On Thursday, 3 Washington Township police officers took the stand in trial of fellow officer Joseph DiBuonaventura, providing a range of testimony about the phone call that resulted in events leading up to the arrest of Assemblyman Paul Moriarty in the year 2012.
After a morning full of testimony from Sgt. Martin Calvello which paid attention to the call his cousin Ernie made to him the afternoon of 31st of July, relaying a concern about Moriarty’s attitude at the Nissan dealership where he worked. Det. Lisa Frattali, who heard them talking took the stand and said why she mentioned it to DiBuonaventura.
Frattali, who was going outside to place a phone call to DiBuonaventura about an unrelated domestic violence incident from the previous night, said she was walking past Calvello’s desk when she heard him say “What do you mean Moriarty is drunk at Nissan?”
Frattali also heard Calvello saying, “Moriarty is drunk at Nissan” but said she never asked DiBuonaventura to investigate. When asked why she told DiBuonaventura, she replied, “I thought I was talking to my friend”.
After 10 minutes, she called DiBuonaventura again to inform him that she did not have more details. She said DiBuonaventura then asked her what car Moriarty drives, and she laughed and replied “we all know” what he drives due to his special legislative plates.
Frattali told that while she knew DiBuonaventura will possibly go to the Nissan dealership area and “see if he saw [Moriarty]”, she thought if there was a requirement for a police response to the situation, Calvello will have arranged it.
A week ago, she said that DiBuonaventura called and asked Frattali to write a supplemental police report in which it should be written that she had “sent” DiBuonaventura to Nissan, which she refused again and again due to the reason that she said that never happened.
“I said ‘I didn’t send you up there” and [DiBuonaventura] said ‘I just need you to write it,” ‘said Frattali, saying later she thought if the stop “was good,” meaning there was probable cause, there will be no requirement for her report.
Frattali said, “I didn’t want to get involved because I didn’t trust what he was telling me. I kept asking if there was a problem with the stop and he kept avoiding the question”.
Attention was paid by defense lawyer Louis Barbone on his cross-examination on Frattali’s family’s political ties and her hesitation to write a report.
Barbone paid attention to the transcript of Frattali’s interview with Gloucester County Prosecutor’s Office Sgt. Hemphill, who investigated the charges against DiBuonaventura.
Hemphill was told by Frattali that she “was pissed” at DiBuonaventura for this “circus” and that she didn’t want to get involved due to the reason that she “didn’t want to put my family through that”.
In a reply, Assistant Prosecutor Audrey Curwin focused her redirect questions on the time period between the day DiBuonaventura took Moriarty into custody on 31st of July and the day he asked Frattali to write the supplemental report on 7th of August. She also questioned Frattali if DiBuonaventura could have included his telephonic conversation with Frattali in his initial police report on 31st of July which has no mention of the conversation. The report also states DiBuonaventura’s cause for stopping Moriarty was that Moriarty “cut off” DiBuonaventura. Frattali said he could have reported the conversation that had given the clue of Moriarty’s whereabouts, and she never told him not to.
The final witness paid attention on Moriarty’s presence in the police station after his arrest, as Cpl. Preston Forchion of the police’s traffic safety unit took the stand.
Forchion was asked questions by Curwin about his years of experience and training on DWI, drug intoxication and breath test operation, but soon asked about what he saw on 31st of July.
Forchion said that he was in the police station when one of the officers certified to run the Alcotest machine; he was asked to run the test on a DWI suspect. After he walked into the processing room and saw Moriarty there, he said he came back and said to his supervisor he did not want to run the test.
Forchion said, “I said ‘I don’t believe Mr. Moriarty was impaired,” and told he heard Moriarty talk and did not see any sign of impairment. He was then asked by his supervisor to run the test.
Both times, when he first entered and then returned to the processing room, Forchion said he never noticed any smell of alcohol. That was not common, he said due to the reason that the smell of alcohol is usually thick in the air when a DWI suspect is being processed. Forchion added, “I didn’t see anything indicative of someone who was intoxicated”.
Moriarty, in conversation with DiBuonaventura at the station, refused to give breath sample for testing and has since said it was due to the reason that he was suspect of the process and afraid any individual could tamper with the machine.
