Consumer Advisory: Attorney General Kane issues warning on medical identify theft

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HARRISBURG – Attorney General Kathleen G. Kane today warned consumers about medical identity theft, a dangerous type of fraud which has grown significantly over the past two years.

Medical identity theft occurs when someone falsely uses another individual’s name or health insurance information to receive medical care. This results in contamination of the medical record with erroneous information which could put the victim’s health at risk.

“Medical identity theft is one of the most intrusive and costly types of fraud,” Kane said. “Once you become a victim, it’s a painstaking process to unravel the incorrect bills and inaccurate medical records.”

Attorney General Kane encouraged consumers to watch for these warning signs of medical identity theft:

Receipt of collection information for a medical debt you do not owe.
Receipt of a bill or paperwork regarding a medical procedure you did not receive.
Denial of insurance coverage because of false information in your medical record.
Notification from your insurance company that you have reached your benefit limit.
Kane also urged Commonwealth residents to take proactive steps to prevent their personal and medical information with these strategies:

Keep copies of your medical and insurance information in a safe place.
Shred old health cards and medical paperwork.
Review your medical bills and paperwork carefully and verify that they correlate with the care you received.
Be cautious if you are offered “free” services in exchange for your health insurance information. Identity thieves often masquerade as employees for legitimate organizations such as insurance companies, doctor’s offices, or pharmaceutical companies.
Never share your personal medical or health insurance information with anyone unless you can verify their identity.
Consumers who suspect they may have been a victim of medical identity theft should contact the Office of Attorney General’s Health Care Section Helpline at (877) 888-4877.


Alle-Kiski Valley salutes servicemen and women who paid the ultimate price

© Hotshot Images by AKVNEWS/Paul R. Lowes/Staff Photographer 2:04 am

Alle-Kiski Valley, Pa. – At the Union Cemetery in Arnold, it’s easy to tell when Memorial Day is just around the corner. Veterans and family members are decorating the graves of fallen soldiers. The view at night is spectacular to see; with a mild breeze hundreds of flags wave in unison.

If you know a veteran, you know their passion for their loss of a schoolmate, a new friend they just met while going to war, or perhaps someone they never knew but heard their story of bravery and compassion for their fellow soldiers. Veterans never forget the more than one million men and women who gave their lives in service to this country.

Memorial Day in the Valley is a celebration and honor for those who gave all. Those who paid the ultimate price for the freedoms we enjoy are remembered with marching bands, parades with fire trucks, and the American Flag.

(In the photo below) Carl Baker, 1ST Vice Commander of Post 868 raises the flag in honor of fallen veterans. More than 100 people attended the ceremonies and enjoyed the parade on Leechburg Road in Lower Burrell. In other areas around the Valley, Memorial Day is celebrated with family and friends having barbecues, big get-togethers or watching the Indy 500.

Photo Courtesy Brian Barbieri

In New Kensington, a Memorial Day parade was sponsored by the Valley High School Band and the JROTC Boosters began at 10 am and ended at the Gold Star Mothers Memorial for an 11:00 am ceremony honoring the living and fallen veterans.

Sons of the American Legion Squadron 868 Commander Ralph Pitsch Jr. as he led the children of members pass out flags to salute the veterans.


Upper Burrell crash injures two drivers

© Hotshot Images by AKVNEWS/Paul R. Lowes/Staff Photographer 4:12 pm

Upper Burrell, Pa. – Two vehicles collide nearly head-on near Penn State University on SR 780 about 3:30 pm Tuesday afternoon.

Upper Burrell Police Chief Ken Pate said a silver four door vehicle with a female operator was headed Eastbound when it collided with a red pickup truck headed Westbound on the curve near the Penn State Campus. Damage to the front end of the silver four door vehicle was severe.

Rescue crews worked quickly to free Lauren Loughner of Avonmore, the female driver who was extricated in about 15 minutes. She was loaded onto a stretcher and it’s believed helicopter transport was on the ground when AKVNEWS.COM left the scene. It appeared she sustained eye injuries in the crash.

The driver of the red 4×4 1500 Dodge Ram is Chad Thomas Briggs of Arnold. He was trapped inside his vehicle and had to be extricated by rescue crews. Briggs was loaded onto a stretcher and placed into a Lower Burrell EMS unit.

