Three People Charged in Convenience Store Robberies

November 10, 2017 |

By Jason Togyer | Posted in: Crime and Police News

From left: Damon Gergely, Lindsay Vasko and Bennie Carter. (Photos courtesy McKeesport and West Mifflin police.)

Three people face charges in connection with convenience store robberies in Dravosburg and West Mifflin.

And police say at least seven similar holdups in Allegheny and Westmoreland counties are being investigated.

"We anticipate additional robbery charges will be filed," West Mifflin police Chief Kenneth Davies said in a prepared statement.

Damon M. Gergely, 24, of North Huntingdon Twp. is charged by McKeesport police with robbery, theft by unlawful taking, recklessly endangering another person and criminal conspiracy in connection with the Oct. 22 holdup at the Spee-D Mart on Richland Avenue, police said.

In a prepared statement, McKeesport police said Lindsay S. Vasko, 25, of Duquesne also faces charges of criminal conspiracy in connection with the Dravosburg robbery.

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Six Held in Drug Bust Involving Heroin, Tranquilizers

November 09, 2017 |

By Staff Reports | Posted in: Crime and Police News

Six suspected narcotics dealers have been charged with selling a substance that state Attorney General Josh Shapiro described as "literally a drug used to tranquilize elephants."

The case centers on an alleged drug ring, operated out of the Braddock and Homestead areas, that sold $750,000 in suspected narcotics in 2016 and 2017.

It resulted in the first known seizure in Allegheny County of carfentanil, said a spokesman for Shapiro's office.

“It is outrageous criminal conduct, we won’t allow it, and with strong law enforcement collaboration, we’ve shut down a drug ring that sold three-quarters of a million dollars of poison in towns across Allegheny County," Shapiro said Thursday in a prepared statement.

Carfentanil is marketed under the trade name "Wildnil" and is intended as a tranquilizer for large animals, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. The drug is about 10,000 times more potent than morphine, the FDA has said.

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Hearing Slated For Man Charged in Attempted Homicide

November 06, 2017 |

By Staff Reports | Posted in: Crime and Police News

TW: Domestic violence

A McKeesport man is charged by city police with attempted homicide in connection with a violent domestic dispute.

Andre Taylor, 44, faces a preliminary hearing Nov. 20 before Magisterial District Judge Eugene Riazzi on charges of attempted homicide, aggravated assault, recklessly endangering another person, unlawful restraint and simple assault.

Court officials said Taylor is being held in Allegheny County Jail in lieu of $7,000 cash bond.

McKeesport police said officers were dispatched to a home on Baldwin Avenue early on the morning of Sept. 26 when callers reported a domestic dispute in progress.

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Police Log: Nov. 6, 2017

November 06, 2017 |

By Staff Reports | Posted in: Crime and Police News

  • Arrest records published here were provided by the McKeesport Police Department.
  • Not all arrest records are published.
  • A report of an arrest does not mean the person identified has been convicted of a crime.
  • All people arrested are innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.
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Police Still Seeking Dravosburg Convenience Store Bandit

November 01, 2017 |

By Staff Reports | Posted in: Crime and Police News

McKeesport police are still seeking the public's help in identifying the man who robbed a Dravosburg convenience store.

McKeesport police Chief Bryan Washowich said the suspect entered the store on Richland Avenue just after 9 p.m. Oct. 22 and demanded money.

Although he did not display a weapon, Washowich said, the suspect did threaten the clerk. He was given cash and fled, on foot, toward Euclid Avenue, the chief said.

No vehicle was seen leaving the scene, Washowich said.

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Owner of Dravosburg Company Pleads Guilty to Fraud Scheme

October 30, 2017 |

By Submitted Report | Posted in: Crime and Police News

The owner of a Dravosburg-based contracting company pleaded guilty in federal court to conspiracy to defraud the U.S. government, Acting U.S. Attorney Soo C. Song said today.

Donald R. Taylor, 78, of Eighty-Four, Washington County, entered the plea before U.S. District Judge Nora Barry Fischer in Pittsburgh.

Taylor, the owner of Century Steel Erectors Co., testified in court that he conspired with Watson L. Maloy Jr., 77, of Union Twp., Washington County, to use Maloy’s company, W.M.C.C. Inc., as a "front" company to illegally obtain federally funded subcontracts on bridge projects being completed for the state Department of Transportation and the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission.

