Pozonsky Returns To Face Charges
A former Washington County Judge is facing criminal charges. Paul Pozonsky is being accused of stealing cocaine that had been siezed as evidence in drug cases. Pozonsky resigned from the bench last year and moved to Alaska and was back in Washington Thursday to appear for a preliminary arraignment before District Judge Robert Redlinger. The charges are being filed by the Pennsylvania Attorney General's office, following a grand jury investigation. Prosecutors say that starting in March of 2011, Pozonsky instructed police to bring drug evidence to his courtroom so he could keep it.
Last may -- following an order by President Judge Debbie O'dell Seneca -- state police investigators examined evidence envelopes and found that cocaine was either missing or had been tampered with. Pozonsky is also accused of destroying drug evidence. Around the time those allegations surfaced last year, Judge O'Dell Seneca stripped Pozonsky of the authority to hear criminal cases, and she removed him as the presiding judge in Treatment Court for nonviolent drug offenders.
The list of charges against Pozonsky include theft, drug possession, and obstructing justice, in addition to being accused of violating the Public Official and Employee Ethics Act. Following Thursday's proceeding, Judge Redlinger recused himself from the case, leaving the date of Pozonsky's preliminary hearing in question. Pozonsky's bond was set at $25,000, and he will be free to return to Alaska. Judge O'Dell Seneca says Pozonsky's case will not be heard by any Washington County Judges or District Judges, telling WJPA that she will ask the Adminstrative Office of Pennsylvania Courts to appoint a judge to handle the case.
No Injuries After Bridge Collapses
MOUNT VERNON, Wash. (AP) - The Washington State Patrol chief says the Interstate 5 bridge collapse into the Skagit River at Mount Vernon was caused by an oversize truck.
Chief John Batiste told an overnight news conference that the truck hit an overhead span. The truck made it off the bridge and the driver remained at the scene and cooperated with investigators.
Two other vehicles went into the water Thursday evening as the bridge collapsed. Three people were rescued and are recovering.
Officials said drivers should expect delays at the break in the major north-south highway about 60 miles north of Seattle. Detours have been set up to try to ease the congestion.
Gay Scouts Allowed
GRAPEVINE, Texas (AP) - The Boy Scouts of America has decided to allow openly gay Scouts but not gay Scout leaders. Sixty-one percent of the BSA's National Council who cast ballots supported the controversial proposal drafted by the governing Executive Committee. Some warn the compromise could fracture the organization and lead to mass defections.
Mistrial For Arias Sentencing
PHOENIX (AP) - A judge in Phoenix has scheduled a retrial in the penalty phase of Jodi Arias' murder case. Jurors who convicted Arias of stabbing, slashing and shooting boyfriend Travis Alexander couldn't agree on whether the 32-year-old woman should be given the death penalty or life in prison. The judge on Thursday declared a mistrial in the penalty phase.
Fayette County commissioners have voted to cease operations of the historic Fredericktown Ferry in September. The Thursday morning vote was unanimous. The commissioners say the costs of operating the ferry exceed the money it brings in. The boat trip across the Monongahela connects Fredericktown and LaBelle. It's joinly operated by Fayette and Washington County. The Washington County commissioners indicated last week they would wait until their counterparts in Fayette County took action.
Explosion At Steel Plant In Coatesville
COATESVILLE, Pa. (AP) - An apparent explosion at a steel plant in eastern Pennsylvania has left three people injured. It happened around 10 last night at the Arcelor-Mittal plant in Coatesville, about 40 miles west of Philadelphia. Investigators say a bucket containing molten steel apparently exploded, injuring the three workers. Authorities are still trying to determine exactly what happened.
Casino Will Open In July
FARMINGTON, Pa. (AP) - Pennsylvania's newest casino will open to gamblers in just over a month.
Officials announced Thursday that the $60 million Lady Luck Casino outside Pittsburgh will open on July 1 at noon, pending regulatory approvals.
Lady Luck Casino is part of the Nemacolin Woodlands Resort in Fayette County. It will feature 600 slot machines, 28 table games, a restaurant and a lounge.
Earlier this week, the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board approved a plan to charge non-resort guests a $10 entry fee to the casino.
Nemacolin is one of two facilities in the state with a resort casino license. Those casinos are meant to be an amenity to a resort and not a draw unto themselves.
Lady Luck is operated by St. Louis-based Isle of Capri Casinos Inc.
New Education Secretary
HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) - Gov. Tom Corbett has nominated William Harner to be Pennsylvania's next education secretary.
The posting of Harner's nomination, announced Thursday sets the stage for a Senate confirmation hearing and vote.
The Republican governor had announced last week that Harner, superintendent of Cumberland Valley School District in Mechanicsburg, is his choice to succeed Ron Tomalis as secretary.
Tomalis is moving into an advisory role in the administration.
Harner is a graduate of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. He holds a doctorate in educational leadership and two master's degrees. He is slated to take over as acting secretary on June 3.
The Department of Education oversees more than $14 billion in state and federal money for Pennsylvania's public schools, charter schools, libraries, universities and colleges.
Arrests In London Stabbing
LONDON (AP) - British police say two more people are in custody after Wednesday's brutal slaying of a soldier in London. Scotland Yard says counterterrorism officers arrested a man and a woman on Thursday on suspicion of conspiracy to murder in the suspected terrorist attack. Two male suspects shot and arrested by police at the scene remain hospitalized in stable condition.
WASHINGTON (AP) - Lois Lerner is out as director of the IRS division that oversaw agents who targeted tea party groups. Danny Werfel, the agency's new acting commissioner, made the move a day after she refused to answer questions at a congressional hearing. Werfel says he's selected Ken Corbin to be a new acting head of the exempt organizations division.
Benefit Concert In Oklahoma City
UNDATED (AP) - Blake Shelton has set a date and location for his benefit concert and fellow Oklahoman Carrie Underwood is writing a large check to help those affected by this week's tornado in their home state. Shelton's "Healing in the Heartland" concert is set for May 29 in Oklahoma City and will be televised live on NBC. Underwood, meanwhile, is donating $1 million in proceeds from her recent Blown Away Tour to the Red Cross.
More Information About Meat
MILWAUKEE (AP) - Consumers will soon see labels on their meat telling them where the animal was born, raised and slaughtered. The U.S. Department of Agriculture has required country of origin labels on seafood since 2005, and meat and other products since 2009. But the rules that went into effect for meat on Thursday provide more detailed information.