Wednesday, July 21, 2010

The Callahan Cover-up

Superbowl Sunday 2007.

Indianapolis knocked off the Bears, 29-17. It's a game that meant little to most LV football fans. It did, however, provide an excuse for mid-Winter parties everywhere, including nearly every bar and tavern. As the moon follows the sun, Superbowl festivities lead to more than the usual number of accidents. Even though a police officer was hospitalized and his cruiser damaged, Bethlehem has kept a lid on this story for the past three years. You see, if word leaked out, it might embarrass the Mayor. Bethlehem brass want to "serve and protect," but I have to wonder whether they're protecting the public or Mayor John Callahan.

Craig Kennedy, a Bethlehem Police officer, has just been awarded a unit citation. But three years ago, he could easily have lost his life. He was on duty after the Superbowl, patrolling in South Bethlehem. Roads were dry. Suddenly, while driving along Hellertown Road at 1:03 AM, he noticed the headlights of a vehicle coming right at him from Shimersville Road. That car was not only driving the wrong way on a one-way road, but was moving at a high rate of speed. Before Officer Kennedy could react, that car ran into him on the passenger side of his cruiser. Kennedy must have been knocked unconscious because the next thing he remembers is another officer asking him if he was alright. He was treated at the hospital and missed some time before being cleared for duty.

The car that collided with Kennedy's cruiser, a white Volvo, was on its roof in the grass near Hellertown Road. Its driver and female passenger were fortunately uninjured, but the Volvo itself was totalled. The police cruiser also sustained heavy damage.

When a Bethlehem police officer is hospitalized in the line of duty, and by a car driving too fast and in the wrong direction on a one-way road, that's news. Especially when the driver just happens to be Dino Cantelmi, the Mayor's brother-in-law. Amazingly, there never was any account of this incident in either The Morning Call or Express Times. One former reporter tells me one newspaper might miss a story like this, but not both. He questioned whether this incident was ever included in the police blotter for that day.

I decided to check this out myself, and went to the Bethlehem Police Department yesterday after making sure I had no outstanding warrants for unpaid parking tickets. I wanted to see the police blotter for February 4, 2007, the date of this accident. Was this incident ever included?

I've been spoiled because Northampton and Lehigh County are both excellent at providing information. The practice transparency. Bethlehem's a different story. I got the bum's rush.

Records, my first stop, sent me to the desk sergeant. He actually tried to convince me there were no police blotters in 2007, and that this is some recent innovation started within the last two years. Obviously, there must have been some kind of system for reporters, even back in the dark ages of 2007. The desk sergeant decided to check with his captain, and that's when I told him one of his fellow police officers was injured in the line of duty three years ago, but there never had been any public report of the incident. I asked for the incident report, too, as well as pictures of the damaged cruiser.

I had come at a bad time. Shift change. So officers forgot about me as some left and others reported in. I spent a good 15 minutes listening to one officer professionally field calls from people with different problems. I was taking notes, too, figuring some of them might be pretty good stories. That's when they sent me down the hall to sit next to a coke machine and out of their way.

After a good thirty minutes, Captain Kravitz came back to me. He had been talking to city lawyers about my request for the blotter and Cantelmi report. He told me I'd have to request the blotter from the legal department. And under no circumstances would I get a copy of the incident report, which could be provided only to the parties directly involved in the accident.

Huh? Police blotters and incident reports are both very clearly public records, as a 2009 decision of the state's Office of Open Records makes clear. So why the roadbock? Why the lack of transparency?

While I was unsuccessfully arguing my case with Captain Kravitz, who incidentally is a gentleman, DCED Director Tony Hanna strolled by, and assured me "He [Kravitz] is so transparent I can see through him." I think I could see through him, too, and told him he was protecting Mayor Callahan at the expense of an officer injured in the line of duty.

"Wouldn't you want to protect one of your own?" I asked him, trying to shame him into doing the right thing.