In his cross-examination of Forchion, Barbone who focused that 2 other officers wrote reports which showed that they did smell alcohol and asked if he’s seen suspects’ intoxication levels “run the gamut” of wildly drunk to possibly impaired.
Forchion replied, “No. If I arrest someone, I believe they are intoxicated”.
Barbone then changed his questioning again toward possible political ties and asked Forchion if he had political aspirations. Forchion said he might one day run for office, and confirmed he’s spoken with State Sen. Fred Madden. He told that he had never been to Madden’s Johnson Road office and didn’t know he shared it with Moriarty.
The trial is stopped for the rest of the week, and will start again on Tuesday at 9 a.m. when the prosecution will continue to call its witnesses. It was expected that it will complete on Wednesday; when the defense will make its case.
News Source: www.NJ.com
54-year-old Nicholas Chaban was more than twice the legal limit of alcohol with a side of cocaine when he got a DUI citation in December 2013.
He was cited 3 more times by September.
On Friday, Former chief financial officer for the Philadelphia health-care provider Mazzoni Center, Chaban pleaded guilty to all 4 DUIs, as well as trespassing and drug-possession charges that came in the month of May after he was bounced from a Conshohocken bar.
According to Montgomery County Court Judge, Cheryl Austin, “I’ve got five files in front of me. That’s a record”.
He is still not going to jail. The Norristown resident was sentenced to time served, inpatient rehab, and 2 years of probation. The judge cannot give him a higher sentence than that.
Under a state law that has been altered since Chaban was charged, each of his drunken-driving crimes counted as a 1st DUI offense due to the reason that all happened before he was sentenced for the 1st arrest.
Assistant District Attorney Bradford Richman, head of the year-old DUI unit in the prosecutor’s office said, “This guy’s exceedingly lucky he didn’t kill somebody”.
Chaban was taken into custody in Conshohocken in the month of July twice within a week for driving under the influence of alcohol. The 2nd time he was arrested, he drove into 6 parked motor vehicles.
In 2 separate incidents, his BAC level increased to 0.16 percent which is double the legal definition of drunken driving. In the month of September, he drove away from a crash in Whitpain Township and into a fence. He stayed in prison after that incident until Friday’s hearing.
On 31st of December, changes to the law went into effect. They ensure that multiple DUIs are counted as subsequent offenses and carry increasingly harsher penalties even if they happen before a defendant has been convicted or sentenced for a first offense.
During Friday’s sentencing, the judge said that she could have sent Chaban to state prison if the offenses had occurred this year.
Montgomery County has also altered the way it handles habitual drunken drivers. A repeat offender’s DUI cases are now all assigned to one prosecutor. The office is also increasing its struggles to revoke bail for individuals who are taken into custody on a second DUI. Richman told that in some cases, prosecutors ask judges to make operating a vehicle a bail violation and seek to have defendants surrender their driver’s licenses as a bail condition.
Chaban was wearing a denim prison jacket at the hearing, didn’t speak at length. His attorney, Vincent Cirillo, described him as a family man in crisis. Marital issues, an elderly father and job related depression contributed to a breakdown, according to him. “At some point in time, anyone can really hit a breaking point and basically go over the edge”.
Chaban has two master’s degrees and a history of driving under the influence of alcohol with 2 arrests between the year 1984 and 2002.
Additional legislation is in the works to keep drunken drivers off the road and away from other drivers. Mothers Against Drunk Driving is supporting state bills to require that an interlock system be installed for 6 months in first-time offender’s vehicles. A similar law is awaiting Gov. Christie’s signature in New Jersey.
Frank Harris, MADD’s director of state government affairs said, “It teaches sober driving behavior that license suspension alone just can’t”.
News Source: Philly.com
A drunk driver taken into custody by Philadelphia Police officers on Friday afternoon in Northeast Philly on the suspicion of drunk driving died hours later his arrest.
According to the authorities, the 29-year-old suspect was brought to a detention center in Center City at around 3:45 p.m. at 750 Race St.
He was put in a cell at the detention center while he waited for a breathalyzer test. When the police officers went to check on him at around 10:15 p.m. they found him unresponsive. This was more than six hours of arriving at the detention center.