Police say the cause of the crash was a result of distracted driving by Loughner. There were no other occupants in the vehicles.

Assisting Upper Burrell Police at the scene were A-K Pulsar, Station 54 Rescue, New Kensington Station 56-4 , Upper Burrell Rescue and Station 69 Lower Burrell.

© Hotshot Images by AKVNEWS/Paul R. Lowes/Staff Photographer


Firefighters rescue woman and dog from steep hillside in Harrison Hills Park

© Hotshot Images by AKVNEWS/Paul R. Lowes/Staff Photographer 3:39 pm

Harrison Township, Pa. – It’s what they do! It’s what they train for and they did it with a calm, skilled professional attitude! They are Volunteer firefighters responding to a call for help in Harrison Hills Park along the Rachel Carson Trail.

One woman and a dog are 30′ over a steep hillside. Tony Hernandez, age 32 from Braddock is out with his two dogs for a Memorial Day Weekend hike with Christen Zappala, age 30 of Mount Washington.

Hernandez explains Christens’s dog got loose from her near a steep hillside in an area of the park that’s easily accessible near the Nature Center or from the trail that begins at the lower outlook of the park. According to Hernandes, the dog went down over the hillside first and Zappala tried to get to the dog about 30′ from where the dog went in. Both Zappala and her dog were unable to get back off the extremely steep hillside and that’s when Hernandes called 911.

Rescue crews from Harrison Hills Volunteer Fire Department and Citizen’s Hose Fire Department arrived on scene. Most of the initial first responders had to hike almost a mile on the trail carrying rope and rescue gear to get to Zappala and her dog.

Volunteer firefighters put together a plan for rescue by utilizing ropes, knots, and carabiners. Anchor points were established, long ropes were strategically put in place, and plans are discussed on how this rescue will take place.

First over the 30′ cliff is Todd Allen, Citizens’ Hose Fire Captain. Allen’s job is to get to the victims and stabilize the risk of falling. It’s a dangerous task as Allen is lowered with confidence to get to the victims. 15 to 20 minutes into the rescue, crews were able to bring Zappala’s dog to safety. Crews then began the rescue of Zappala. Zappala was tied to the rescue lines and she basically walked her way sideways on the hillside and was pulled to safety. Citizen’s Hose Supervisor Jim Erb said Zappala held herself to a big boulder with her dog sandwiched in-between. Zappala was visibly upset and extremely thankful to all the firefighters for rescuing her and her dog. Hernandez said he’s not a stranger to the trail and has been hiking for about five years.

Assisting Citizen’s Hose and Harrison Hills Fire Department were Station 160 Frazer #2 Chief Dave Gould and Tommy Silliman on the ATV.

The HEROES in this incident are those men and women who put in countless hours of training for such a day like today! It was a calm, well executed rescue and it’s just one of the reasons these volunteers are worth their weight in GOLD!

As always, AKVNEWS.COM asks that you support your volunteer fire department by supporting their fundraisers and festivals. Stay tuned to AKVNEWS.COM/facebook for more images of today’s rescue!

© Hotshot Images by AKVNEWS/Paul R. Lowes/Staff Photographer

Tony Hernandez with his two dogs on Monday, May 25, 2015 in Harrison HIlls Park

Tony Hernandez with his two dogs on Monday, May 25, 2015 in Harrison HIlls Park

© Hotshot Images by AKVNEWS/Paul R. Lowes/Staff Photographer


Arnold Police make another drug arrest; seize stolen gun

gun and money

Arnold, Pa. – Police in Arnold make a vehicle stop on a driver that nets heroin, cash and a stolen gun Saturday afternoon at approximately 4:30 pm.

Arnold Law Enforcement Officer Wes Biricocchi initiated a traffic stop on Michael Lasko Jr, age 22 of 625 Catalpa Street in New Kensington after Police 911 advised Lasko was under suspension. The stop occurred after the Black Dodge Charger turned left onto Constitution Boulevard.

Officer Biricocchi followed the vehicle to await additional units from New Kensington to assist due to Lasko’s history. The vehicle was stopped at the corner of Walnut St. and Ridge Ave. As Lasko began to exit the vehicle, he was advised to stand against the car.

