Investigation continues into bicyclist/tractor trailer incident in Upper Burrell

© Image Copyright AKVNEWS/Paul R. Lowes/Editor/Staff Photographer 3:47 pm

Upper Burrell, Pa. – Upper Burrell Police Chief Kenneth Pate said early Monday morning the investigation into the bicycle/tractor-trailer fatality incident that took place on SR 780 in Upper Burrell is still in its early stages as authorities are conducting witness information and processing additional data through the Westmoreland County District Attorney’s Office.

Westmoreland County Coroner, Kenneth A. Bacha, recently released preliminary information related to the victim of the incident. Mark S. Popovich, age 56 of Fayette Street in Lower Burrell was the operator of a bicycle traveling west on State Route 780 and a tractor trailer also traveling west attempted to pass the bicycle. For an unknown reason the decedent was separated from the bicycle and struck by the tractor trailer. Deputy Coroner Sean R. Hribal investigated the incident and pronounced the decedent dead at the scene. Speed is not believed to have been a factor in the incident. The decedent was wearing a helmet at the time of the incident and cell phone use is not believed to have been a factor in the incident.

As the investigation continues, additional details related to engine management system data, reconstruction data, witness statements and toxicology results are all necessary information and standard procedure to gather all the facts before a determination can be made that could possibly result in charges being filed against the driver of the semi-truck.

Chief Pate said toxicology results will not be available for several weeks. AKVNEWS will continue to follow this story as more details become available.


Peace in her heart; The Kevin Croney Foundation award

Oliva Croney, Wyatt Irwin and Cheri Fye-Croney

Oliva Croney, Wyatt Irwin and Cheri Fye-Croney

© Image Copyright AKVNEWS/Paul R. Lowes/Editor/Staff Photographer 9:18 am

Alle-Kiski Valley, Pa. – Faced with tragedy in her own life, and the life of her children, Cheri Fye-Croney presented the “Kevin Croney Perseverance Award” at a Veteran’s Day Assembly on Friday, November 6, 2015 at the Kiski Area Upper Elementary School.

On March 13, 2015, Kevin Croney, age 44, was shot and killed at his place of business in New Kensington after an argument took place inside that business. The alleged gunman remains incarcerated in the Westmoreland County Jail.

The “Kevin Croney Perseverance Award”, is the first of awards presented to Wyatt Irwin; a young man from Kiski Area High School who has also chosen to thrive amidst a life of challenge. The scholarship award goes to individuals who have faced tremendous challenges in their lives and encourages them to persevere through life’s most difficult situations.

For Cheri Fye-Croney, Friday was a bittersweet day as she honored her husband’s wishes to do something at the Veterans Day assembly. Kevin’s father was a military veteran who was shot during active duty, then suffered debilitating injuries from a car accident in Michigan. Kevin wanted to do something to honor the veterans, said Cheri. This award honors Kevin’s wishes.

For the first time since the passing of her husband, a little bit of peace was felt in her heart as she spoke about overcoming obstacles and perseverance, realizing that the words she speaks are the words she lives by not only for herself, but her three amazing children. Croney said a piece of her said goodbye to being a wife and accepted the role as a survivor, a widow, and a cause. “Sometimes we have to let go of what we once dreamed to make room for what will actually be. Grief is not a place to stay, but merely a step in the healing process and yesterday I made a huge step in the direction I want to continue in.”

It only takes a few minutes of talking to Cheri, to feel the strength and determination she possesses to erase the stains of violence. Cheri said she wished that she could have been this determined and motivated to help others less fortunate in life before the tragedy struck. One day we were doing our thing, running a business, kids, living a decent life and then all of a sudden my world was falling apart. Her message today is one of “perseverance” in the face of adversity.

