.

Iconic Martin Tower could come down if zoning changes

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Thursday the Bethlehem Planning Bureau made the case for switching the zoning to encourage a mixed-use development of the site.

The iconic and polarizing Martin Tower could be torn down if city officials decide to support changing the 53-acres site’s zoning.

Thursday the Bethlehem Planning Bureau made the case for switching the zoning to encourage a mixed-use redevelopment of the site.

But the city planning commission held off on a vote over concerns the entire site could become a shopping center, with no homes, like the Promenade Shops at Saucon Valley in Upper Saucon Township.

The commission asked for clarifications to inconsistencies in the proposed zoning change and suggested the city administration require any redevelopment be truly mixed use.

“It ought to be a balance between residential and commercial,” said James Fiorentino, commission chairman.

The idea of tearing down the Lehigh Valley’s highest building, at 21 stories, provoked little controversy. Although, Fiorentino remarked the commission could be signing its “death warrant” if it approved the zoning change.

Main Street business owners were back to voice their opposition to a retail-driven redevelopment of Martin Tower.

RELATED: Bethlehem’s downtowns under assault, businesses warn

Hotel Bethlehem managing partner Bruce Haines reiterated concerns that the site could become a third downtown, a drain on the city’s existing two downtowns, which are under assault.

“We are creating a competition against our existing downtown businesses that is really driven by the CRIZ,” Haines said.

The former Bethlehem Steel corporate headquarters site is part of Bethlehem’s City Revitalization and Improvement Zone — a state economic development incentive area. There is no CRIZ incentive for developers Lewis Ronca and Norton Herrick to build homes, several residents emphasized.

City Council President J. William Reynolds, who was in the audience at the meeting, said Bethlehem is getting a reputation as a city where it is impossible to get any development done. He argued that’s a major reason Bethlehem is losing out to Allentown and Easton.

These small fights send a message to those on the sidelines and make them question investing in the city, Reynolds said.

The 1-million-square-foot Martin Tower has sat vacant for a decade. The site’s zoning was updated in 2006 to incentivize reuse of the tower, explained Darlene Heller, city planning director.

“What’s on the books right now isn’t working,” Heller said.

A zoning overlay was put into place that allowed 425,000-square-feet of retail or other uses and dense residential development but it required keeping the tower.

While it is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the Eighth Avenue tower is not within a historic district. That mean’s the zoning overlay is one of the only things incentivizing the developers to keep Martin Tower standing.

But city officials no longer believer its reasonable to require the developers to keep the tower, Heller said. The zoning change would remove the overlay and rezone the site to allow for a mixed-use development.

“We’re trying to weigh the condition of the building and its obsolescence and the practicality of its reuse versus the historic merit,” Heller said.

No decision has been made on keeping or demolishing the tower, according to Duane Wagner, Ronca and Herrick’s representative. He attended Thursday’s meeting but did not speak publicly. There are no updated plans for redeveloping the site, he said, noting the zoning update is key.

The proposed zoning switch would allow a broad type of uses from casual fast food eateries, like Panera and Chipotle, to a doggie day care or a microbrewery or live theater. City officials want a walkable, mixed use development that’s integrated into the community, Heller said.

Bethlehem business leaders want to see a mix of homes, offices and limited commercial. They could swallow some banks or medical offices but they don’t want to see a shopping and eating destination, said Neville Gardner, owner of Donegal Square and McCarthy’s Red Stag Pub.

Business owners hope residents of the site would use the Monocacy Trail to quickly make it to Center City or to South Side Bethlehem.

“We looked at that property as a feeder to the downtown,” Haines said.

Changing the zoning could prevent that, he said.

Bethlehem businesses don’t shy away from fair competition. But Allentown’s Neighborhood Improvement Zone offers lease rates Bethlehem can’t compete with, Haines said. The CRIZ has the potential to do the same thing at Martin Tower, he argued.

“What’s really happening here is we are changing the zoning to accommodate the ability of the developer to utilize his CRIZ to the maximum extent possible,” Haines said.

Sara K. Satullo may be reached at Follow her on Twitter@sarasatullo. Find on Facebook.


Rollover accident blocks Route 33 ramp to Interstate 78

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It was reported about 5:25 p.m. Thursday, with no one reported injured.

Rollover accident blocks Route 33 ramp to Interstate 78A rollover crash Thursday evening blocks the ramp from Route 33 South to Interstate 78 East in Northampton County. (Courtesy photo | For 

A rollover crash Thursday evening blocked the ramp from Route 33 South to Interstate 78 East in Northampton County, according to emergency radio broadcasts and the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation.

Traffic was backing up on the Route 33 South ramp, but I-78 East seemed to be flowing fine, a PennDOT traffic camera showed.

It was reported about 5:25 p.m., with no one reported injured.

Drunk man takes chair, strikes home window of ex, police say

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Suspect drove drunk to his ex-wife's house, struck a vehicle, made threats and then tried to break a window with a metal chair, police say.

An Allentown man drove drunk to his ex-wife’s house, struck a vehicle, made threats and then tried to break a window with a metal chair, police said.

Esvin Saul Buezo, 26, of the 100 block of Furnace Street, shortly after midnight Wednesday is accused of driving drunk to the home of his ex-wife, Daisy Cordon, in the 1500 block of Irene Street in Bethlehem.

He then crashed his Toyota 4-Runner into the back of a parked Toyota owned by Rafael Hernandez, who was staying at the ex-wife’s home. Court documents filed by police did not specify the relationship between Cordon and Hernandez except to say Hernandez does not live at the Irene Street home.

Hernandez claims to police in court records he saw Buezo intentionally go into reverse and then drive into his vehicle.