Police officers checked him and he appeared to have stopped breathing. He was rushed to the hospital where he was pronounced dead according to investigators.
The cause of death was unknown.
An investigation into the matter is underway.
News Source: www.NBCPhiladelphia.com
As medical marijuana is legal in almost half the states and as a small number of Americans are saying that they are in favor of recreational availability as well, the tensed medical researchers are making efforts to project the potential impact on public health problems ranging from addiction to cognition to traffic accident fatalities.
To answer the question that could easier access to marijuana decrease deadly car accidents is that according to a new study, traffic deaths in nine states, in which New Jersey is also included, is that high rates of toxicology testing is admittedly hazy.
In the journal Injury Epidemiology, it is written by the author, “Increased availability of marijuana to young adults in U.S. states that have passed medical and recreational use allowance may have positive spillover effects on alcohol, reducing use to some degree among young adults”. They are hesitant to say that may not decrease traffic fatalities.
A high number of individuals die due to alcohol than the number of individuals who die by any other drug but the theory has to do with how 2 goods interact: “When one substance becomes more legally accessible, what happens to the prevalence of other substances?” asked the authors.
In economic terms, if 2 goods are complements, then demand for one increases with availability of the other. If they are substitutes, the opposite occurs. Findings from the researches that happened in the past on the relationship between alcohol and marijuana have been mixed.
For their new study, the Columbia University scientists examined toxicology data for 7,191 individuals who were in the age limit between 16 to 25 year and who died within 1 hour after the accidents that happened between 1999 and 2011. Almost 37 percent had alcohol in their system, 6 percent for marijuana, and 8 percent for both.
The analysis looks at how those proportions altered according to age and particularly the one variable that consistently affects availability of alcohol: turning 21.
Alcohol use increased 14 percent after age 21 as compared with cases that had not reached the age and marijuana use decreased 24 percent, showing that the substances are substitutes. But the trend was up by 22 percent among drivers who had both drugs in their systems, pointing to a complementary relationship there.
Another problem in this study is that the independent variable was the legal drinking age.
According to lead author Katherine Keyes, an assistant professor at Columbia’s Mailman School of Public Health who studies substance-abuse epidemiology, “This shows the impact of alcohol on marijuana, not necessarily marijuana on alcohol. It is suggestive”.
Although Washington was one of the states studied, all the data were gathered long prior to the first recreational pot went on sale there last summer. Colorado, where business has been booming for a year, was not included in the study. Researchers are looking at it now, however.
In the month of October, Gallup reported that the public opinion on marijuana has been changed immediately with 51 percent of Americans favoring legalization. Although recreational use has been legalized in only the 2 states, medical use is permitted in 23 states in which New Jersey is included.
In Pennsylvania, a medical marijuana bill overwhelmingly passed the Senate before failing in the House in 2014. The new House Majority Leader, David Reed (R., Indiana), was co-sponsor of a version of the bill in the House. Gov. Wolf is in favor of legalization for medical use.
The new research paper, while suggesting an increase in marijuana use could lead to a slight decrease in fatalities that occur due to alcohol, notes many other factors must be considered and the net result “may be null or even detrimental for fatality rates overall”.
Highly potent marijuana can be just as dangerous on the highway, for example and strong demand would likely mean more individuals driving high. Once the drug is legalized, state regulators have some control over both.
Keyes added, “The way laws are implemented are going to matter a lot”.
Among drivers between the ages of 16 to 25 years old who died in car accidents, age was a key predictor of drug use. Compared to young aged drivers, there was less possibility of those 21 years old to have used marijuana alone but more likely to have used it with alcohol:
- Alcohol only +14%
- Marijuana only -24%
- Combined use +22%
News Source: www.Philly.com
Last summer, Christopher Gish was taken into custody 3 times in the time period of 11 days and was charged with DUI in Dickson County.
His driving privileges could have been taken after his 2nd offense but he remained free until the third offense because of some reasons, in which the communication gap between the Borough cops and circumstances of Lackawanna County’s method of prosecuting the DUI drivers were included.
Last week, he was sentenced to 6 months of house arrest by Lackawanna County Judge, Michael Barrasse, for a 3rd time DUI offense. In the month of October after pleading guilty, he was ordered to pay an amount of $8,100 in fine.