W.M.C.C. qualified for certain government jobs because it was a minority-owned small business, federal prosecutors said. Century Steel Erectors was not.

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Former Mon Valley Man Sentenced for Parole Violations

October 26, 2017 |

By Staff Reports | Posted in: Crime and Police News

TW: Sexual assault, domestic violence

A former McKeesport and Monongahela resident who was released from federal prison after seven years violated the terms of his parole by committing new crimes, federal prosecutors said.

Now, Santana Wygant, 40, faces another three years in prison, plus an additional five years of supervised release.

Wygant was sentenced last week by U.S. District Judge Nora Barry Fischer in Pittsburgh, according to Acting U.S. Attorney Soo C. Song.

Fischer imposed the maximum sentence allowed, Song said.

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Attorney, Newspaper Co-Owner Pleads Guilty in Fraud Case

October 16, 2017 |

By Submitted Report | Posted in: Crime and Police News

A suspended attorney pleaded guilty on Monday to charges he embezzled funds from one of his clients, then used the money to support the Mon Valley Independent newspaper.

Keith A. Bassi, 61, of Jefferson Twp., Fayette County, will be sentenced on three counts of mail fraud March 14 by U.S. District Judge Arthur J. Schwab, said a spokeswoman for Acting U.S. Attorney Soo C. Song. Bassi faces up to 60 years in prison, a fine of $750,000, or both.

Bassi's license to practice law has been suspended, the Disciplinary Board of the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania announced on Aug. 16.

Prosecutors said that Bassi had power of attorney over the estate of an elderly client suffering from dementia. They accuse him of engaging in "a series of financial transactions" in which he diverted the estate's assets into his own accounts at CFS Bank and PNC Bank.

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One Dead in Jenny Lind Shooting; City Man Charged With Homicide

October 14, 2017 |

By Staff Reports | Posted in: Crime and Police News

Updated Oct. 15 with victim's name and arrest details.

Updated Oct. 16 with bond and arraignment information.

Above: Damien L. Ashley. (Photo courtesy Allegheny County Police.)

A shooting Saturday afternoon in the 1600 block of Jenny Lind Street has left one man dead and another man hospitalized and facing charges.

Allegheny County police said the shooting stemmed from an argument between the two victims. McKeesport police were dispatched to the area at 1:20 p.m. and found two people suffering from gunshot wounds.

One victim was pronounced dead at the scene, police said. He was identified by the Allegheny County Medical Examiner's Office as Wyatt L. Gaza, 28, of Pittsburgh.

Minutes later, McKeesport police were called to UPMC McKeesport hospital where a man was reportedly being treated for gunshot wounds. County police said that man has been identified as Damien L. Ashley, 28, of McKeesport.

In a prepared release Sunday afternoon, Allegheny County detectives alleged that Ashley and Gaza were arguing and that they believe Ashley began shooting at Gaza, who returned fire. Police allege that Ashley fled after being shot and said he was driven to the hospital in a private vehicle.

Ashley was later flown to a Pittsburgh hospital's trauma center for treatment, police said.

According to court records, Ashley has been charged with homicide, unauthorized possession of a firearm, carrying a firearm without a license and tampering with evidence.

He was arraigned Monday and is currently being held without bond in the Allegheny County Jail pending a preliminary hearing at 11 a.m. Oct. 27 before Allegheny County Judge Jeffrey Manning.

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15-Year-Old Dead in Duquesne Shooting

October 11, 2017 |

By Submitted Report | Posted in: Duquesne News, Crime and Police News

UPDATED Thursday with victim's name.

A teen-ager was pronounced dead at a local hospital following a shooting Wednesday evening in Duquesne.

Lezra Rice, 15, of North Braddock died at 6:26 p.m., the Allegheny County medical examiner's office said. His death has been ruled a homicide.

Allegheny County police have released few details. Emergency workers said 9-1-1 received a report at 5:06 p.m. that someone had been shot in the alley behind the 400 block of Williams Street. When they arrived, police found Rice suffering from what were described only as "multiple gunshot wounds."

Rice was pronounced dead on arrival at the hospital, a spokeswoman said.

Allegheny County police homicide detectives are investigating.

No further details have been released.


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