I just want to thank everybody who has made this foundation a reality and every donation given has been greatly appreciated. Recently on Facebook, Cheri’s words rang out in testiment of the following: I walked out of Allegheny General Hospital almost 8 months ago with a promise to myself to not let the violence that took Kevin away from us destroy me or this family. Days like tomorrow (Veteran’s Day Assembly), inspire me to keep moving in the direction I have chosen to walk all these months. To honor a man instead of grieve him … To remember a father instead of mourn him… To show three children what “Perseverance” truly is. For myself along with my three children, my gratitude for all of you that have chosen to join us on this journey can never be put into words. So to all of you …..thank you❤❤ from the bottom of my heart, Cheri-Fye Croney.

Veteran's Day Assembly held on November 6, 2015 at Kiski Area Upper Elementary

Veteran’s Day Assembly held on November 6, 2015 at Kiski Area Upper Elementary


Apollo suspected child predator arrested for 2nd time this year

Joseph A. Sowers

Joseph A. Sowers

(AG Photo)

HARRISBURG — An Apollo man has been charged with possessing child pornography for the second time in nine months following an investigation by the Office of Attorney General’s Child Predator Section.

Attorney General Kathleen G. Kane recently announced the arrest of Joseph A. Sowers, 32, 1156 Martin Road, Apollo, Armstrong County.

Sowers was apprehended after an undercover online investigation led to an IP address associated with Sowers’ smart phone. On Friday, agents with the Office of Attorney General’s Child Predator Section and the Kiskiminetas Township Police Department executed a traffic stop on Sowers’ vehicle.

During the traffic stop, investigators seized multiple electronic devices and reported finding Sowers in possession of a smart phone that contained child pornography. The devices will be further analyzed by the Office of Attorney General’s Computer Forensics Unit as part of an ongoing investigation.

Sowers also was arrested Jan. 29 in Montgomery County by the Child Predator Section. In that case, agents reported that a computer in Sowers’ possession was found to contain child pornography. The conditions of his bail stated that he was prohibited from accessing the Internet and viewing such images.

Sowers’ recent arrest resulted in the following charges: three counts of distribution of child pornography, 24 counts of possession of child pornography and one count of criminal use of a communication facility.

Sowers is being held in the Armstrong County Prison after failing to post $100,000 bail. A preliminary hearing is tentatively scheduled for Nov. 12.

Attorney General Kane thanked the Kiskiminetas Township Police Department for assisting with Sowers’ arrest. She also thanked investigators with the Pinal County Sheriff’s Office in Arizona. The office was responsible for initiating the arrest that led to Sowers being charged for a second time.

Sowers will be prosecuted by Deputy Attorney General Jessel A. Costa III of the Office of Attorney General’s Child Predator Section. He pleaded guilty to charges that stemmed from the January investigation and is awaiting sentencing in that case.

Reporting Child Predators

Suspected child predators can be reported to the Office of Attorney General by calling the Child Predator Hotline at 1-800-385-1044. Individuals who suspect an online predator or child sexual abuse can also send an anonymous tip to the office by texting PAKIDS + YOUR TIP to 847411.


Victim of overnight shooting identified

© Image Copyright AKVNEWS/Paul R. Lowes/Editor/Staff Photographer 9:59 am

New Kensington, Pa. – A man shot and killed early Friday morning outside a New Kensington gas station has been identified by the Allegheny County Medical Examiner’s Office as Anthony Ritchie, age 24 of Vandergrift. An autopsy will be performed later Friday.

New Kensington Police said in a press release city detectives along with the Westmoreland County Detectives are working on the case and checking leads. Currently, there is no motive for the homicide. Police also report the victim was transported to the Allegheny Valley Hospital after last nights shooting where he was pronounced dead.

New Kensington Police are asking anyone with information on this incident to contact police at (724)339-7533 or dial 911.


Man dies after shooting along 7th Street in New Kensington

© Image Copyright AKVNEWS/Paul R. Lowes/Editor/Staff Photographer 3:22 am

New Kensington, Pa. – (BREAKING NEWS)..UPDATE @ 5:03 am  Police in New Kensington have confirmed a deadly shooting took place near the Fueland on 7th Street. The victim is a male and reportedly to be in his 20’s.  More details later.