38-year-old Gish slipped through the loophole in the State law due to the short period of time in which he got DUI’s otherwise he would have been facing strict penalties for the 3rd offense.
According to Chief William Bilinski, another reason of his short sentence was that he was taken into custody on 22nd of August for the 1st offense and for the 2nd time on 27th of August and due to the close dates, the Dickson City police officer didn’t make the link between the 2 offenses he committed. Police failed in recognition so he was allowed to drive and was set free on the roads which was a risk for other people present on the roadways.
According to David Hahn, who is the agency’s director, Dickson City Police Officer Michael Ranakoski did not check the background details from the 911 dispatch center during the 2nd time Gish was taken into custody, which maintains countywide and national criminal database on matters such as outstanding warrants and the times in which someone is taken into custody. By law, a cop must request that information for the dispatcher to release it, told Mr. Hahn.
Had he requested it, the cop may have learnt that Mr. Gish was getting arrested for his second DUI arrest in 5 days. In that case, steps could have been taken to stop his release, which is what happened after the 3rd time he was taken into custody.
Speaking through Chief Bilinski, the officer said he did not make the request due to the reason that he was focused on completing the arrest at the time. But even if he had, the happening of the first time arrest may not have been available to him.
The reason behind that is that law enforcement officials here rely on a blood test to find the BAC level when building a case against a suspected drunk driver. Chief Bilinski said that the results from a blood test can take almost 2 to 3 weeks to arrive from the lab. It is usual in the county to release suspected drunk drivers from custody until those results are available to show that the person was under the influence.
That time period delays the filing of charges and the launching of a criminal court case. DUI cases in which breath tests are used can initiate court proceedings and the potential penalties faster. Due to the reason that Mr. Gish had been taken into custody twice in a short period of time, his initial charges would likely not have even been logged yet, according to Chief Bilinski and Mr. Hahn.
Lackawanna County Deputy District Attorney, Robert Klein, who is the head of the office’s DUI unit, said that the lag time of using blood compared to breath tests is extensively outweighed by its greater accuracy value, as well as its ability to test for illegal drugs in the suspected individual which is an increasing issue in area drivers.
Mr. Klein said of blood testing, “It’s better. All around better”.
When he was taken into custody for the first 2 times, Mr. Gish had an extremely high BAC level which came out to be 0.332 percent the 1st time it was tested and 0.312 percent the 2nd time. Chief Bilinski, who took Mr. Gish into custody for the third time, estimated him at similar levels. These BAC levels are more than or near to four times the legal limit of 0.08 percent.
Attempts to approach Mr. Gish were not successful.
He will lose his driver’s license for 3 years, one for each verdict because he has been sentenced now, told Mr. Klein. He was able to get back his seized Ford F-150 pickup truck after his 1st DUI and drive it, as he had not yet been convicted.
When he was taken into custody for the 3rd time, he was behind the wheel of a Honda Civic with expired registration and no insurance, said Chief Bilinski.
Although they failed to recognize Mr. Gish’s immediate criminal history at the time of the 2nd arrest, Dickson City police officers did notice it a short time after and were ready for him the third time on 2nd of September. The department alerted the district attorney’s office in advance and Judge Barrasse set extraordinarily high cash bail of $100,000, essentially denying another fast release.
The chief said, “We knew we needed to get him off the street because he just was not complying. He would not listen.”
Usually, a 3rd DUI conviction within 10 years at the highest level of BAC level, which categorizes Mr. Gish, would require a judge give the defendant minimum 1 year in prison and would permit for a maximum of 5 years but as the arrests came in such close succession, Mr. Gish had no convictions on his record at any of the times he was arrested. Therefore, every time he was taken into custody, the arrest had to be logged as a 1st offense which carries a lighter compulsory sentence of just 72 hours in jail and permit for a maximum of 6 months. Penalties for first offense also carry a driver’s license suspension of 1 year rather than serving 18 months in jail for the 3rd conviction.