Other police officers have done that. You see, I have the incident report, thanks to some cops who do not like the way one of their own was brushed under a rug to avoid a story that might embarrass Callahan. In addition to seeking the blotter for that day, I wanted to see if the brass would resist my attempt to find out what happened. They did.

So much for a transparent Callahan administration.

I spoke with Cantelmi's female companion and passenger, but will keep her name out of this out of respect for her privacy. According to her, Cantelmi was driving her home in her car because she had a bit too much to drink. She insisted Cantelmi had never touched a drop, and added that Officer Kennedy was really to blame because he must have been doing at least 80 mph.

Well, according to the incident report that Bethlehem police refuse to give me, she was putting on lip gloss and had no idea what had happened. And guess what? Cops smelled booze, and Cantelmi himself admitted he had been drinking. He blew a 0.06 on a notoriously inaccurate field breathalyzer.

This is where things get strange. No field sobriety tests were administered to someone who had just been speeding the wrong way on a one way road at 1:03 AM, crashing into and injuring a police officer, as well as damaging his cruiser.

Also, instead of taking him to the DUI processing center, where a blood sample could be drawn, Cantelmi and companion were taken back to Bethlehem police headquarters. If this had been you or me, it's a safe bet that we'd be carted to the DUI center and perhaps even to jail, especially after injuring an officer. But brother-in-law Cantelmi was slapped on the wrist, charged with the summary offenses of careless driving and driving the wrong way. He was cited by mail, and quickly paid his fine.

Officer Kennedy's cruiser was towed to a city garage, where it sat so long that officers began jokingly referring to it as the "Cantelmi cruiser." It was just fixed recently. Why so long and who paid for the damages? Was it Cantelmi or did it come out of the general fund?

Who paid for Officer Kennedy's workers comp? Was it Cantelmi or the City?

Most importantly, what did the Mayor know, and when did he know it? Was he called about his brother-in-law? Did the decision to avoid the DUI Center have anything to do with the Mayor?

These are the kinds of questions that arise when government officials, whether they are police brass or the Mayor or city lawyers, attempt to hide the truth. It's not the accident. Anybody could be involved in an accident. But why the need to cover it up? Why the penchant for secrecy, instead of transparency? This not only hurts police officers who risk their lives for us every day, but it hurts the public. Like it or not, we do have a right to know.

Before we get into the left v. right arguments, it's important to know whether a leader seeking office is both accountable and transparent. John Callahan lacks the transparency we should demand in a member of Congress.

70 comments:

Anonymous said...

Now just you wait Mr. Ohare. The city solicitor would not agree to such a course of action. Also, people like Joe Long and Steve Baron would not be hosting mega-buck fundraisers for someone who skirted the law.

So just stop right there! Who do you think you are, Jim Rockford?

Anonymous said...

just a question...what do you know about foglesville? do they like the Dents?

Anonymous said...

Isnt this the same Dino Cantelmi that Callahan appointed to the Bethlehem PARKING AUTHORITY! No wonder he and Callahan could hide that police cruiser so easily.

There should be a full investigation into this. It seems like crimes very well may have been committed. How much money did this incident cost the City all while it was being swept under the rug. Outrageous.

Anonymous said...

interesting, although only a speculative link to callahan.

Anonymous said...

If he did not blow above the legal limit, then the police did the correct thing. You don't administer the field sobriety test unless they are over the limit. You don't go to the DUI center unless you are DUI. 0.06 is not DUI.

It appears he was properly cited. Not every crime and accident make the paper, particularly when they offenses are summary charges.

O'Hare is just blowing something not directly involving the Mayor out of proportion. Dent must be giving you a bonus this week.

Anonymous said...

Funny, I remember Allentown Police Chief McClane being involved in covering up a Pawlowski accident shortly after Pawlowski took office.

Anonymous said...

Speculative link? Callahan's brother-in-law, someone he appointed to the Parking Authority, was involved in an accident with City property that injured a police officer. The report was burried and the Chief of Police is talking to City lawyers before talking to O'hare. Open your eyes. How many favors or jobs can one family member have before it becomes suspect?

