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Nazareth, Pa., United States

Friday, August 30, 2013

Gregory Contempt Hearing Continued a Week

Although Jim Gregory's contempt hearing was scheduled for today, it was continued until next Friday at 11 AM. Gregory asked for the continuance, telling Judge Zito he has funds to hire his own lawyer. He will remain incarcerated until the matter is heard. The probation office has lodged a retainer that will keep Gregory there, even if he makes bail.

People making their way to the courtroom had to pass through a gauntlet with Tricia Mezzacappa and IRA wannabe Michael Holmes catcalling those they dislike. That naturally included me. But when Mezzacappa began to taunt this time, I turned to her and said, "Willlllllllllbbbuuuuuurrrrrrrr."

While waiting for Judge Zito, Gregory kept turning around and staring at his ex, shaking his head. I was seated right in front of her and could see his malevolent stare. In an orange jumpsuit and shackled, he was as arrogant as ever.

Judge Zito had been on vacation all week, but ended it early because of this and other matters. Today, his primary concern was to ensure that Gregory had a lawyer. Some years ago, then President Judge Robert Freedberg ruled that defendants in contempt PFAs were entitled to a public defender if they applied or were incarcerated. The current President Judge, Stephen Barratta, has a different opinion. But Judge Zito was taking no chances.

He had two public defenders, Tony Rybak and Dwight Danser, and was ready to appoint one of them.

But before that happened, Gregory told Judge Zito he would provide his own counsel and had the money for one. He tried to imply that prominent Easton Attorney Gary Asteak would still represent him, but then read a letter from Asteak into the record that revealed, quite clearly, that Asteak is done with him, partially because he simply does not listen..

Gregory wants time for his lawyer to gather witnesses to refute five contempt citations that are "outrageous, outlandish, insane and incorrect."

After the hearing, Gregory supporter Mike Holmes was briefly questioned by two deputies about filming the proceedings or goings on in the hallway, which apparently was reported by an attorney. Holmes became very belligerent, and began insulting everyone.

Gregory was hollering out commands to Mezzacappa as he was carted away.

"What am I gonna' tell my boys?" he yelled on his way down the corridor.

"High School Drama" Results in Senseless Violence in Bethlehem Township

Scott Beckerman lives in a beautiful home in Bethlehem Township, within a stone's throw of Barnes and Noble Book Store and a Panera Bread. A registered nurse, he's the Director of a Nursing Home facility in Allentown. On a hot Saturday night on July 20, he was enjoying a rare evening at home. But that ended at 10 PM, when he was assaulted, right outside his home, by a gang of five mostly underage kids. Angry at his step-daughter, they had just texted her, "We're coming." Beckerman tried to shoo these kids away from his home. He was rewarded with a broken nose, fractured cheek, a collapsed sinus making it hard to breathe, knocked out front teeth making it difficult to eat and lower back pain that hobbles him a month later.

Wearing a tie and dress shirt in District Judge Joseph Barner's court room, an angelic looking Justin Mayberry, age 19, was bound over to County Court on aggravated assault and related charges after a preliminary hearing on August 29. He was represented by Easton Attorney Matt Potts, and sat silently in the courtroom as Beckerman and his 17 year-old step-daughter testified.

In response to questioning by Assistant District Attorney John Obrecht, Beckerman told Barner that when he heard a group off kids was coming for his step-daughter, he intended to send them on their way. When a car pulled up parallel to his driveway, he approached the driver and a passenger, telling them they had to leave. Instead, both of them punched him in the face, with the first blow knocking a tooth out of his mouth. After the third punch, he tripped and fell to the ground. That's when three more kids, including Mayberry, emerged from hiding behind bushes across the street. Some of them kicked at him while he was down. Others, including Mayberry, punched at Beckerman with closed fists.

Beckerman believes the kids scattered when he was able to struggle back to his feet. But his step daughter testified they ran when she saw her using her cell phone to call police.

"Thank God it was me instead of my daughter," Beckerman later said.

Brian Kirchner, the arresting officer who also serves as Freedom High School's School Resource Officer, denied after the hearing that drugs or gang activity was involved.

"It's high school drama," he said.

Three participants turned themselves into Township police on the night of the incident and confessed. The minors will be tried in juvenile Court on September 10. Beckerman would like to see them tried as adults.

