An investigation by PennLive.com found that Pennsylvania is sitting on $3.1 billion worth of its residents’ money and other items while earning interest off it. The Disposition of Unclaimed and Abandoned Property Law requires banks, companies and executors of estates to turn over both money and material items whose rightful owner cannot be found to the Treasury Department. The state quietly shortened the dormancy period by which unclaimed property must be forked over, from seven years to five in 2002 and from five to three in 2014, each time creating a surge of income. (The state received more than $650 million of assets under the law in financial year 2014-2015, up from about $250 million the previous year.) The treasury adds money from lost paychecks, abandoned bank accounts, utility refunds and unclaimed stocks and bonds to a general investment pool. It stores material items in vaults beneath the treasury complex in Harrisburg and, after three years, sells them at auction. Jewelry, military metals, antique guns, historical documents and sports memorabilia have all passed through. At one point, the treasury held $1.4 million in Smithfield Foods stock, which a man left in his will to a brother who couldn’t immediately be found. Pennsylvanians can claim these assets at any time, and the treasury has a searchable database (in which the author of this column found an unclaimed paycheck from a summer job he held 11 years ago).
A self-appointed “sci-op” researcher was arrested for false impersonation in the course of what he described on his website as a “Social Experiment focused on the feasibility of an unknown person entering into a public hospital.” Somerset Hospital staffers reportedly found Todd Knisely, clad in a white lab coat, wandering the halls. Knisely, 37, allegedly approached a nurse, claimed to be a doctor and asked for directions to the hospital’s IT department. Staffers detained him, as police were called. “He told them he was doing a ‘sci-op’ experiment for an online blog or journal that he writes,” Somerset’s police chief told news station WJAC of Johnstown. In an interview, Knisely said he is the head of a group of hackers and became concerned about the hospital’s cyber and on-site security after a stay as a patient. He explained: “If I were a bad hacker — and I’m not; I’m a ‘white hat,’ — but if I were a bad hacker, I could go into the computer rooms, and now that makes everybody in this town susceptible to data breeches, and that's very private information.” Although it would seem the hospital successfully detected and repelled the unauthorized person, Knisely wrote on his website, shadowsgovernment.com, “My PSYOP/Social Experiment Revealed Startling Results” (capitalizations in original) and the “Complete Findings & Results” will be published soon.
The Allegheny Health Network has finally kicked all those little cartoon animals out of its hospitals. A spokesperson told the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review that the company behind the scavenger hunt game Pokémon Go “has complied with our request to remove our hospitals as gyms or ‘Pokestops.’” The game became wildly popular this summer, but some institutions have found the influx of players staring into their cell phones to view virtual creatures hazardous or in poor taste. A spokesperson for West Penn Power told the Trib that Pokémon have “appeared” at its power plants, and security has shooed away teenagers. Also, Squirrel Hill’s Jewish Community Center said in a Facebook post it was “looking into” removing the Pokéstop “at” its Holocaust Center.
The world’s worst youth counselor accidentally shot a 15-year-old boy at a Harrisburg program for troubled teens. The CEO of Alternative Rehabilitation Communities told PennLive.com that the counselor, who is also a minister, wasn’t trying to intimidate or control the child, but took out the gun to show it around when it went off. The counselor was licensed to carry, but violated the center’s no-firearms policy and has been fired. The boy is expected to fully recover.
A Hollidaysburg couple racked up a list of charges after police allegedly found them using a golf cart to travel to church donation bins and steal the contents, while the driver of the cart was drunk and a three-month-old infant was in the vehicle. According to WJAC, among the charges shared between Patrick Leonard and Tressa Fornari are DUI, reckless endangerment, receiving stolen property and numerous traffic violations.