Other than the 6 months of house arrest and the high amount of fine, Judge Barrasse sentenced Mr. Gish to 18 months of alcohol-free court supervision, nine months of monitoring with an alcohol-detecting bracelet and alcohol counseling for his addiction. In his court appearance, Mr. Gish accepted to the issue. After he was taken into custody for the 3rd time, Mr. Gish told police officers that he couldn’t stop and didn’t want to be let out of prison, told Chief Bilinski.
The chief added, “He knew he had a problem. He was getting up in the morning and he was drinking just to feel good.”
News Source: TheTimes-Tribune
54-years-old Alexandria Cogan of Elkins Park was charged on Monday for causing an alleged DUI accident that resulted in her husband’s death.
The incident took place in Lower Moreland on 19 August on Huntingdon Pike near Spur Road when Cogan was driving a Mazda Miata convertible. She had the top of the vehicle down when it crossed over the yellow lines and slammed into a Toyota Camry. Police reports confirm that Cogan was driving at a speed of 63 m.p.h in a 45 m.p.h zone when the incident happened.
As a result of the collision, the Mazda flipped over. Cogan’s husband, 70-year-old Stuart, who was a passenger in the vehicle, was pronounced dead at the scene.
The Camry was damaged from the front-end heavily and the driver of the Camry was rushed to the hospital. The extent of the driver’s injuries were not known.
According to police records, Cogan has a previous drunken-driving conviction. She was arrested in 1999 in Cheltenham for DUI for which she entered the Montgomery County’s diversion program.
For the recent incident, she was arraigned Monday afternoon on charges including a felony count of homicide by vehicle while driving under the influence. Her bail was set at $100,000 by District Judge Jay Friedenberg after which she was released. According to the court documents, Cogan’s blood alcohol level was recorded at 0.253, which is three times the legal limit for driving.
Glenn Frank Gilman, Cogan’s attorney based in Philadelphia, did not return a phone call immediately for comment.
News Source: www.Philly.com
24-year-old Nichole Labelle of Secane is awaiting trial for killing a young man while she was driving intoxicated in Philadelphia.
The incident took place two years ago in Upper Darby when Labelle was arrested one Tuesday night after she crashed her car. According to police, she had used prescription pills and was high on heroin at the time.
According to the police reports, Secane crashed her vehicle into an unoccupied car at about 8:45 p.m. on Tuesday. The incident took place on Westbrook Drive near Alverstone Road.
Upper Darby Police Superintendent Michael Chitwood gave details of the incident saying that Labelle was speaking in a lethargic manner. She also had only one shoe on at the time. She told the police that she allegedly got distracted which caused the crash.
Labelle was questioned by the police and she told them that she had taken two prescription pills, Adderall and Seroquel, and she also had a shot of heroin before she got behind the wheel of her car.
According to the authorities, Labelle has several problems.
Her previous record showed that at the time she was arrested for this incident, she was already out on bail awaiting trial for another driving under the influence incident that took place on July 15, 2012. She was facing homicide by vehicle charges after she killed 21-year-old George Kaminski of West Grove, Chester County in a midafternoon crash.
Labelle was travelling on Enterprise Avenue in Southwest Philadelphia when she crossed over the shoulder and crashed into a stopped tractor-trailer. Kaminski, who was a passenger in the truck suffered severe head and body trauma in the crash. He died two days later from the injuries he sustained in the accident.
She was arrested on charges of vehicular homicide and her bail was initially set at 10 percent of $350,000 in that case. However, it was later reduced to 10 percent of $50,000 which she posted in August.
The next pretrial conference in the case is scheduled for 17 December. A spokeswoman for the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office, Tasha Jamerson, stated that new charges are most likely to be brought up against Labelle in the conference and a bail revocation may also be requested then.
Labelle faces several charges in the recent case, including DUI, careless driving and other related offenses. She is currently being held at Delaware County Prison in lieu of $250,000 bail.
News Source: Mobile.Philly.com
58-year-old Joe Gallagher, a longtime football coach at Haverford High School in Delaware County, is going to need a good defensive coordinator after his recent DUI charge.
Gallagher was arrested on the suspicion of drunk driving after he allegedly fled the scene of a crash that took place in Prospect Park on Saturday. According to the Delaware County District Attorney’s Office, he is also facing charges of reckless driving apart from the DUI charge.
