TRI COUNTY REPORT FOR MARCH 29TH, 2021

A Mercer County roofing company owner is free on bond after pleading guilty Friday to charges of federal tax evasion.  IRS investigators have said that Dustin Golub failed to report nearly three-point-eight-million dollars in receipts from his business between 2016 and 2018, and instead deposited the money into nine personal bank accounts.  Golub faces a maximum of five years in prison.

Two New Castle men were arrested on drug charges last week following a traffic stop. 49 year old Eric Purnell of Falls Street and 44 year old Patrick Hicks of Park Avenue, were charged with three counts of possession with the intent to deliver a controlled substance. According to the department’s Facebook page, the traffic stop was the result of a narcotics investigation being jointly conducted by the New Castle City Police Department, the Lawrence County District Attorneys Special Investigative Unit and the PA Office of Attorney General. Both men were placed in the Lawrence County Jail on bond.

The University of Pittsburgh is responding this week to a recent COVID outbreak on campus.  According to the school’s COVID Medical Response Office, 42 students have tested positive within the last week and 71 are now isolated.  Administrators are sending out word that a university-wide shelter-in-place period will begin on April 16th.  Students will be permitted to attend in-person classes and leave for essentials, but all other activities and all large gatherings should be restricted.

In Allegheny County, questions remain today about how a five-year-old got a hold of a gun and accidentally shot their three-year-old sister to death.  Braya Sanders was killed Friday night at the Cambridge Square Apartments in Monroeville.  Police have said that the gun was legally owned by one of the parents, and that individual is cooperating with authorities.  The little girl’s death has been ruled a homicide.

Pennie, the Pennsylvania Individual Exchange, set up a special enrollment period for those who have experienced a loss of employer-provided health insurance coverage as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. The enrollment deadline has now been extended to August 15th. Those enrolled will also be eligible for savings under the American Rescue Plan recently signed by President Joe Biden. Under the plan, Pennie recipients will pay no more than 8.5 percent of their income for heath insurance for the next 2 years. More information on the changes is available at pennie.com.

COVID-19 cases are continuing to rise throughout the state. Health officials only added more than 49-hundred new cases over the weekend as they reported technical problems with their case counting system, but they will release updated numbers today. The state’s total case count sits at one-million-five-thousand-167. About 36 new deaths related to the virus were added to the death toll, which is at 24-thousand-953. In Lawrence County, there are 6,506 cases and 194 deaths. Mercer County has 8,471 cases and 247 deaths

According to Pennsylvania’s department of Labor and Industry the unemployment rate for February was 7.3%, the same as January. That was more than a whole point above the national rate of 6.2% in February. The Commonwealth has regained about 60% of the 1.1 million jobs lost in the pandemic. It hit a record high for payrolls of 6.1 million last February.

State agencies and hundreds of first responders are raising awareness about the state’s changes to the Move Over Law. Officials say hundreds of first responders have been killed in the state while providing roadside assistance. Under the changes to the Move Over Law, drivers who do not move over or slow down when approaching a traffic stop or disabled vehicle on the side of the road will face increased penalties and fines. These changes will take effect on April 27th.