(Original Story) A man is shot and quickly transported to the hospital after a reported shooting near the Fueland along 7th Street and Linden Avenue just before 2:00 am Friday morning.

New Kensington Police and Westmoreland County detectives are at the scene investigating the incident. 7th Street Road is blocked to through traffic as police were seen talking to residents in the area. One woman said she heard 4-5 shots and called 911. As of 3:28 am, no information was available on the condition of the victim or the whereabouts of the shooter.

AKVNEWS will update this story as more details become available.

© Image Copyright AKVNEWS/Paul R. Lowes/Editor/Staff Photographer


Westmoreland County Coroner called to incident on Rt. 780 Upper Burrell

© Image Copyright AKVNEWS/Paul R. Lowes/Editor/Staff Photographer 2:37 pm

Upper Burrell, Pa – (UPDATE @ 4:44 pm).  The Westmoreland County Coroner’s Office has identified the victim of the bicycle/tractor-trailer crash along SR 780 in Upper Burrell Township as Mark S. Popovich, age 56 of New Kensington.  An autopsy will be performed on Friday, November 5, 2015.  Popovich died at the scene after a collision with a tractor-trailer headed Westbound on SR 780 just before noon Thursday.

(Original Story)Police in Upper Burrell including firefighters from Upper Burrell and Lower Burrrell are on scene of a fatal bicycle incident along State Route 780 near the Penn State Campus.

The Westmoreland County Coroner has been called to the scene. State Route 780 is expected to be closed for several hours. Firefighters are directing traffic around the scene of a crash that involves a bicyclist and a tractor trailer. The incident occurred 15 minutes before noon about 1/4 mile West of the lower lot entrance and parking lot to the Penn State campus.

© Image Copyright AKVNEWS/Paul R. Lowes/Editor/Staff Photographer

Upper Burrell’s Police Chief Ken Pate said the victim’s name has not been released yet. Chief Pate said the man is believed to from the local area and is possibly in his 50s. Based on interviews with the truck driver and other witnesses, police said it appears that the driver was trying to pass the bicyclist while allowing enough space, and the bicyclist lost control on loose gravel and fell into the truck’s path.

The cause of the crash remains under investigation. Police said the driver was taken to the hospital for a blood sample, which is standard protocol.


Pennsylvania to receive $1.1 million in settlements with AstraZeneca and Cephalon


HARRISBURG — Attorney General Kathleen G. Kane today announced Pennsylvania has joined with other states and the federal government to settle allegations that AstraZeneca Pharmaceuticals, LP and Cephalon, Inc. overcharged the state Medicaid programs for drugs.

As part of the settlements, Pennsylvania will receive approximately $1.1 million in restitution and other recovery. The money will be directed to the state’s Department of Human Services, which administers the joint state/federal Medical Assistance program, also known as Medicaid.

AstraZeneca, a London and Delaware-based pharmaceutical manufacturer, has paid the states and the federal government a total of $46.5 million to resolve allegations against the company. Cephalon, a Pennsylvania-based subsidiary of Teva Pharmaceuticals Industries, Ltd., has paid the states and the federal government $7.5 million to settle similar allegations.

These settlements resolve allegations that AstraZeneca and Cephalon underpaid drug rebates owed to the states. Under a federal law known as the Medicaid Drug Rebate Program, drug manufacturers must periodically return a portion of the amount paid by state Medicaid programs for the manufacturers’ drugs.

The rebate program is designed to ensure that states pay competitive prices for drugs, and the rebates for a manufacturer’s drugs are calculated based on a percentage of the average prices drug wholesalers pay for each of the drugs. This average price, which the manufacturer reports to the federal government, is known as the Average Manufacturer’s Price, or “AMP.” The greater the AMP reported by the manufacturer, the greater the rebate the manufacturer must pay for that drug.