Bethlehem Lawyer to Buy Bechtel Building

Centralized Human Services Bldg Ahead of Schedule
As time ticks away on John Stoffa's second term as Northampton County Executive, he has just announced the sale of Bethlehem's Martin J. Bechtel Building to prominent Attorney Justin K. McCarthy. Pricetag? $1.575 million. This sale is the final piece of the jigsaw puzzle enabling a centralized human services facility in Bethlehem Township for 18,000 consumers.

Located at 520 E Broad Street in Bethlehem, the Bechtel Building is a 29,000 sq ft facility, built in 1962, on 2.12 acres. It includes 95 parking places and was purchased by the County in 1993 for $763,000. Named after the first County Executive, it houses 70 human services workers.

It needs $1 million in capital improvements and repairs over the next 5-10 years.

Another piece of the jigsaw puzzle, the Governor Wolf Building in Easton, needs $3.3 million in capital repairs and improvements over the next 5-10 years. Its 173 human services caseworkers have complained about conducting supervised child visitation amid asbestos, lead paint and bat guano. It is largely inaccessible to between 25-35 disabled veterans, who visit every week. The County has 23,690 vets.

The Wolf Building was sold in May for $1.925 million to developers Mark Mulligan, David Dallas and Bill Vogt.

The $3.5 million realized from the sale of the Wolf and Bechtel Building is about $700,000 more than was projected when County Council and Stoffa first considered centralizing human services.

Executive John Stoffa has called a centralized human services building at 2801 Emrick Blvd. in Bethlehem Township a "golden opportunity to do something terrific" for the 18,000 people who need human services. Stoffa, who has devoted his career to serving them, has said, "Most of them have two problems. They're lonely and don't have enough money. They don't have advocacy groups. They don't have PACs. They don't have people speaking for them."

Stoffa stated that the sale "contributes to the revitalization of Bethlehem, and Northampton County will reinvest the revenue from this sale into the new Human Service facility." He adds that the sale will put the property back on the tax rolls.

Attorney Justin K. McCarthy, a fixture in Bethlehem for several decades, will move his offices from the stately Dodson Building at 528 N. New Street. The former headquarters of the Lehigh Navigation Coal Company is being converted into a 21-unit apartment building. Other Dodson tenants, which include the McHale and La Porta insurance agencies, will follow McCarthy to Bechtel.

The Agreement of Sale is subject to Northampton County Council approval. When fully enacted, closing would occur immediately, Attorney McCarthy will move into 2,200 SF on first floor and lease the balance of the building back to Northampton County until they vacate sometime prior to March 31, 2013. In lieu of rent Northampton County would continue to pay the utilities and minor repairs and maintenance.

Attorney McCarthy said, “I would like to thank Northampton County for its quick response and flexibility in accommodating our conditions of purchase in particular the sale and leaseback so that we can promptly move into the Bechtel building.”

One person is "disappointed" at news of the sale. Bethlehem DCED Director Joe Kelly complained to The Express Times that the City of Bethlehem was largely left out of the process. He suggested that the County should have considered demolishing the building. County officials are puzzled by Kelly's contention, and have produced emails showing that both Bethlehem and Kelly have been approached repeatedly.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Morganelli Slams Corbett Over Positions on Women, Marriage Equality

Northampton County District Attorney John Morganelli is eyeing run for Lt. Governor of Pennsylvania. Why? For one thing, he has problems with Corbett's leadership, and released this statement a few hours ago:

"Governor Tom Corbett once again has put his foot in his mouth and insulted Pennsylvanians. In March of 2012, Corbett told reporters that women could sit back and close their eyes when undergoing a mandatory ultrasound law for women seeking an abortion. This unnecessary, expensive (and since not medically necessary, probably not covered by insurance) procedure forced on all women seeking an abortion was justified by the governor because as he put it, it's "only" an external ultrasound.

Yesterday, Corbett tried to compare mature gay and lesbian couples who have been fighting for marriage equality with 12 year olds. This governor continues to use poor judgement and words to support his unpopular policies. Look to see a continued drop in the polls. "

WPFA Pulls Plug on Defamatory Radio Show

After seven days of defamation, invasion of privacy, criminal contempt of a Protection From Abuse Act Order (PFA), and witness intimidation of a PFA victim, Joe Timmer's WPFA has finally pulled the plug on Jim Gregory's radio show.