Anonymous said...

"If he did not blow above the legal limit, then the police did the correct thing. You don't administer the field sobriety test unless they are over the limit. You don't go to the DUI center unless you are DUI. 0.06 is not DUI."

This is not even close to a factual statement.

Anonymous said...

Bernie,
This is a shocking story.

Anonymous said...

Isnt this the same Dino Cantelmi that Callahan appointed to the Bethlehem PARKING AUTHORITY! No wonder he and Callahan could hide that police cruiser so easily.

Bernie
Isn't this the same Cantelmi whose dad is trying to get a funeral home and condos built in a non-commercial zone along 191? Not sure, just asking.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...

Funny, I remember Allentown Police Chief McClane being involved in covering up a Pawlowski accident shortly after Pawlowski took office.

7:25 AM

Wasn't that a Volvo too and wasn't it snowing?

Anonymous said...

Anon said:

"Wasn't that a Volvo too and wasn't it snowing?"

**********************************

In Pawlowski's case, I don't think it was a Volvo but it was Pawlowski's city vehicle.

It was during bad weather, which made the cover-up more curious (since it could have been easily explained by the weather - if that was really the cause)

Anonymous said...

Bernie,
What about medical insurance fraud? Didn't this officer have to go to a hospital for treatment? How was the accident reported there? Was this officer denied an opportunity to sue for injuries? What about 10 years from now if he starts to get headaches? How will he be compensated or even be able to prove such medical issues resulted from this particular accident if the truth was not revealed at the time?

Anonymous said...

Since it takes an act of God to link Callahan to this incident, you got no proof!, do you think he was on the grassy knoll?

Anonymous said...

I am shocked! A realtive of the Bethlehem Mayor got a cover up on a DUI...I think we have a woman state senator who holds the record on that !

Anonymous said...

I love all the people commenting like this is no big deal.

"Oh fiddle dee dee, so what if the Mayor's brother-in-law is driving the wrong way up a one way street, crashes into a police car and then get's kid glove treatment from the police. Shouldn't we expect that from our government?"

Is there any rational person who actually believes that they would be treated as Cantelmi was treated given the same circumstances -- with the variation that you wouldn't be related to his Nibs John Callahan?

John Callahan is a corrupt politician.

Bernie O'Hare said...

In answer to some of the questions being asked, this is the same Din Cantweklmio who sits on the parking Authority. This is the same Dino who wants to put up a funeral hime or codos at the old Jiralanio property, which is being rezoned to make it easier.

Bernie O'Hare said...

If he did not blow above the legal limit, then the police did the correct thing. You don't administer the field sobriety test unless they are over the limit. You don't go to the DUI center unless you are DUI. 0.06 is not DUI."

It's pretty muich discretionary what happens. With a 0.06 and a big accident involving an injury, most cops would have conducted field sobriety tests and would have taken a suspect to DUI. But I'm told this is discretionary.

Anonymous said...

This was an especially juicy Dent press release!

Bernie O'Hare said...

Thank you for the compliment. if this were a Dent news release, it would be better written and more informative.

Anonymous said...

"He's so transparent you can see through him," says Tony H.

F'n right! The more you think about how much bullshit happened with this case the more you realize you can see right through the special treatment extended to a Callahan crony.

And isn't it funny that Tony H. just happens to mosey down to the basement when Bernie is there looking into the Cantelmi crash?

Anonymous said...

Anon 9:19, is this going to be Callahan's defense to this? Basically saying "I'm pretty sure I buried all the evidence deep enough to where you can't connect me to this."

Anonymous said...

Anon 9:19, is this going to be Callahan's defense to this? Basically saying "I'm pretty sure I buried all the evidence deep enough to where you can't connect me to this."

Anonymous said...

Wow.

The Dent Howitzer just got a gift wrapped delivery of 1,000 shells to launch over Callahan's head, if he so chooses.

This all "may" be legit, but if Bethlehem doesn't give up the paperwork willingly, it'll go from looking funny to smelling very badly.