A whistleblower’s complaint alleged that AstraZeneca and Cephalon improperly treated certain fees paid to wholesalers as “discounts,” and that the effect of this accounting practice was to falsely decrease the AMP the companies reported to the federal government, improperly decreasing the rebates paid to the states.

The investigation resulted from a qui tam action filed in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania under the federal False Claims Act and various state false claims statutes.

A National Association of Medicaid Fraud Control Units (NAMFCU) team participated in the investigation and conducted the settlement negotiations with AstraZeneca and Cephalon on behalf of the states. The team included representatives from the Offices of the Attorneys General for the states of Colorado, Massachusetts, Nevada, New York and South Carolina.


Lower Burrell residential street crash sends female to hospital

© Image Copyright AKVNEWS/Paul R. Lowes/Editor/Staff Photographer 7:09 pm

Lower Burrell, Pa. – Two females were involved in a motor vehicle crash along the 2600 block of Paige Street in Lower Burrell about 1:30 pm Wednesday afternoon.

The incident occurred as the driver of a Chevrolet Classic and the driver of a Honda collided resulting in damages to both vehicles. The driver of the Chevrolet was helped from her vehicle, neck collared and placed on a stretcher for transport by Lower Burrell EMS to a local hospital.

The driver of the Honda was evaluated at the scene but not transported. Assisting Lower Burrell Police were Station #69 firefighters who contained fluids on the roadway and a second EMS unit was also on scene for possible transport. Salem Auto Body towed the vehicles from the crash scene.

© Image Copyright AKVNEWS/Paul R. Lowes/Editor/Staff Photographer


DEA Releases 2015 Drug Threat Assessment: Heroin and Painkiller Abuse Continue to Concern


WASHINGTON – DEA Acting Administrator Chuck Rosenberg today announced results from the 2015 National Drug Threat Assessment (NDTA), which finds that drug overdose deaths are the leading cause of injury death in the United States, ahead of motor vehicle deaths and firearms. In 2013, over 46,000 people in the United States died from drug overdose and more than half of those were caused by prescription painkillers and heroin. Mexican criminal groups remain most significant criminal threat to the United States

“Sadly this report confirms what we’ve known for some time: drug abuse is ending too many lives while destroying families and communities,” Acting Administrator Rosenberg said. “We must stop drug abuse before it begins by teaching young people at an even earlier age about its many dangers and horrors. Law enforcement must continue to have the tools it needs to attack criminal groups who facilitate drug addiction. More Americans need treatment options so they can move forward living drug-free lives. We cannot continue to accept these lives lost without serious future action.”

The 2015 NDTA also found that Mexican transnational criminal organizations are the biggest criminal threat to the United States, and are the primary suppliers of heroin, cocaine, methamphetamine, and marijuana. These groups are responsible for the extreme violence seen in Mexico, as they battle for turf and attack public officials and innocent civilians. Here in the U.S., affiliated and violent gangs are increasingly a threat to the safety and security of our communities. They profit by buying drugs from regional Mexican criminal affiliates and then supply American streets and communities with these dangerous Continue reading…


Roll-over crash injures pregnant passenger

© Image Copyright AKVNEWS/Paul R. Lowes/Editor/Staff Photographer 4:58 pm

New Kensington, Pa. – Law Enforcement Officers responded to a single vehicle crash on SR 56 Eastbound near Memorial Park just before 2:00 pm Tuesday afternoon.

At the crash scene, a pregnant female passenger from West Deer was being treated for head injuries by medics and subsequently transported to Allegheny General Hospital by New Kensington EMS. The male driver from Tarentum suffered a minor head injury after the vehicle ran up the steep embankment approximately 15-20 feet, rolled over and came to rest on its wheels at a 45 degree angle to the roadway. The vehicle, a 1964 Plymouth Fury was heavily damaged from the crash and is a total loss.

The driver said he was traveling in the Eastbound passing lane and was attempting to merge into the slow lane when another vehicle suddenly appeared in the right hand lane causing him to jerk the wheel hard and lose control. Long skid marks veering right were seen on the roadway approximately 100′ feet or more before the Plymouth entered the impact zone.