Yesterday's broadcast featured Tricia Mezzacappa, against whom a libel judgment was recently entered. I did not listen to the show. But readers tell me she took the opportunity to defame me on matters that have already been ruled as defamatory per se. Her treatment of Gregory's PFA victim was far worse and was an obvious attempt to scare her away and keep her from testifying against Gregory. She and Timmer's producer, Budd Williams, actually suggested that when a woman called the station to complain about the public disclosure of private information, she was stalking.

Mezzacappa has pursued this intimidation against a PFA victim on her blog, calling her vile names and discussing torture techniques.

This morning, board operator Budd Wlillams announced there would no show today or tomorrow. He offered no apology for the false information his station disseminated over seven hours. He expressed no regret for his own role in a seven-day libel lovefest. There was no retraction, no offer to make amends.

The person most culpable for this mess is station owner Joe Timmer. He should have pulled the plug the first day. Instead, his producer mocked a woman who complained about the invasion of her privacy. Twice. Timmer certainly should have been clued in once Gregory was arrested for his on air statements. Instead, he allowed someone on the air with two recent criminal convictions and a libel judgment. Did he think she was going to polka?  He's also archived some of Gregory's more offensive shows, including the one that got him arrested.

Update 5:15 PM: Sometime  this afternoon, WGPA deleted its archive of defamatory Gregory shows from the Internet. The station still needs to retract the defamation, make amends to the two women they hurt. Timmer should offer Gregory's remaining air time to Turning Point.

Wind Gap Pilot Wants Matt Cartwright's Job

Hailing from the economically depressed Scranton area, Congressman Matt Cartwright has devoted his career to fighting for the working man. Certainly more liberal than predecessor Tim Holden, he calls himself a "Roosevelt Democrat." So it should come as no surprise that a more conservative candidate would want to replace the first-term Congressman.

That would be Matt Dietz, a commercial pilot from Wind Gap who started out as a baggage handler. Although his flyer contains little detail about Dietz' background, it makes pretty clear that he is pro-life. Does this mean he opposes the death penalty?

He also tells us he's pro Second Amendment. What the Hell does that mean? I don't see any movement out there to repeal the right to bear arms. Does he supports goofs like Gilberton's Mark Kessler or West Easton's Tricia Mezzacappa? Does he advocate people packing inside government buildings? Does he support the right of the mentally ill to bear arms? Does he think the three people who were recently shot to death just a stone's throw from his home, during a meeting at Ross Township, had it coming?

Of all the issues facing this nation, I would think Diet's primary focus would be on improving our economy, not telling women what they can't do with their own bodies while simultaneously allowing men to walk around with bazookas.

He does have cute kids, and I look forward to confronting him on why he would place emphasis on abortion and gun nuts when we have so many real problems.

Nazareth (Middle School) Blue Eagles Scrimmage at Beca's Lil' Hawks


My grandson is playing this year for Bethlehem Catholic's equivalent of a middle school football team. They call themselves the "Lil' Hawks." Marketers would tell them to come up with some other moniker than "Lil'", like "Swift Hawks" or "Deadly Hawks." But the name is accurate. They are little. Not many of them, either. maybe twenty or so.

Early yesterday evening, before the lightness faded away, Beca's team hosted Nazareth Middle School for a scrimmage. The Blue Eagles. That's another name that needs a change.

They came in two buses. A never-ending line of at least fifty of them descended down onto the playing field, and some looked like they belong in the NFL. I thought the Beca time was in for a tough time.

They were, but so was Nazareth. Neither team was able to score against the other. Both had excellent defenses. Both could walk away proud.

The above video shows my grandson running for his life. I'd like to say I taught him all those moves, but fortunately for him, I am not biologically related to him.

I'm sure he slept well.

First real game starts next week against Dieruff. I'm told the football program there is vastly improved, and just beat up Northampton in a scrimmage.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Village View Park Construction Imminent

Engineer William Erdman  discusses SMI Billboard
Hanover Township's plans for a 25-acre park on the east side of Airport Road are about to become reality. Village View Park, first unveiled to Supervisors last year, will include four playing fields for soccer, lacrosse and field hockey. Two larger fields (108,000 sq ft each) can be used for professional and international events. The other two (75,600 sq ft each) are large enough for high school and NCAA games. Each of the fields can also be divided for youth tournaments.