Bernie O'Hare said...

I am not happy with the answer I got yesterday and will be filing a Right to Know request.

Anonymous said...

That is one heck of a pretty awful story, not only because of the immediate ramifications -- injured police officer, cover-up and maybe not quite accurate medical records re same, damage to city property, cronyism, cover-up, stonewalling, etc., but it illustrates a huge danger to all the citizens of Bethlehem. Where the rule of law is replaced by cronyism, everyone is in danger.

And speaking of condominiums, you have a real can of worms there too. Pennsylvania, unlike New Jersey, does not regulate condominiums, and there is nowhere to turn when a clique or a strongman takes over the governance of a condo community, and uses the place as personal property, complete with ignoring fiduciary responsibilities against conflict of interest. And by the way, a letter to Mayor Callahan regarding the planned destruction of mature trees, went unanswered for weeks until after a phone call was made to follow up, which elicited an email from the city forester. So, after this story gets aired and dissminated, and after the election is over, and hopefully is won by Dent, may I suggest a condo expose.

Anonymous said...

Waitaminit -- accident reports aren't available? Funny that wasn't what the newspaper reported about the accident where Charlie Dent was hit by a car that ran a red light.

Here's an excerpt from the Morning Call article from Januar 15, 2010:

"Police said the full accident report will be available today, but no one was hurt in the collision."

Doesn't seem like these accident reports are such state secrets after all.

Bernie O'Hare said...

No, they aren't, and I'll be delivering my Right to Know request today.

Anonymous said...

It was during bad weather, which made the cover-up more curious (since it could have been easily explained by the weather - if that was really the cause)

8:43 AM

You're right. It was a city vehicle but why was it covered-up?

Anonymous said...

Wouldn't the police department's health insurance carrier's name be public information?

Anonymous said...

Bernie,
Would you know exactly where the city of Bethlehem wants to put more parking across the street from the Moravian Book Store? Isn't the property across the street aka
Hotel Bethlehem and isn't the property next to the hotel owned by
Historic Bethlehem Partnership?

Anonymous said...

This is an amazing story. Why do these people in government think they can do things like this -- give advantages to their favorites -- without being exposed?

Anonymous said...

Bernie,
Permission to Post:
Is this true? Anyone know.
Health Care Bill also contains a federal tax of 3.8% on the sale of your house?

Bernie O'Hare said...

I'll try to find out.

Anonymous said...

The thing is many Americans learn about a two-tier legal system as children. Others have to be hit over the head before they believe stuff like this goes on.

Anonymous said...

If the police lied at the hospital as to how the officer was injured, wouldn't they be charged with
conspiracy to commit fraud?

Anonymous said...

Is Cantelmi married? Who was with him when he crashed?

I'd waged that plays a part in this as well.

Anonymous said...

There's got to be more to this event than meets the eye. Was Dino drunk? Was he with someone inappropriate? Was he driving his own car? Where had he been drinking before the accident, if indeed he was drinking at all? Perhaps that issue is why the coverup began in the first place. And what about this poor officer? Is he all right and is there a chance his department violated his civil rights?

Anonymous said...

Bernie!
Your constant coverage of All Things Lehigh Valley makes it hard for a guy to go to work!

Bernie O'Hare said...

"Is Cantelmi married? Who was with him when he crashed?"

To me, these questions are irrelevant. They may be the reason for the coverup, but to me the story is the attempt to hide this from the public eye.

Anonymous said...

Bernie,
New Federal Legislation: permission to post:
Courtesy of Drudge Report:

"DON'T YOU ALL GET IT ??? IT'S EVERY TRANSACTION WITH A BUSINESS OVER $600 A YEAR.This means Sam's Club, and Costco and Office Depot and Home Depot and Joe's Coffee Shop and EVERY BUSINESS THAT SPENDS MORE THAN $600 AT ONE PLACE WILL NEED TO FILE A 1099 FOR THOSE PURCHASES. If you make copes at a Fed Ex store or buy coffee and donuts once a month for the office and expense it or if you cut hair and buy shampoo and conditioner, you will have to file a 1099. If you are an independent contractor and buy a ticket for work you will have to give your airline a 1099, if you sell stuff on eBay you will have to get a 1099 from UPS and the Post Office and EVERY PLACE YOU SPEND $600 total.And Barack Obama will be able to find out where you spent everything.

