Teen who admitted assaulting Lehigh University student learns his fate

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A teenager who admitted to the attempted murder and sexual assault of a Lehigh University student learned his fate Thursday morning.

A Northampton County judge sentenced Bryan Sanchez Osorio to 28 to 80 years in prison.

Prosecutors said even at 17, Osorio is a dangerous sexual predator. He’s a predator that inflicted so much physical and emotional pain on his victim, that she said she cannot stand to look at him.

In a written statement, the Lehigh University exchange student described the events of July 16, 2014.

That’s when, police said, Osorio climbed through a window on Carlton Avenue in Bethlehem and attacked the victim, ripping off her clothes and trying to choke her.

The victim told the court she was frightened.

“When I begged for my life, he put two fingers to my windpipe and squeezed,” she said.

The woman’s roommate called police, and Osorio was arrested.

As part of a deal with prosecutors, Osorio pleaded guilty to attempted homicide, attempted rape, aggravated assault and burglary in February.

In court, Osorio asked for forgiveness. The judge told him he should ask the victim for forgiveness.

In her statement, the woman, who said he still has flashbacks about the attack, told the judge, “Please do not let him harm any more innocent people.”

The judge sentenced Osorio, who has a history of mental illness.

“It was expected. I knew it as going to be a harsh sentence, a tough sentence. It had to be because of the nature of the crime, but it does allow my client the ability to rehabilitate himself,” said defense attorney Anthony Rybak.

In the sentence, the judge also ordered that Osorio never be alone with female prison personnel, echoing recommendations made in Osorio’s records.

Pennsylvanians support death penalty moratorium

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A new poll suggests 50 percent of Pennsylvanians support Gov. Tom Wolf’s decision to temporarily pause executions.

Only 44 percent oppose the decision and five percent are unsure how they feel, according to  poll results released Wednesday..

The poll also revealed that 54 percent of Pennsylvanians prefer some version of a life in prison sentence over the death penalty.

Only 42 percent of respondents said the death penalty is their preferred punishment for persons convicted of murder.

The was conducted by Public Policy Polling and commissioned by a criminal justice professor at York College.

While running for governor, Wolf repeatedly pledged to halt executions if elected.

In February, one month into his term, he announced his decision to pause executions until the bipartisan Task Force and Advisory Committee on Capital Punishment  issues a report and its recommendations satisfactorily are addressed.

The governor’s announcement stated: “If the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania is going to take the irrevocable step of executing a human being, its capital sentencing system must be infallible. Pennsylvania’s system is riddled with flaws, making it error prone, expensive, and anything but infallible.”

The poll was conducted March 20-22 and has a margin of error of plus or minus 4.2 percent. The survey included 632 Pennsylvania voters.

The survey also found that only three percent of voters said the death penalty is the most important issue when deciding how to vote for Pennsylvania state legislator.

A sizable 78 percent  indicated that if they generally agree with a candidate on most issues, and are of the same political party, they are likely to vote for that candidate regardless of his or her position on the death penalty.

When asked about cost, the poll found that 70 percent  of voters think the death penalty is less expensive than a sentence of life in prison without parole.

“This poll suggests that there is a really significant opportunity to explain to voters why the death penalty costs so much more than a sentence of life in prison without parole,” said Dr. Eric Ling, an associate professor of criminal justice at York College who commissioned the poll.

“Pennsylvania has spent $350 million on the death penalty over the past few decades while carrying out just three executions.

“Clearly, more information about how much the state is really spending on the death penalty and what taxpayers are getting in return would be helpful.

“This is the type of information the Advisory Committee on Capital Punishment should be able to shed some light on when they issue their report.”

Ling has been talking to his criminal justice students about the death penalty for the last few years.

“I wanted to see how attitudes about the death penalty were being shaped by the governor’s decision to pause executions and find out whether Pennsylvanians’ views on capital punishment would mirror the national trend, which is moving away from the punishment,” said Ling.

“Given that 54 percent of voters prefer some version of a life in prison sentence for persons convicted of murder, this poll indicates that Pennsylvanians are open to exploring alternatives to the death penalty.”

U.S. House passes reforrms to strengthen Medicare

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A permanent repeal and replacement of Medicare’s Sustainable Growth Rate was approved by a 392-37 vote in the U.S. House of Representatives Thursday.

