- CP photo by Luke Thor Travis
- The Pirate Parrot at a Pittsburgh Pirates game at PNC Park this spring
The Pennsylvania Turnpike is $13 million in debt and has doubled the cost of tolls since 2008, but it isn’t cutting corners for a certain commissioner perk. The five members of the turnpike commission — the state secretary of transportation and four citizens appointed by the governor — are each entitled to a car funded by taxpayers. The state also pays for maintenance, even though the commission meets only once a month in Harrisburg. A WTAE crew caught commissioner Sean Logan in his state-funded Jeep Grand Cherokee (costing $43,205) on a lunch break from his job as director of the nonprofit Visit Monroeville. (That’s right; this job that includes a free car is part-time.) They asked him to explain. “I defend the policy because it’s 24-7, the commissioner’s job,” said Logan (even though he was on break from his other job). Two members of the commission opted not to take a car. (One of them, Secretary of Transportation Leslie Richards, gets another taxpayer-funded vehicle with her other job.)
The Allegheny County Sheriff’s office posted and then deleted a photo on Facebook showing a firearms license issued to the Pirate Parrot. The baseball mascot is a 36-year-old, 6-foot-7, 340-pound white man with green hair who’s carrying for “self-defense,” according to the license, which included a headshot of the bird. The mascot apparently made a paid appearance at Sherriff William P. Mullen’s birthday party — which also included a real penguin from the National Aviary — and the performer played along when officers photographed him, reports the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Mullen said he didn’t know about the photo until it was posted, adding, “Gun licenses are not something to joke about.” Side note: Why is the county sheriff celebrating his birthday like a 9-year-old with rich parents?
One-time dental-office assistant Gina L. Stahlnecker has been charged with embezzlement for allegedly stealing the payment her office received from a scrap-metal dealer for gold and silver left over from fillings and bridges. Stahlnecker, 48, worked at Fields Family Dentistry in Cumberland. Dr. Charles Fields used the side income from selling leftover precious metals for gifts and dinners for employees. Reportedly, Stahlnecker told Fields she’d dispersed the money to other employees, but kept $2,400 of it, according to PennLive.com. During their divorce, her husband apparently threatened to out her, leading Stahlnecker to reportedly confess to her boss, who fired her and called police.
A 35-year-old woman crashed her car into a median divider in Moon Township. She then entered a stranger’s car and demanded he drive her somewhere. When he refused and police showed up, she reportedly ran and jumped into the Ohio River. She swam for 40 minutes before the crew of a tugboat rescued her. Deckhand Jonathon Murphy told KDKA, “I was in that bad boy” — presumably meaning the river. “She fought me like no other.” To further add to the calamity, a police SUV got stuck on train tracks during the incident, halting rail traffic for two hours. The woman was hospitalized.
A fan who just wanted a ride home from the Penn State-Iowa game, in State College, wound up in an Uber ride from hell, with her driver dragging a cop 20 feet, according to an arrest report. Frederick Becker, a driver for the ride-sharing service, reportedly ignored traffic police’s instructions, winding up against the flow of traffic with a passenger in the back. When an officer reached in to turn off his ignition, Becker, 41, allegedly floored it, dragging the cop as two others darted out of his way, reports the Centre Daily Times. He faces charges that include aggravated assault and reckless endangerment.
An accused teenage drug dealer from Reynoldsville allegedly tried to pass off rock salt as crystal meth. The Courier Express of Dubois reports that the Jefferson County Drug Task Force used a confidential informant to buy what 18-year-old Tyler A. Fox purportedly said was meth. After the buy, investigators say, they found the substance was the common road-deicing agent.
Dennis Rodgers Jr. was arrested on charges of stealing stuff from cars in Erie. TV station WFXP reports that among 29-year-old Rodgers’ alleged hauls were BB guns, a laptop and a collection of Magic: The Gathering playing cards worth an astonishing $10,000.