Anonymous said...

3 year old news. Move on to current news such as your 75yo friend that is in jail for child porn.

Anonymous said...

"3 year old news. Move on to current news such as your 75yo friend that is in jail for child porn."

Well not really "old news" because this is the first anyone is ever hearing about the cover-up.

Anonymous said...

Happens all the time, in every town, borough and city across the country. How about the allegations of preferential bid status for certain state projects being granted to large political contributors to the other camp? How long does it take to get a highway occupancy permit for a development? How is it that some people must wait weeks while some large political supporters of the other camp can have one in hand within 72 hours? The other camp is not supporting a school boy.

These things happen all the time, and it is disgusting on all accounts no matter who does it. Which of the two of them will be best to lead us out of the probable economic and geopolitical cataclysm that is on the horizon? I really wish I knew.

Anonymous said...

"How about the allegations of preferential bid status for certain state projects being granted to large political contributors to the other camp? How long does it take to get a highway occupancy permit for a development? How is it that some people must wait weeks while some large political supporters of the other camp can have one in hand within 72 hours?"

--
Based on the list of people contributing to Johnny's campaign these are all pertinent questions.

Anonymous said...

"Bernie,
Permission to Post:
Is this true? Anyone know.
Health Care Bill also contains a federal tax of 3.8% on the sale of your house?"


Not really. It’s a 3.8% medicare tax for some high-income households that have net investment income. It only applies to households with adjusted gross income (AGI) more than $200k individuals/$250k married. An additional tax obligation might result from a homesale. Even if the AGI limits are met, the new tax would not be applied to capital gains that result from the sale of a home, since the existing home sale capital gains exclusion rule still applies – $250,000 individual/$500,000 married. So if the gain from the sale of the property is below that amount, then NO Medicare tax will have to be paid on the gain. The new Medicare tax would apply only to a home sale gain realized in excess of the $250K/$500K that pushes the filer’s AGI over the $200K/$250K income limits. I read about this at Realtor.org.

Anonymous said...

2:34 PM post

Thank you for taking the time to extensively respond to this question. Still there seems to be a lot of worry about these issues including new information (not confirmed!) that all of our medical records will be accessible to any medical personnel anywhere in the country without our knowledge or approval.

Anonymous said...

2007 is not old news. Integrity and honor are never old news. Today we
passed St. Luke's Fountain Hill and wondered if the officer was brought there for treatment. If so, doesn't this revelation put this fine institution that may have been deceived in an awkward position?

Anonymous said...

Bernie sez:

"To me, these questions are irrelevant. They may be the reason for the coverup, but to me the story is the attempt to hide this from the public eye."

Really? You don't feel that a married man out with the other woman would contribute to the coverup?

Alrighty then.

Anonymous said...

"The police cruiser also sustained heavy damage."

How did the cruiser get repaired and who paid for it? Did the department say a deer hit the car? What?

Anonymous said...

All these questions for Bernie. Wish you had help from some of the "reporters" from the Morning Call or Express-Times, but I dont think they do any true investigative work anymore. They will jump all over an anti-Ron Angle story, but the silence on potential corruption and cronyism by Mayor Callahan is deafing.

Keep up the pressure. This is an important issue that should be looked at by at least the City Council, if not the AG.

Anonymous said...

I got to hand it to you -- this was a really interesting post.

Anonymous said...

"The police cruiser also sustained heavy damage."

How did the cruiser get repaired and who paid for it? Did the department say a deer hit the car? What?

4:41 PM
Anonymous Anonymous said...