There will also room for 210-220 parking spaces.

USA Soccer has approached Township officials, and is interested in funding some of the improvements at the site. Open space money from Northampton County, a gaming grant from Monroe County and land donations from the Lehigh Valley International Airport is what makes this park possible. Manager Jay Finnigan hopes eventually to extend the park to Weaversville Road, East Allen Township's Bicentennial Park and the five-mile long Nor-Bath Trail.

At their August 27 meeting, Supervisors unanimously approved a $835,452.94 construction contract with Livengood Excavators the low bidder on the project. Asked for a timetable, Public Works Director Vince Milite responded, "Quickly." He expects the park to be ready next Spring.

In other business, Supervisors unanimously approved a conditional use application for a 146.9 sq ft billboard near Route 22, requested by Specialty Minerals Inc (SMI). The billboard will be lit up at night by two spotlights, and is designed only to market the company.

Leon Nigohohosian, in house counsel, testified that Specialty Minerals, Inc is a division of Minerals Technologies, a billion dollar corporation. Marketing, Research & Development and counsel are based at the Highland Avenue facility.

"We're trying to get a corporate identity," he explained. "People do not know who we are, what we do."

William A Erdman, from Keystone Engineers, assured Supervisors that the sign, located in the middle of an industrial park, will have no impact on any residences.

SMI, represented by Easton Attorney Steven N. Goudsouzian, already obtained a permit from PennDOT for the red and black non-reflective sign that will only be visible from the highway.

Finally, in response to a flood of emails and phone calls, Manager Jay Finnigan announced that "Trick-or-Treat Night this year will take place on Friday, October 25. "We might have to start scheduling this at our reorganization meetings in January," he joked.

A Tale of Two Hanovers

This is a tale of two Hanovers. Hanover Township, Northampton County received two truckloads of road salt in July that Public Works Director Vince Milite never ordered. After an exhaustive investigation, he determined that it was actually intended for Hanover Township, Lehigh County, and sent it on its way. But he's now wondering why any township would order road salt in July. "Hanover Township, Lehigh County must know something we don't," he told Supervisors at their August meeting.

Jim Gregory, Political Prisoner

The policeman of love, Jim Gregory, has had the book thrown at him. Judge Paula Roscioli has set bail at $2,500 on each of five contempt citations filed against him late Monday afternoon by his ex-girlfriend. Gregory is charged with thumbing his nose at the terms of a July 3 Protection From Abuse Act Order that bars him from all contact with her, both direct and indirect. A hearing is scheduled for August 30 at 11 AM before Judge Leonard Zito. Unable to post bail, Gregory is in jail.

Gregory has previously been convicted twice for criminal contempt of the PFA. Those convictions stem from attempts to contact his ex via phone text messages, blogs and Facebook. Gregory contended that someone else, possibly his nephew or Tricia Mezzacappa, was responsible. At that time, Tricia Mezzacappa launched a venomous attack against Judge Zito on her blog, accusing him of being too old for the bench, among other things.

After his second conviction, Gregory was sentenced to six months in jail, pending the results of a sealed psychological evaluation. He was released after three weeks, thanks to an impassioned pleas by noted criminal defense lawyer Gary Asteak. Gregory later said that Asteak had instructed him to break off all contact with Mezzacappa,

After his release, Gregory ignored his attorney's instructions. He started a radio show at Joe Timmer's dying radio station, and included Mezzacappa as a co-host for four of his seven broadcasts. He played love songs for his ex and repeatedly discussed the PFA, attacking his ex's mother as well as one of the witnesses who testified against him. On Monday, he began speaking to his ex directly, offering her a job, imploring her to come back to him. "Lina, not only are you cute, you're adorable. You have a great body, great heart, great soul. You'd be a great salesperson for us, and you also have office skills."

One of the contempt citations is based on this direct or indirect contact. Other citations are for about 20 unwanted telephone calls from him, as well as three letters he smuggled to her while he was in jail.

On his radio show yesterday, Gregory admitted to calling his ex accidentally a few times, but states he hung up right away. He claimed the letters were OK because he was under the impression the PFA was being dropped. He has no explanation for his radio message.