“Medicare recipients and their doctors deserve certainty of coverage and rates, and American taxpayers deserve reforms to ensure their hard-earned money is used effectively and efficiently,” said U.S. Rep Mike Fitzpatrick of Bucks County in a news release Thursday.

“Today’s bipartisan passage of a permanent Sustainable Growth Rate repeal and replacement measure is a win-win for both sides.

“For years, Congress has passed the buck on serious reforms that strengthen Medicare and stuck American families with the bill.

“This move changes that and puts in motion real entitlement reforms that save taxpayers $295 billion while preventing cuts to Medicare reimbursement rates.

“By ending the need for continued budgetary gimmicks and removing the specter of harmful cuts to vital programs, the House has cleared the way for long term stability within Medicare and proven that bipartisanship is possible to address the major challenges facing our nation. It is my hope this momentum can continue moving forward.”

Highlights of the proposed legislation include:

Ends the cycle of cliffs and provides stability to the Medicare program for seniors and providers

The bicameral bipartisan SGR repeal and replace policy provides stability to the program and ensures seniors will have access to their doctors through transitioning away from volume-based reimbursements towards a new system focused on quality, value and accountability.

Since 2003, Congress has spent nearly $170 billion on 17 short-term patches, showing no intention of allowing unsustainable cuts imposed by the flawed SGR formal to go into effect.

This package finally ends the cycle of cliffs and “must-pass” legislation that often serve as vehicles for increased federal spending and new government programs, allowing Congress to go through regular order and legislate thoughtfully.

Offsets spending with permanent structural reforms and other Medicare spending reductions

This bipartisan agreement, for the first time, includes two historic permanent structural Medicare reforms without tax increases also being on the table.

These permanent reforms drive more competition into the program, bending the cost curve and putting us on a sustainable path over the long-term by generate significant savings that more than offset the cost of the SGR fix.

The House GOP budget, numerous bipartisan fiscal commissions, MedPAC, and even the President’s budgets have supported similar structural reforms. While additional reforms are necessary, these policies are an essential first step and foot in the door to premium support and other larger reforms.

Increased means-testing for Medicare Part B and D premiums

The portion of the Medicare Part B and Part D premiums that a beneficiary pays is based on the beneficiary’s income. This policy would increase income-relating of Medicare premiums for the program’s wealthiest seniors starting in 2018. House Republicans voted on similar provisions as part of the Middle Class Tax Relief & Job Creation Act of 2011 (H.R. 3630).

Prohibition of Medigap “first-dollar” coverage

Some Medigap plans on the market today (including those sold by AARP) provide first-dollar coverage for beneficiaries which many have argued increases unnecessary utilization. Beginning in 2020 – for new enrollees only – this provision would limit coverage to costs above the amount of the Part B deductible (currently $147).

The bipartisan package institutes reductions in hospital and post-acute updates to help shore up the Medicare program while also allowing Congress time to go through regular order, working with key stakeholders, and put in place common sense policy changes that ensure access to care for seniors.

Fights fraud, waste and abuse

Includes the bipartisan Protecting Integrity in Medicare Act (H.R. 1021), which strengthens Medicare’s ability to fight fraud and builds on existing program integrity policies. Among other things, this bill removes Social Security numbers from beneficiaries’ Medicare cards eliminating this unnecessary threat to their identity; prevents Medicare payments for ineligible individuals (like deceased or incarcerated); allows Medicare beneficiaries to select electronic Medicare Summary Notices to more quickly catch billing mistakes and save the program money; and removes redundant and burdensome reporting policies for employers.

Increase levy authority on payments to Medicare providers with delinquent tax debt

This good government provision will permit the IRS to impose a levy of up to 100 percent on tax delinquent Medicare service providers.

Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), Medicare, Medicaid, and other health extenders

Extends CHIP and traditional Medicare extenders for two years to allow Congress to work through regular order and institute good reforms under a new President. Passing this package removes the chance of the Senate jamming the House with an entirely unpaid for SGR with longer-term CHIP extensions and spending.