All these questions for Bernie. Wish you had help from some of the "reporters" from the Morning Call or Express-Times, but I dont think they do any true investigative work anymore. They will jump all over an anti-Ron Angle story, but the silence on potential corruption and cronyism by Mayor Callahan is deafing.

Keep up the pressure. This is an important issue that should be looked at by at least the City Council, if not the AG.

5:03 PM

Bernie,
If Callahan allegedly behaved in a corrupt manner as a small city mayor, imagine what's in store for folks when he gets to Washington!

Anonymous said...

Some additional questions:

Legal ramifications for the parties involved? There are probably criminal statutes that could come into play.

Is there still potential liability to the City? Additional costs down the road?

Anonymous said...

Bernie,
Thunder Above. Callahan has been gifted with charm galore, gorgeous hair and a smile that continues to wow a crowd. Never allegedly would he have needed to be corrupt. He could have so easily said to Dino "You're on your own. Folks trust me here. I will not cover this up."

Anonymous said...

Hey Bernie ask the Sheriff about the accident.

Anonymous said...

The Dent campaign won't touch this with a 10 foot pole. It could encourage people to explore the rumor that back in October of either 04 or 06 Congressman Dent's mother was supposedly stopped somewhere in western lehigh county for a DUI which was never reported, no charges were filed, and she was driven home from the scene. Now for the record this is just a rumor, but Bernie I hope you investigate this with the same zeal as you did the Cantelmi rumor.

Bernie O'Hare said...

The example you provide just illustrates my point. In that case, charges were filed. There was no interference. There was also a news account of the incident.

In this case, it is three years later, and we're still waiting.

Anonymous said...

The current Nor co sheriff was the Bethlehem Chief of Police. Is this a cover-up involving John Stoffa?

Anonymous said...

Anon 1:33, Your complete partisanism and ignorance was just completely exposed. This isnt about Dent, or even about Cantelmi. This is about government corruption, cover-up, and hidden costs to Bethlehem taxpayers. All which clearly indicate that John Callahan is unfit to lead as Mayor, much less Congressman.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for the compliment. if this were a Dent news release, it would be better written and more informative.

Too slimy for them. They left the mud trough to you.

Anonymous said...

I got to hand it to you -- this was a really interesting post.

Welcome to the world of national politics. Dent's boys have it made with a Republican-operative blogger that would do anything to see Dent reelected.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Wow! I'm a Republican-operative blogger!

The truth is that I've alsways been a fanatic when it comes to transparency and accountability in government. Dent and Callahan have their agendas and I have mine - good government.

Anonymous said...

"Dent's boys have it made with a Republican-operative blogger that would do anything to see Dent reelected.

9:28 AM"

But, I thought the Soros buttboy declared Bernie is ignorant and irrelevant as far as the national scene?

Anonymous said...

"Welcome to the world of national politics. Dent's boys have it made with a Republican-operative blogger that would do anything to see Dent reelected."

"National Politics?" There's nothing "national" about urban Democrat government corruption and cronyism.

Peddle that crap somewhere else.

Anonymous said...

As a life long Democrat, I'll be voting for Charlie Dent in November. Even before Mr. Ohare broke this story about this so called alleged coverup, I believe that Mr. DENT WILL WIN IN NOVEMBER.
Voters and taxpayers are sick and tired of "the good old boy network" that Mr. Callahan has associated himself with over the years. Mr. Dent doesn't come with any baggage. I'm sorry to say a lot of Democrats will not win this year. Also, I would like to make a prediction to all lehigh valley ramblings readers, Your next governor will be Tom Corbett for two terms.

Anonymous said...

Who cares?!?!?!

Anonymous said...

Notice how the so-called "lifetime Democrats", are always on here talking about how they will vote for this Republican or that Republican. Really???

Bullshit!!!

Anonymous said...

"Bullshit!!!"

Notice that whenever a Callahan bloggoon reads something they cant retort, they revert to bad language. What it actually demonstrates though, are the merits of your own positions.

Anonymous said...

Anon 11:04,

Bullshit!!!