Lasko asked why he was being stopped, and was advised his license was suspended. Lasko then stated to Police “ you don’t know who I am”? Lasko was asked if he had anything on his person police should know about and Lasko stated he had a bag of K2 in his right pant pocket.

In his possession was a baggie of unknown multi colored pills later identified as ecstacy. Lasko was placed in handcuffs and advised he was under arrest for possession of a suspected controlled substance.

Located in Lasko’s left pocket was a baggie of suspected K2, which Lasko admitted to being K2. He was then asked if there was anything in the vehicle police should know about, and he stated he did not know because it was not his car.

Assisting New Kensington Officer Kevin Hess advised Officer Biricocchi there was a firearm under the front driver’s seat. With the vehicle’s driver door still closed, police were able to see in plain view a stainless steel pistol with black grip under the driver seat.

The firearm was a Star .40 cal. Firestar Semi auto pistol and was loaded with 5 FC .40 cal S&W hollow points in the magazine and 1 loaded in the firing chamber. Police later learned the firearm was entered stolen out of West Deer Police Dept. Allegheny County.

Lasko was then transported to the New Kensington Police Dept holding cells and was asked if he had anything else on his person, namely drugs or weapons. Lasko was advised if he entered lock up with any contraband there would be an additional charge.

Lasko was found to have a baggie containing 4 bundles of 40 stamp bags of suspected heroin marked “mojo” in red, 1 fold of 48 stamp bags of suspected heroin with no stamp and 1 fold of 47 stamp bags of suspected heroin with no stamp, totaling 135 stamp bags of suspected heroin.

Lasko had in his possession $192 in assorted bills and 3 cell phones. Lasko stated he had earlier taken multiple ecstasy pills and was evaluated by EMS then cleared him to remain in a holding cell.

Pennsylvania State Trooper C.Robbins of the Kittanning barracks arrived at the NKPD to do a full DRE evaluation on Lasko and transported for a Blood Draw by a certified phlebotomist to test for possible DUI-D. Lab results pending.


Vandergrift man dies in single vehicle crash

fatal crash

Armstrong County, Pa. – Armstrong County Coroner Brian K. Myers reports a single vehicle crash ¼ mile east of Polka Hollow on Rearick Rd. in Burrell Twp. Armstrong Co. This motor vehicle crash took the life of Joseph Andrew Batiz of Vandergrift, Pa.

Coroner Myers said Joseph Andrew Batiz, 26 of of Batiz Lane, Vandergrift was Traveling West on Rearick Rd. at approx. 6:15 PM when the 2004 Chery Silverado pickup he was driving failed to negotiate a curve, forcing the truck to go out of control and eventually overturning.

Batiz was pronounced dead at the scene by Deputy Coroner Robert Kepics. Cause of death was due to multiple blunt force injuries due to the Single Car accident. No autopsy will be performed and toxicology results are pending.

The investigation is ongoing by PSP – Kittanning. The coroner’s office was assisted at the scene by Burrell Twp. FD, Ford City FD, Bethel Twp. FD, Vandergrift Ambulance and Ford City Ambulance.


Alle-Kiski Valley (AKV) News Holiday

© Hotshot Images by AKVNEWS/Paul R. Lowes/Staff Photographer

Natrona Heights, Pa. – In weekend news around the Alle-Kiski Valley, a single vehcile crash into a wall at Allegheny Valley Hospital. It’s believed this incident involving a man is possibly due to a medical condition. There is no word on his condition.

Brackenridge, Pa. – A single vehicle crash in the 900 block of First Avenue involves a male in his 20’s. This incident is also due to a possible medical condition. (See photo below)

Penn Township, Pa. – A 23 year old man dies after a single vehicle accident involving a motorcycle.

Ryan M. Dillon, 23 y/o male from Alstan Court in Monroeville died from Multiple Blunt Force Injuries as reported by Westmoreland County Coroner, Kenneth A. Bacha.

Mr. Dillon was the lone occupant of a 1976 Harley Davidson traveling east on State Route 130 when for an unknown reason the decedent failed to negotiate a left curve and traveled off the south side of
the roadway. Dillon struck a dirt embankment and telephone pole, prior to becoming separated from the

Deputy Coroner John A. Ackerman pronounced the decedent dead at the scene. Speed is believed to have played a factor in the incident. A helmet was utilized by the decedent.