Police say Buezo had wanted to see the couple’s 3-year-old son and there is an active protection-from-abuse order filed against him in New York, effective until Dec. 2, 2015. The order states Buezo cannot have contact with his two children, according to court documents.

After crashing, Buezo allegedly began yelling at Hernandez, “Come outside. I’m going to kill you!” He then picked up a metal lawn chair that was outside the home and threw it against a screen window leading to the living room of the house, police say.

Both Hernandez and Cordon then ran to the other side of the window, fighting Buezo to stay out of the home, police say. Hernandez grabbed a Swiffer mop and struck Buezo in the face to prevent him from coming through the window, police said.

Buezo was transported to an area hospital for treatment of an upper lip injury and a blood draw was performed to determine if his blood-alcohol content, police say.

Hernandez suffered multiple injuries, including swelling and bleeding on his back, chest and left side hip area, from fighting Buezo, police say.

Buezo is facing several charges, including burglary, criminal trespass, criminal mischief, making terroristic threats, simple assault, harassment, DUI and disorderly conduct.

He was arraigned Wednesday before District Judge Richard Yetter III, who set bail at $45,000. Buezo failed to post bail and was transported to the Northampton County Prison.

Pamela Sroka-Holzmann may be reached at Follow her on Twitter @pamholzmann.

SoccerFest fans cheer U.S. women in World Cup final (PHOTOS)

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ArtsQuest hosted the final viewing party Sunday of the FIFA Women's World Cup.

SoccerFest fans rang out the Women’s World Cup in style Sunday night.

A large crowd gathered outside the ArtsQuest Center at SteelStacks in Bethlehem for the final viewing party of the FIFA Women’s World Cup.

The U.S. team jumped out to a commanding 4-0 lead, delighting the Lehigh Valley crowd.

ArtsQuest hosted several viewing parties during the soccer tournament, which ended with Sunday’s championship.

The Americans beat Japan, 5-2, to capture the U.S women’s national team’s third Word Cup title.

Runners participate in inaugural ‘Rosie the Riveter’ 5K in Bethlehem

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An estimated 100 runners Sunday concluded Independence Day weekend festivities with the inaugural "Rosie the Riveter" 5K run at SteelStacks in Bethlehem.

An estimated 100 runners Sunday concluded Independence Day weekend festivities with the inaugural “Rosie the Riveter” 5K run at SteelStacks in Bethlehem.

The event kicked-off at 9:30 a.m. as part of ArtsQuest’s Independence Day Weekend at SteelStacks. The race ended with a backyard barbeque, in which all participants received an official race T-shirt, hot dog, snow cone and lemonade. There also was live music and backyard games, including corn hole and quoits and lawn sprinklers to cool off in.

A portion of the race’s proceeds benefited ArtsQuest and the organization’s free programming in the region. Additionally, the race supported local women’s shelters and centers by encouraging participants to donate women’s clothing and supplies in a drop-off bin — located on the SteelStacks campus.

Donations will be distributed throughout the region, according to organizers.

Pamela Sroka-Holzmann may be reached at Follow her on Twitter @pamholzmann.

South Side Bethlehem project construction brings road closures

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Greenway Commons is the second project to start construction in Bethlehem's City Revitalization and Improvement Zone.

The start of construction of a three-building complex of luxury apartments, offices and retail space next week means road closures for South Side Bethlehem.

Greenway Commons is being built atop three parking lots across from Northampton Community College along Third Street.

It’s the second project to start construction in Bethlehem’s City Revitalization and Improvement Zone.

Starting early next week until mid-2016, Pierce Street will be closed between Third and Fourth streets as construction spans both sides of the street, according to the city.

Pierce Street will remain partially open between Fourth and Evans streets to allow access to Evans and the parking lot just north. Detour signs will direct drivers to utilize Fillmore Street and yield to oncoming traffic at the Bethlehem Greenway crossing.

Greenway Commons will flank BethWorks Renovations’ first CRIZ project, Social Still distillery. The state economic development incentive allows new businesses within the zone to use new state and local non-property taxes toward project financing.

BethWorks had said they were seeking a restaurant to anchor the building directly next-door to Social Still.

The developer has said they plan to first begin building the two retail-and-apartment buildings. Construction on the retail-and-office building will begin once work on a nearby garage the complex plans to use for parking is underway.

Sara K. Satullo may be reached at Follow her on Twitter @sarasatullo. Find on Facebook.

Wanted Bethlehem man jumps from moving car, Allentown police say

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The man told officers he knows he has a warrant, and that's why he ran, records say.

allentown police carAllentown police say a wanted Bethlehem man jumped out of a moving car and tried to flee. (Sarah Cassi| photo) 

A wanted Bethlehem man jumped from a moving car while trying to flee Allentown police Sunday night, authorities said.

Arthur Whitaker, 29, of the 500 block of East Morton Street, was apprehended and charged with escape, disorderly conduct, possession of crack, possession of drug paraphernalia, driving without rear lights, and driving with a suspended license. Whitaker was sent to Lehigh County Jail in lieu of $15,000 bail.

Allentown police said an officer tried to stop Whitaker at 11:50 p.m. Sunday on North 10th Street. Whitaker made a right onto Gordon Street and seemed to be parking, police said, but he instead jumped out of the moving car and started running.

After a chase, Whitaker was arrested on North 10th Street, police said. The car was towed and, during an inventory search, officers found crack on the rear driver’s side seat, according to court records.

Allentown officers also learned Whitaker was wanted in Bethlehem in a simple assault case. Whitaker admitted to police he knew he had a warrant, and that was why he ran, police said.

Sarah Cassi may be reached at Follow her on Twitter@SarahCassi. Find Lehigh County news on Facebook.