Gregory has blamed several people for his current mess, from DA John Morganelli to Bethlehem Mayor John Callahan to a Bethlehem police officer who supposedly has his eyes on his ex. He can tell that to Judge Zito on Friday. Hopefully, he'll call him Zito, not Ziti, like he did on Monday.

Timmer, of course, has no interest in being responsible. So my guess is that Mezzacappa will do his show today.

Hanover Solicitor Attempts to Muzzle Free Press

Before last night's meeting of Hanover Township's Board of Supervisors, Solicitor Jim Broughal cornered me to request that I stop taking pictures during meetings. In fact, he and Northampton County Coroner Zach Lysek intend to seek an emergency injunction against me on Friday.

"You can't muzzle the press!" I declared.

"I don't want to muzzle the press. I just want to muzzle you."

Apparently, one of my recent pictures of Broughal, published in The Bethlehem Press, has made him the laughing stock at the Y, where he exercises every day. Wherever he goes, whether it's his locker or a treadmill, there's a picture of him with his game face.

He also claims my picture of Coroner Zach Lysek, which appears in today's edition, makes his head look too big.

So the two of them want me banned from further photography on the basis that I'm a common nuisance.

Everybody's a critic.

I asked my editor to back me up, but he's already testifying for Broughal.

I thought I was improving.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Who Is Amanda Catherine Hein?

Princess in 2009, alleged murderer in 2013
Amanda Catherine Hein, who has been charged in the grisly bathroom stall slaying of her own newly born son, is certainly viewed as an evil monster. But is she? Originally from Coopersburg, she's a graduate from Southern Lehigh and attended Marymount Manhattan College and then LCCC.  She never finished her studies.

Somewhere along the way, she began abusing drugs. She worked at a local hospital, but was fired when she was caught stealing drugs. Her must recent job was with a dog shampooing business.

She developed an addiction to heroin, but reportedly kicked it a year ago.She was a habitual marijuana smoker, and suffered from depression.

She has already two abortions before resorting to infanticide.

On her Facebook page, back in 2009, she penned an apology poem called "Sandwich."


I heard your heart breaking
from the next room.
before I spoke, even,
your tears hung humid
in the apartment's atmosphere.
The apologies stuck
like peanut butter to my tongue
and all the spitting could not
unstick them.
So I spread "I'm sorry"
on toast, with blackberry jam.
And served my penance
with your lunch.

Unfortunately, she'll never be able to deliver an apology sandwich to her son.


As I told you yesterday, Judge Paula Roscioli has issued five bench warrants for Bethlehem Mayoral candidate and political opportunist Jim Gregory. They are based on five contempt citations filed by his ex-girlfriend yesterday afternoon, claiming that he has violated a Protection From Abuse Act Order (PFA) under which he is barred from any contact, direct or indirect, with his ex-girlfriend..

As of 10 PM last night, Gregory remained at large, and was blaming me and everyone else for his latest predicament.
OHare or someone else has been posting as me as they have done on West Easton blog and forcing these complaints. I don't even see or call the girl or her friends, yet she continues to file contempt complaints. My assumption is that Mr Callahans campaign or my exes latest 'friend'. A BPD detective, is behind this harassment.

I warned you John[Morganelli], if you guys go negative or you use Lina to try to put me in jail, I would be Unrelenting. I'm not Willie. I will return fire and fight fire with much, much more fire. So be it!!!
Actually, the latest series of contempt charges have nothing to do with his Facebook rants or anonymous comments on a blog. They have everything to do with him and his own direct conduct.

While in jail, he smuggled out three letters to his ex through fellow inmates, asking her to do things like water his garden and telling her she can use his blue casino card. Once he was released, he began a pattern of calling her from his new cell phone. She accepted one call and hung up when she recognized his voice. She has received twenty more calls from that number. One of her friends called back, and Gregory answered.

Finally, there's his disgusting radio show. Instead of being the mouth that roars, my readers aptly observe that he's been the mouth that bores.  One way he has done that is by incessantly discussing his ex, his ex's mother, his PFA and the witnesses who testified against him. As nauseating as it was, he avoided speaking directly to his ex.

Until yesterday.