New Kensington Police investigating the roadway were piecing details of the incident together and could not immediately confirm if speed was a factor in the crash. The right hand lane leading up to the crash scene was closed off while the incident was active. Several motorists approaching the crash scene not paying attention, failed to slow down for lane restrictions and emergency lights causing concern for police, EMS and tow crews. The vehicle was towed from the scene by Hawk Towing of Arnold.

© Image Copyright AKVNEWS/Paul R. Lowes/Editor/Staff Photographer


Leader of prescription pill ring sentenced to 10 years in federal prison

Stock Image

Pittsburgh, Pa. – From the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Western District of Pennsylvania reports a man imprisoned in Michigan has been sentenced in federal court to 10 years’ imprisonment and three years’ supervised release, on his conviction of violating the federal narcotics laws, United States Attorney David J. Hickton announced today.

United States District Judge Nora Barry Fischer imposed the sentence on Telano White, 33, of Jackson, Michigan.

According to information presented to the court, Telano White was the leader of the Detroit to Pittsburgh oxycodone distribution network, even though he was incarcerated for nearly the entire period of the conspiracy. White’s wife, Brandy Bara White, received deliveries of oxycodone 30 mg. pills delivered by Tarrance Mays, Jr. and LaMont Whitfield, two Detroit residents who previously pleaded guilty for their roles in the conspiracy.

Prior to imposing sentence, Judge Fischer stated that White has admitted to being the leader of the oxycodone ring that brought large quantities of pills from Detroit to Pittsburgh. She said that it was an “affront to the justice system” that he orchestrated the criminal activity from jail.

Assistant United States Attorney Stephen R. Kaufman prosecuted this case on behalf of the government. U.S. Attorney Hickton commended the Drug Enforcement Administration, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Pennsylvania Attorney General’s Office, Pennsylvania State Police and the Pittsburgh Bureau of Police for the investigation leading to the successful prosecution of White.


Two Inmates Escape from Quehanna Boot Camp

Nicholas Guido

Nicholas Guido

Karthaus, PA – (UPDATE):  Escapees Guido and Maffei were apprehended by the Pennsylvania State Police Fugitive Task Force and Newport based state police near Harrisburg.  No further details on the apprehension are available at this time.  AKNVEWS will continue to follow this breaking story.

(Original Story) At approximately 12:50 p.m. on November 1, 2015, two inmates, each serving flat 24-month State Intermediate Punishment sentences, escaped from the Quehanna Boot Camp, located in Karthus, Clearfield County, Pa. They were observed getting into a black vehicle.

Individuals with information on the whereabouts of these two escapees should contact Pennsylvania State Police immediately. Do not approach the individuals.

The escapees are:

NICHOLAS GUIDO (Photo Above) 30 year-old white male, has a light complexion, brown hair, brown eyes. He is 5’,7” and weighs 185 pounds. He was sentenced in Allegheny County for burglary no person present. Tattoos include: PIERCED EARS 1 HOLE EACH; R/ARM CROSS WING TRIBAL; L/HAND SKELETON BONES; L/AR M 2 SKULLS BRICKS COFFIN SICKLE “PK” CLOWN; STOMACH “LAURA”

TRENT ROBER MAFFEI, (Photo Below) 20 year-old white male, has a light complexion, medium build, brown hair, brown eyes. He is 5’, 9” and weighs 160 pounds. He was sentenced in Juniata County for possession with intent to deliver. TATTOOS: R HAND: “KING” WITH CROWN; R ARM: NUMEROUS SKULLS, L ARM: “MOM OVER MATTER”; STOMACH: INDIAN; NECK: SKULL. SCAR OVER L EYE.

Officials have sounded the escape siren and have sent a message via AlertPA to registered individuals. The facility is currently locked down while officials conduct an investigation.

Trent Robert Maffei

Trent Robert Maffei