© Hotshot Images by AKVNEWS/Paul R. Lowes/Staff Photographer


Spring Sanity a blast at Highlands High School

© Hotshot Images by AKVNEWS/Paul R. Lowes/Staff Photographer 1:08 pm

Natrona Heights, Pa. – You had to be there to believe it! Athletic moves to catch or avoid flying dodge balls whipped at tremendous speeds. Friends against friends, enemies against friends, perhaps enemies against enemies, even students against teachers. The dodgeball games were fantastic with high speed hitting and lots of drama.

The Highlands High School and The National Honor Society students collected more than $4,000 for the Make-A-Wish Foundation in honor of Tyler Smith, a Highlands Class of 2003 graduate and Make-A-Wish recipient who passed away last year.

The Spring Sanity event is a school-wide event that brings all of the faculty and students together to raise funds for an annual goal set by NHS at the beginning of the school year. Last year, the event raised $2,800 for the Highlands Relay for Life.

Pictured below is Team Vicious & Delicious, the 2015 Gatorball Tournament winners!

© Hotshot Images by AKVNEWS/Paul R. Lowes/Staff Photographer


Leechburg Sunoco gas station robbed Thursday night

© Hotshot Images by AKVNEWS/Paul R. Lowes/Staff Photographer 4:29 pm

Leechburg, Pa. – Leechburg Police Chief Mike Diebold said the Leechburg Sunoco gas station was robbed Thursday night about 9:15 pm.

Chief Diebold is conducting interviews and is currently processing video surveillance information. Not much information is available as the only description to go on was a man dressed in all black. The gas station is located across the street from the police station on Market Street.

AKVNEWS.COM will update this story as more details become available.


Elderly man sustains injuries after crash and roll of his SUV

© Hotshot Images by AKVNEWS/Paul R. Lowes/Staff Photographer 12:57 pm

Allegheny Township, Pa. – A single vehicle crash in Allegheny Township sends one elderly man to the hospital with face, arm and hand injuries.

Police and fire responded to SR. 356 and SR. 56 intersection after a man possibly suffers a medical condition and hits a guiderail while traveling SR. 356 South at the First Commonwealth Banking driveway exit.

A Ford SUV driven by a man in his 70’s hit the guiderail on the right side of the road, crossed over the center-line and drove thru bushes next to the large First Commonwealth banking sign, nearly hitting the sign. The SUV traveled thru a long grassy area before striking a parked Volkswagon subsequently causing the front end to dig into the pavement forcing the vehicle to roll over two times.

The initial call was for a man who was pinned inside the vehicle. Fire crews extricated the operator and put him in a Lower Kiski EMS unit for transport to Forbes Regional Hospital. Fire crews were forced to block SR. 356 South until the scene could be cleared by Kochka & Son Towning of Vandergrift.

© Hotshot Images by AKVNEWS/Paul R. Lowes/Staff Photographer


DUI arrest suspect rearrested after refusing to leave State Police lobby – Click it or ticket campaign under way


East Deer Township, Pa. – Pennsylvania State Police Tpr. Karlo conducted an occupant protection click it or ticket checkpoint at Exit 13 off ramp of SR28 Northbound in East Deer Township that resulted in two actors facing charges for drugs and paraphernalia.

The two actors ages 25 and 19 from Pittsburgh had a small amount of marijuana and drug paraphernalia on their person while they were traveling through the checkpoint. This Act 64 incident occurred at 10:20 am Thursday, charges are pending.

In Springdale Township: Tpr. Kurtis Glasgow PSP Kittanning initiated a traffic stop at the Springdale Township Building parking lot on Wednesday morning at 9:30 am. Upon further investigation it was determined a 33-year-old male operator from Springdale showed signs of impairment and was found to possess suspected marijuana and related paraphernalia. The operator was taken to ACMH where he submitted to a blood draw. Charges pending lab results.