His ditched West Easton wingnut Tricia Mezzacappa as his co-host yesterday in favor of  his dog. But like Mezzacappa, the dog could be heard barking and panting throughout the show.

He begged for calls, but when he finally got one, from Tricia Mezzacappa no less, he refused to take it.

"I don't care about my call, I want to finish my article. Budd's [WGPA producer Budd Williams] screwing everything up here. He's got me all discombobulated. Please get out of here Budd, thank you [door slams]."

He instead chose to cry crocodile tears about veterans, though he himself never served a day in the military.

He also displayed his anti-Semitism, as he did on his very first show. He complained that Attorney Leighton Cohen won't contribute to his show, "but he's Jewish and we all understand what that's about." 

He slammed Judge Craig Dally for daring to sentence a convicted child rapist to 29-58 years in prison. And he referred to Judge Zito as "ziti" again, just as he and Mezzacappa were doing on her blog before he was jailed.

Then he finished the show off by defying the PFA Order and using the airwaves to speak directly to his ex. It was not me, not DA John Morganelli, not Bethlehem Mayor John Callahan. It was him speaking directly to his ex.
"I'm going to run right down my Facebook post that Harvey wanted me to use. The name of the song for Lina, Angelina, which Honey, I totally understand if you listen to it, you're right. I gave you everything you wanted except for my heart. I didn't do that. I apologize. You deserve that. If you come back, you'll get it. Aside from praising Bernie, I have to say, Lina, I need you back. I know Trish will kill me for that. I have three businesses now. We have an offer of an Allentown office, and I need you to help run that office. I will pay you. I need you to manage the office. Keep the PFA on me if you want. That was a joke from the first place. I'll have my accountant set you up. It's his office. You won't have to see me unless, of course, you go to WGPA on the Internet and stream me every morning from 7 to 8 o'clock. Yes, we have time for a commercial. You always said, Boo, that you had these office skills, and because you're so damn cute, you'll be our marketing director. Seriously. Lina [redacted], Marketing Director. Why do you think all the drug companies use hot girls to sell their products to doctors? Duh. Here Doc, try this Viagra sample and see me later so we know how it works. How about midnight, Doctor? Lina, not only are you cute, you're adorable. You have a great body, great heart, great soul. You'd be a great salesperson for us, and you also have office skills. You can help Unity PAC and your PAC, Unity 108, take off the ground and you won't have to see me. Go to Jimmy Ricci, my accountant, and he'll set you up in an office, and everything will be fine, wonderful."
That comment, all by itself, earned Gregory a contempt citation from Judge Roscioli. He can't blame it on anyone but himself.

In addition to the contempt citation, Mezzacappa must be livid. There she is, trashing people for him anonymously and getting up early to go on his disgusting show, and he offers to pay his ex to be his marketing Director when Mezzacappa is looking for a job. She has expunged all Gregory references on her blog. Poof! Even the piggy videos. I tried calling her, and all I heard was "Willlllburrrrrrrr!"

But the person who really needs to be held accountable is the one who made it all possible. Not-So-Jolly Joe Timmer.

Timmer knew Gregory had just been released from jail. He knew that Gregory would try to reach out to his ex. Not only did he allow this, but he had his producer spinning love songs for her. He knew Gregory would defame everyone and did not care. He allowed Gregory to invade the privacy of an innocent person, and when she called Timmer to complain, she was trashed on the air even more.

Timmer needs to get on the air at 7 AM today and apologize for the nonsense that he permitted. He needs to apologize to Judge Zito, Judge Dally, DA Morganelli, Mayor Callahan, Jerry Seyfried, Ron Heckman, Ken Kraft, Peg Ferraro and numerous others.

He also needs to apologize for Gregory's anti-Semitism, which was displayed both yesterday and last week.

And Budd Williams, Gregory's incompetent producer, should "man up" and apologize for his role in this sordid affair.

Arbitrator: Brutal Cop Deserves One Last Chance

Grady Cunningham on the range
Though Fountain Hill's Borough Council voted unanimously to file a police officer who used excessive force, and then lied about it, arbitrator Steven N. Wolf has ordered Officer Grady Cunningham, Jr. reinstated. Why? Did he find that Grady's use of force was appropriate? Did he conclude there was no lying? Did he exonerate Grady? In a word, No. But he gave him his job back.

