Monday, September 10, 2012

Morning briefing: Ushers stop purse-snatching in Pittsburgh church - The Tribune-Democrat

PITTSBURGH â€" A man who claims to be a heroin addict has been jailed on charges he snatched a woman’s purse while she was taking communion during Mass at a Pittsburgh church.

Pittsburgh police say parishioners, including the off-duty chief of the Port Authority of Allegheny County police, tackled 31-year-old Eric Csurilla (soo-RIL’-uh) on Sunday morning and held him until officers arrived.

The Rev. John Dinello, pastor of the Most Holy Name of Jesus Parish, says parishioners were told to be alert because of similar thefts in the city’s Troy Hill neighborhood.

Police say Csurilla grabbed a small black change purse and covered it with a church bulletin about 10 a.m. Sunday but couldn’t get away before he was tackled by the parishioners, including transit police chief Steve McCauley.

Online court records don’t list an attorney for Csurilla.

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Ex-Pittsburgh firefighter sentenced for drug money

PITTSBURGH â€" A former Pittsburgh firefighter will spend the first six months of his three years’ probation on home detention for laundering his son’s drug money.

Fifty-three-year-old James Green Sr. pleaded guilty in May and was sentenced Friday in the same investigation that saw his son, 29-year-old James Jr. receive more than 10 years in federal prison in August.

Federal prosecutors say the elder Green laundered up to $30,000 for agreeing to let his son pay cash for rent, utilities and car payments even though the elder Green knew the money came from drug sales.

The since-retired firefighter told authorities he knew the money came from drugs, but believed it was from marijuana sales not heroin.

Green is also paying a $7,500 fine and forfeiting a 2007 Chevy Tahoe that he let his son use for his drug business.

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W. Pa. officer’s leg broken when suspect rams car

ALIQUIPPA â€" Western Pennsylvania police were searching for a driver who rammed a police cruiser, breaking an officer’s leg, while fleeing from an early morning traffic stop.

Aliquippa police Chief Andre Davis says one of his officers was hurt after the driver sped away from police who tried to stop him in neighboring Center Township. Both communities are in Beaver County, about 20 miles northwest of Pittsburgh.

Center police say the driver refused to pull over after an officer spotted an alleged traffic violation early Monday. The suspect allegedly rammed a car driven by an officer from nearby Hopewell Township, too, before crashing head-on into the Aliquippa officer’s vehicle.

Police say the Aliquippa officer was not involved in the chase when the crash occurred near Interstate 376. The officer isn’t being identified.

Police say the unknown suspect ran away.

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Horse, goat spray-painted at northwestern Pa. farm

COCHRANTON â€" Two farm animals have been found spray-painted on a northwestern Pennsylvania farm not far from where a horse was doused with a flammable liquid and set on fire last month.

Fairfield Township farmer Tim Schlabach says he found his 10-year-old mare, Lily, covered with fluorescent yellow, orange and green paint early Saturday on his spread about 75 miles north of Pittsburgh. Later, the farmer found a male goat, Josh, with green and yellow paint on its face.

State police from Meadville say some road signs and mail boxes along nearby Route 285 were covered with similar spray paint.

Troopers from the Corry barracks are continuing to investigate an incident at another farm in Crawford County, where a horse suffered superficial burns after it was doused with a flammable liquid and set afire sometime Aug. 25 or 26.

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