CHIP Extension. Extending CHIP will keep roughly 2.5 million children or pregnant women from becoming uninsured or enrolling in Obamacare’s exchanges (MACPAC). The package also includes a mandated report by HHS’s Office of the Inspector General on the degree to which Express Lane Eligibility has resulted in individuals enrolling in Medicaid or CHIP who do not meet eligibility criteria.

This legislation takes steps to end the cycle of extending “temporary” Medicare policy by making changes to Medicare Reasonable Cost Reimbursement Contracts that successfully winds down this “extender.” This provision allows for a smooth transition policy for cost plans that no longer meet statutory requirements to operate under Medicare to transition to Medicare Advantage plans while protecting beneficiaries from any loss to access or care.

The legislation extends permanently the Transitional Medical Assistance (TMA) program which keeps more than 600,000 individuals out of Obamacare’s exchanges over the coming decade according to initial CBO estimates.

It also extends abstinence only programs through 2017 at $75 million per year, an increase of $25 million annually, providing funding parity with Personal Responsibility Education Program (PREP) and applies the traditional Hyde protections to funding for the Community Health Centers, National Health Service Corps (NHSC), and teaching Health Centers.

David Howard gets up to five years for beating death

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David J. Howard of Bethlehem was sentenced to up to five years in jail in Lehigh County Court Thursday.

He was charged for the February 2013 death of 53-year-old Roman Bentley.

Allentown police said Howard punched  Bentley in the head during a fight at Freddie’s Bar on East Hamilton Street.

Bentley later died at the hospital.

Howard was on the run for several months. He was arrested in December of 2013 and charged with homicide and aggravated assault.

On Thursday morning he was sentenced to 2.5-5 years in prison.

Park service wants dogs to chase geese off National Mall in Washington

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The National Park Service wants to begin using border collies to chase away Canada geese that frequent the Lincoln Memorial reflecting pool and other spots on the National Mall.

The agency said it is seeking public comments on a proposed plan to use the dogs to haze the large and growing geese population and chase them away to other parts of the park.

Park officials said large flocks of geese leave excessive droppings. One goose can leave behind two to three pounds of feces per day. Park officials said the goose droppings can damage pipes and filters in the reflecting pool and create a public health hazard.

Officials said border collies have a natural instinct to round up flocks of geese. They said no birds would be harmed.

Bakery worker finds ‘snow’ in the dough

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An employee at a corporate bakery found more than he bargained for on a production line in Luzerne County on Monday.

The worker was checking dough that was going through a sheet dough machine around 6 p.m. at the Aryzta plant, located at 2 Chestnut Hill Drive in Hazle Township, according to state police.

The worker saw a suspected heroin packet on the dough that was coming through the machine. The employee notified the shift supervisor and all production on the line stopped.

Police said the machine was checked, and officials found more packets of suspected heroin as well as drug paraphernalia inside the machine.

Production on that machine was stopped, the machine shut down, and all of the dough destroyed.

The suspected heroin packets and drug paraphernalia were turned over to state police at Hazleton.

Police conducted interviews with employees, and the supervisor said that particular machine had not been run or used in more than a week and that it was in an area where all 143 employees had access.

The Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture was notified and an inspector was expected to complete an inspection.

The investigation is ongoing. Anyone with information is asked to call state police at 570-459-3890.

According to the Aryzta website, the global food company provides artisan breads and specialty baked goods for customers in food service and retail establishments, including a joint venture with Tim Horton’s.

Worker struck by new roller coaster during testing at Knoebels Amusement Resort

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A worker was struck by a new roller coaster during testing at Knoebels Amusement Resort.

A park spokeswoman said the company employee was struck by the Impulse roller coaster just before 10 a.m. Thursday.

Public relations manager Stacy Ososkie said the man was beside the track when he was hit by a passing car. She said he suffered cuts on the back of his head and to his hand and was taken to a hospital, being conscious and alert upon leaving the park.

“We ask all of our friends to join us in offering our team member thoughts and prayers,” the resort posted on its Facebook page.

The 99-foot-high coaster is the largest project in the park’s history.

The accident occurred at the lowest point of the ride in an area that isn’t accessible to the public.

Testing, which began Sunday, is on hold while park officials examine what occurred to determine whether it’s safe to resume.