Pursuant to a Right-to-Know request, I obtained the 18-page decision. Wolf conducted three days of hearings and four "study" days, all at $1,800 per day. His total bill comes out to $12,600, half paid by the police union and half by the Borough.

In this decision, Wold concludes that Officer Cunningham did use excessive force. He founfd that he was deceptive in failing to report the incident, and violated policy in entering a holding cell with his firearm. Though Cunningham played the race card, the arbitrator found no evidence of racism. But because it has been his "lifetime goal" to pursue police work, the arbitrator thought he'd give him one last chance to do so. He loses no seniority, either.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Allentown Woman Charged in Starter's Pub Infanticide

Coroner Zach Zysek: Baby was a health boy
A 26 year-old Allentown woman, Amanda Catherine Hein, has been charged with the infanticide of her own son, right after giving birth to him in a toilet stall at Starters Pub in Lower Saucon Township on August 18. Northampton County District Attorney John Morganelli was able to explain what happened at a Monday afternoon news conference, but not why. "I can't get inside this lady's head," he remarked, but she "made a very, very bad choice. Whether it's an hour old or a minute old, a person's life was taken."

Here's what happened, as determined by an investigation spearheaded by Lower Saucon Police Officer James Connell. On August 18, Hein was with three male acquaintances to see a Pay Per View event at Starters. She began to complain of back pain and left to use the rest room. Her friends became concerned because she was gone for forty minutes and did not answer their text messages. When she returned, companion Louis Rivera noticed that she appeared to be wet and thought it could be blood. He repeatedly asked her if he could take her to the hospital, but she declined. She did go outside for a smoke, and then returned to watch the remainder of the Pay Per View without telling anyone what had happened.

She had never told anyone that she was pregnant.

In a toilet stall, she delivered a 33-36 weeks old healthy boy, wrapped him in a plastic trash liner retrieved from a trash can, and slipped him into the toilet tank well while he was still alive.

The baby's body was discovered the next day when Starters staff cleaned the rest room before opening.

According to coroner Zach Lyseck, who ruled the death a homicide, the baby suffocated.

Hein admitted to wrapping her newly born son in a plastic trash bag and placing him in a toilet tank well alive. She's been charged with homicide, and could face the death penalty because the murder of anyone under age 12 is an aggravating factor. But Morganelli stated that decision will be made later.  She is being held without bail after a preliminary arraignment before District Judge David Tidd.

Lyseck pointed out that every hospital in this area has cradles where mothers can drop off new born infants, no questions asked.

Updated 7:16, to reflect preliminary arraignment before Judge Tidd, as per The Express Times.

Five Warrants Issued For the Mouth That Roared

Judge Paula Roscioli has issued five arrest warrants for Jim Gregory, the love-sick politico who has given Jolly Joe Timmer $3,000 so he can continue wooing his ex-girlfriend on WGPA. These warrants are based on five separate counts of indirect criminal contempt of a Protection From Abuse Act Order (PFA) ordering Gregory to refrain from all contact, direct or indirect, with his ex-girlfriend. Gregory has already been convicted twice of criminal contempt for defying the PFA. I'll have details at the witching hour.

No Veggie Gardens For Our Growing Underclass

Last week, I told you about a single mother whose car was stolen while she slept. Though she got it back, she had to pay a hefty storage and towing fee. If she wanted Allentown police to do what they presumably are paid to do, and actually try to solve the crime, she'd have to pay to keep it in storage even longer until they got around to sending a fingerprint team. This would be no trouble to many people who drive better cars with collision and comprehensive. They could just keep their rental and let police work at their leisure. But for the working poor, a crime like this will go unsolved.

This is not the exception, but the rule. Take, for example, the story of Mr. A, a 78 year old newspaper delivery man who was mugged in 2008 while delivering a newspaper to then Congressional candidate Sam Bennett's Allentown home. He was ignored by The Morning Call newspaper and police, even when he spotter his mugger at the Hotel Traylor lobby and called them. I guess he's not important enough.

I'm sure that most of you can tell me horror stories, too, especially in Allentown. Even in our approach to criminal justice, we are slowly becoming a nation intent upon keeping the working poor down. We discourage any attempt by people to dig their way out.