In Harmar Township: State Police Tpr. Daniel Beatty initiated a traffic stop and conducted an on scene investigation at SR 28 Northbound in Harmar Township. Following an investigation, Craig Campbell, age 22, of East Brady and Harry Snyder Jr., age 19 of Petrolia were found to be in possession of illegal narcotics and drug paraphernalia. Charges to be filed.

Kittanning: Tpr Kevin Goss reported an incident consisting of multiple charges after a Scottdale man refused to leave the State Police lobby in Kittanning. Joshua Hiben, age 24 of Scottdale was charged with Resisting Arrest, Disorderly Conduct, Criminal Mischief and Harassment after he refused to leave the lobby while being released to a sober ride.

Hiben became disorderly and resisted being placed back under arrest by State Police. During the course of his resistance, the wall in the lobby area was damaged. Hiben was then charged with the above charges and arraigned before MDJ Decomo and committed to the Armstrong County Jail in lieu of $3000 bond. Hiben was being released from a prior DUI arrest when the incident occurred.

PennDOT, state and local police are partnering for nationwide “Click It or Ticket” seat-belt enforcement that runs through June 7.

To kick off the enforcement, Pennsylvania is one of 16 states and Ontario, Canada, that will participate in a Border-to-Border seat-belt initiative tonight. The enforcement involves more than 500 state and municipal law enforcement agencies across the eastern seaboard, conducting increased enforcement at state borders to emphasize police focus on seat belt usage.
Throughout the Click It or Ticket mobilization, enforcement will focus largely on nighttime operations, using Traffic Enforcement Zones and roving patrols on roadways identified as having higher unbelted crash rates.

“Seat belts save thousands of lives every year, but far too many motorists are still driving unbuckled,” said PennDOT Secretary Leslie S. Richards. “PennDOT wants to make the roads as safe as possible, especially at night when crash risk increases. We urge the public to join us in this mission to decrease these crashes.”

According to PennDOT data, unrestrained fatalities dropped from 425 in 2013 to 383 in 2014. The statewide number of crashes in which people were not wearing seat belts also decreased to 13,627, compared to 14,436 in 2013.

“While the number of unbuckled fatalities has decreased from last year, there was still a significant number of heartbreaking cases reported,” said Acting State Police Commissioner Marcus L. Brown. “In so many of these instances, the victims may have survived if they had been properly restrained – seat belts are the most effective means of reducing fatalities or serious injury.”

Motorists are reminded that Pennsylvania’s primary seat-belt law requires drivers and passengers under 18 years old to buckle up, and children under the age of four must be properly restrained in an approved child safety seat. Children ages 4 to 8 must be restrained in an appropriate booster seat. In addition, children ages 8 to 18 must be must be in a seat belt when riding anywhere in the vehicle.

Also, drivers and front-seat passengers 18 years-old or older are required to buckle up. If motorists are stopped for a traffic violation and are not wearing their seat belt, they can receive a second ticket and second fine.

Funding for this enforcement effort comes from part of PennDOT’s statewide distribution of $1.7 million in federal funds from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.


Driver injured in Harrison Crash

© Hotshot Images by AKVNEWS/Paul R. Lowes/Staff Photographer 8:26 am

Harrison Township, Pa. – Citizens Hose EMS units and Harrison Township Police were dispatched about 3:35 pm to the busy intersection at the BP gas station Wednesday afternoon after a two vehicle crash at Alter Road and SR. 908 in Harrison Township.

According to Harrison Police, the crash occurred when a female driver in a Chevrolet Monte Carlo pulled out from Alter Road and struck an Eastbound Honda Accord. Police at the scene said the female driver was reported to be unresponsive after the crash, but when police arrived she was just coming around after the hard hit to both vehicles. The Monte Carlo came to a final rest headed westbound in the eastbound lane along the guide rails. The female driver of the Monte Carlo was transported to Allegheny Valley Hospital by Citizen’s Hose EMS while the driver of the Accord was not injured.

© Hotshot Images by AKVNEWS/Paul R. Lowes/Staff Photographer

Heavy traffic in the area coming off the Allegheny Valley Expressway and motorists traveling west on SR. 908 were slowed due to the crash. Police provided traffic control until the scene could be processed and both vehicle were removed by Terry’s Service of Brackenridge. Traffic resumed normal flow about 4:15 pm.