Police reports confirm that Gallagher allegedly drove into another vehicle about 4 p.m. when he was at an intersection. After the crash, he fled the scene. However, no one was injured in the crash.
Gallagher was later pulled over by a Prospect Park Police Department officer who spotted his car as described by witnesses.
The officer found an open bottle of Piraat Belgian Ale in the car’s center cup holder. Gallagher also had a faint odor of alcohol on his breath and he told the officer that he “messed up.”
“I hit [the other driver] and should have stopped,” he told the officer.
According to Amanda Larsen, a spokeswoman for the Haverford Township School District, Gallagher has taken a leave of absence from his coaching position. The reason for his leave of absence is “personal reasons”.
During his absence, an assistant coach at Haverford High, Jack O’Donnell, will serve as the acting head coach.
News Source: Mobile.Philly.com
PHILADELPHIA – A suspected drunk driver was taken in custody in West Philadelphia after he tried to flee and evade police officers. While he was attempting to flee, he hit a 22-year-old man riding a bicycle and also struck a parked car.
The incident took place on Saturday and started around 12:40 a.m. Police tried to stop a vehicle which was speeding and travelling in the wrong lane of a two-way street at 5500 Spruce Street. However, the driver completely ignored the police and struck a bicyclist. The incident took place in the 800 block of South 56th Street in Cobbs Creek.
The driver, who was thought to be driving while under the influence then continued to flee while officers pursued him. He hit a parked vehicle which caused the parked vehicle to strike another parked vehicle. The vehicle was parked along the 5000 block of Baltimore Avenue.
After the driver hit the parked vehicle, he tried to flee from the scene in foot. He was later found at his home by the police where he was arrested.
The bicyclist who was hit by the drunk driver sustained several injuries and was taken to the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania. He sustained injuries to his arms, legs and neck. However, he was listed to be in stable condition.
The drunk driver who tried to flee from the accident spots was expected to be charged with DUI, leaving the scene of an accident, recklessly endangering another person and similar offenses. The identity of the 20-year-old driver was not immediately released by the police.
News Source: Philadelphia.CBSLocal.com
UPPER DARBY – A DUI crash that took place on Sunday resulted in a Drexel Hill man being charged with aggravated assault and related offenses.
According to police reports, the man was driving under the influence, seriously injured a 31-year-old woman and also slammed into three vehicles.
The offender, identified as 57-year-old Ronald Devuono of the 3800 block of Bonsall Avenue, was driving a bright orange 2014 Dodge Charger when he went for a Sunday drive through Drexel Hill area around 5 p.m. Police reports state that he allegedly had an open bottle of Don Perignon in the vehicle.
Police Superintendent Michael Chitwood said that Devuono struck a parked 2014 Jeep Cherokee while driving in the area of Childs Avenue and Lasher Road. The incident caused significant damage to the Jeep and Devuono fled the scene at a high rate of speed. However, witnesses were able to note the license number of his car.
After fleeing from the scene, Devuono went in the area of Garrett Road and Congress Avenue where he smashed his car into a 1999 Toyota Corolla within five minutes of the first crash. The Corolla was being driven by a woman. She suffered serious injuries as a result of the collision and was admitted to Delaware County Memorial in serious condition with multiple fractures. After his car bounced off the Toyota, he then smashed into a 2004 Acura.
His vehicle then bounced onto the trolley racks before it came to a stop. Devuono then leaned out of his Charger to empty a bottle of Dom Perignon onto the ground according to witnesses.
“When police officers arrive, he can just about get out of the car. There was a strong odor of alcohol and he flunked field sobriety tests,” said Chitwood.
Devuono suffered several injuries in the crash. He was taken to Delaware County Memorial Hospital for treatment of his injuries and for blood tests.
Chitwood commented on the incident saying, “Here’s a guy who could have killed numerous people, not only in vehicles, but on the sidewalk. Fortunately, nobody got killed, but the woman he hit suffered significant injuries.”
Devuono faces several charges as a result of the incident including driving under the influence, aggravated assault by vehicle while DUI, reckless driving, careless driving, accident involving damage to unattended vehicle or property, failure to stop and render aid, reckless endangerment and related offenses.
He is being held in Delaware County prison on 10 percent of $25,000 bail.