Tri County Report For June 7th, 2018

Aliquippa’s police chief is on administrative leave.  Chief Donald Couch was placed on paid leave last night.  What led to Couch being placed on leave is not yet known.  The department is currently investigating the high-profile murder case of Aliquippa teacher Rachael DelTondo.

A Chippewa Township officer accused of harassment charges has resigned.  Johnathan Lutton made the decision after being accused of harassing a female co-worker at the police department from last year until this past March.  He’s also accused of sending a number of vulgar and lewd text messages to the victim.

A Sharon firefighter was injured early Wednesday morning in a blaze that was ruled an arson. According to the Sharon Herald the fire broke out at a home on Malleable Street just after midnight.  When firemen arrived the house was fully engulfed in flames. It took firefighters about 30 minutes to get the fire under control. No one was home at the time of the fire. But a firefighter sustained  non-life threatening injuries while taking a hose into the house The injured fireman will be on modified duty for an undetermined period. The state fire Marshall has been called in to investigate the cause of the fire.

Federal charges are being filed in a human trafficking case involving an underage girl.  The indictment was filed Wednesday against Oscar Carter.  Cranberry Township police say they got a tip from the FBI back in March about a prostitution ring going on.  During a bust the underage victim allegedly told police she was taken from Akron, Ohio by Carter and brought to the area to conduct prostitution acts.  Carter is charged with trafficking individuals, meaning he allegedly benefited financially from recruiting and harboring at least one person for sexual acts.

A fourth person has been charged in connection with the murder of 19-year-old Zackary Cutshall. 20 year old Brittany Jewell, of Greenville, was charged with conspiracy for her role in Cutshall’s death. Cutshall was shot after a drug deal and robbery in rural Mercer County last year. WKBN-TV reports,   two other men, Jacob Barger and Dominic Heasley were originally charged with murder but those charged were dropped. They ended up pleading guilty to conspiracy and robbery charges in exchange for testimony against Seth Hamilton, who is scheduled to stand trial in September. Barger and Heasley will serve up to two years in jail.

A state House bill to overhaul the redistricting process is being considered. GOP House Majority Leader Dave Reed’s legislation would create a citizen’s panel at random, and it would operate much like a jury. Reed’s measure is before the Rules Committee, which he chairs, bypassing the normal channel of the State Government Committee. That committee’s chairman, Representative Daryl Metcalfe is opposed to reducing lawmakers’ role in redistricting. Supporters of changing the process have until July 6th to have a new process in place.

The newest graduation requirement in Pennsylvania could be making students take a citizenship test.  The House overwhelmingly passed the bill yesterday that requires the test to be taken once between grades seven and 12.  Governor Tom Wolf will now decide whether to sign or veto the bill that doesn’t require students to pass the exam.

Pittsburgh -based U.S. Steel now has plans in the works to restart the second of two blast furnaces at its production plant in Granite City, Illinois.  Company officials say the furnace should be back up and running at the start of October, adding three-hundred new jobs to the facility.  This comes after U.S. Steel reopened the plant in March, shortly after President Trump announced new tariffs on foreign steel and aluminum.  That move allowed the company to hire five-hundred employees.

State Police in Butler County report a Pittsburgh man faces charges following a one vehicle accident in Brady Township. According to police, 58 year old Clarke Okinski was traveling west along Staff Road when his vehicle left the roadway and struck a ditch causing damage to the property. Police said Okinski fled the scene of the accident and was later apprehended. Okinski will be charged with driving under the influence. No injuries were reported.

A man wanted on over 150 counts of rape in Kansas is in custody after being located in Western Pennsylvania.  McKeesport Police and detectives from Abilene Kansas arrested 44-year-old Eric Millsap late last week.  He is accused of committing sex crimes.  His wife says they moved to McKeesport two years ago because she is from there.