Women pictured on Penn State fraternity’s Facebook page talk to police

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Some women pictured nude or semi-nude in photos posted to a Penn State fraternity’s secret Facebook page have come forward, and some frat members are now cooperating with an ongoing criminal investigation, police said.

State College police Lt. Keith Robb said authorities are interviewing them and are asking people to “be patient so we can do our job.”

The Kappa Delta Rho fraternity has been suspended for a year and is being ordered by its national office to reorganize.

Penn State President Eric Barron said the university has also begun a wide review of the role fraternities and sororities play at the school.

The new developments emerged Wednesday as protesters marched to the house and called for the school to shut down the fraternity permanently.

Pair sought in rash of thefts from CVS stores in Berks

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Police are trying to identify a man and woman in connection with a series of thefts at CVS stores in Berks County.

A man and woman, seen in the surveillance photo, took more than $600 worth of Rogaine and Prilosec from the CVS store at 45 Constitution Blvd. in Kutztown on Monday, according to Chief Craig Summers, Kutztown Police Department.

Police said they believe the same pair struck two other CVS stores in Berks County on the same day.

About $850 worth of Rogaine and Prilosec were taken from the CVS store at 8565 Allentown Pike (Route 222) in Maidencreek Township (Blandon), and $1,447 worth of Rogaine and Crest Whitestrips were swiped from the CVS store at 906 W. Leesport Rd. in Bern Township, according to police who cover the municipalities in which those stores are located.

Anyone with information that can help police identify and arrest the individuals is asked to call Crime Alert Berks County at 877-373-9913. A cash reward is being offered for information that leads to an arrest.

According to news reports across the country, Rogaine, Prilosec and teeth whitening strips have been very popular items for thieves to steal and sell over the past several years.

The items are among the top products stolen from grocery stores and pharmacies, according to the National Retail Federation, which cautions consumers to be wary of buying such products outside of reputable retailers.

“Most stolen merchandise is not stored properly and could expose unsuspecting shoppers or their children to a host of risks from spoiled baby formula and pain medication to inaccurate results from diabetic test strips or pregnancy tests,” said Joe LaRocca, NRF senior asset protection adviser.

The NRF provided the below list of health and beauty products that have been identified by organized retail crime investigators from a variety of the nation’s retailers as being the most popular for criminals to steal and sell.

•    Abreva
•    Advil
•    Aleve
•    Alli weight loss pills
•    Benadryl
•    Braun toothbrushes & replacement heads
•    Bumble and Bumble
•    Claritin
•    Cover Girl cosmetics
•    Crest Whitestrips
•    diabetic testing strips
•    e.p.t. pregnancy tests
•    Gillette Fusion Razors and replacement cartridges
•    Gillette MACH3, Venus and Sensor razors and refill cartridges
•    Lotrimin
•    Matrix
•    Nicorette
•    Oil of Olay
•    Oral B replacement heads
•    Pepcid AC
•    Prilosec
•    Primatene
•    Pureology
•    RoC
•    Rogaine
•    Similac
•    Sudafed
•    Schick Quattro razors and all Schick refill cartridges
•    Sonicare replacement heads
•    Tylenol Extra Strength
•    Visine
•    Zantac

$40 million Powerball ticket sold in Teaneck, New Jersey Lottery reports

Posted by Reblog: Lehigh Valley News.

The cash value is $26.8 million, New Jersey Lottery says.

Powerball Lottery Reaches Third Highest JackpotA Powerball ticket — not this one — sold in New Jersey hit Wednesday night for $40 million.

The $40 million winning Powerball ticket for Wednesday night’s drawing was sold at a Bergen County business, the New Jersey Lottery reports.

The ticket with the numbers 07, 19, 23, 50 and 54 with a Powerball of 14 was sold at Rocklins Stationers in Teaneck, the lottery said.

The cash value is estimated at $26.8 million, the lottery said.

“This is an amazing win for New Jersey, the lucky ticket holders and the retailers,” New Jersey Lottery Executive Director Carole Hedinger said in a news release, which also said Montvale Snack Shop in Montvale, New Jersey, sold a $10,000 third prizewinning ticket.

“The revenue that was generated by the Powerball lottery sales preceding this win will help to support vital programs and institutions that serve our residents,” she added in the release.