This is the problem noted by thinking conservatives like Vic Mazziotti, who question why we waste  $220,000 in federal funds for 1-BR apartments at Cumberland Gardens, when that money could be put to such good use in restoring the dilapidated housing in block after block of the Queen City. Thinking liberals in Northampton County actually agree that the entire system is broken.

It has nothing to do with ideology. It has everything to do with layer after layer of bureaucracy, from federal administrators to Allentown police.

Don't believe me?

Consider the story of a 4 year-old girl in South Dakota. She lives with her mother, who receives $628 a month on some sort of disability. They are in subsidized housing. The little girl decided to grow vegetables on some unused land next to the projects, and you'd think it was a crack house. The property management company has given her a week to take it down ... or else.

Although the feds are pointing to the property management company and the property management company is pointing at the feds, it is pretty clear that our system is increasingly becoming one that designed to prevent the poor from clawing their way out. It's not intentional. It's just what happens when bureaucracies become bloated and spend more time currying favor with power brokers than in attempting to do their job.

This is a criticism conservatives have made for years, but the bureaucratic backlash is always to assail them for hating the poor. Maybe the people who really hate the poor are those who spend $220,00 for a few 1-BR apartments while doing nothing about our real affordable housing problem. Maybe it's those who do nothing for the crime victims who can least afford the losses they suffer.

Dent Town Hall Coming to Kutztown

Blogger Chris Casey reports that LV Congressman Charlie Dent will conduct a Town Hall today, 1 PM at the railroad station in Kutztown.

Pink Heals: A Firefighter Homage to Women

The Pink Heals Tour raises awareness of the illnesses that afflict women.
Arizona-based Pink Heals and their pink firetrucks rolled into St. Luke's Anderson Campus on a late Summer Saturday to raise money for the Cancer Center. In addition to firetrucks galore, there was food, T-Shirt sales, artwork, balloons, face-painting by Dazzleberry, and of course, the cha cha slide. "Every time you stomp to the left or stomp to the right, you're helping stomp out cancer," a DJ told the enthusiastic kids.

Firefighter Bill Andress plans a local Pink Heals Chapter
The next day, Pink Heals was in Nazareth, this time to raise money for people to register for bone marrow transplants.

All money raised by Pink Heals goes directly to some organization that helps women, not to any volunteer firefighting company. Nancy Run Firefighter and Safety Officer Bill Andress, who with his wife will soon form a Pink Heals Chapter here in the Lehigh Valley explained. "Women are the foundation of everything," he stated. "It's not just breast cancer, but all illnesses that affect our women." In Nazareth, for example, the pink firetrucks topped to help raise money for bone marrow registrations.

The Pink HealsTours, which itself is a group of volunteers founded by Dave Graybill, left the Lehigh Valley for Rhode Island. From there, they will slowly go South, finishing in Bayton, TX in early November. Over five years, they have enlisted the support of approximately 4,000 communities.

Their trip to the Lehigh Valley also included fundraising at Applebees along Rte 191 and at The Keystone Pub.

Kelly sisters Paige (age 5), Faith (age 6) and Alexus (age 8) are used to firetrucks. Their Mom is a volunteer in Fremansburg 

Matias Vasquez, age 6, gets a balloon from Bandaid the Clown

Remik sisters Olivia, age 5, and Addy, age 3, love their makeup

The silver ribbon signifies disabilities and ovarian cancer, 

Friday, August 23, 2013

Gregory Defends Ftn Hill Police Brutality, Child Rape and Corruption

This will be my last report concerning Jim Gregory's radio program, in which Tricia Mezzacappa was his guest for a fourth day in a row. Today's show was supposed to be devoted to trashing West Easton government, until Gregory decided the topic is too boring and that nobody cares. The production is so lousy that you could hear Gregory and Mezzacappa plotting before they knew they were on the air. They were trying to decide whether they want to discuss Ron Angle's tax returns, something neither one of them has ever seen. They ultimately decided to embrace the bad guys.

Michael Solomon is a former Glenn Reibman operative who took kickbacks from Northampton County vendors and spent time in Club Fed. "I love the guy," claimed Gregory, who wants him on the air as a guest. He "got screwed." and "did a great job with the County."

Gregory also defended "our poor friend, Mike Piper," who was recently sentenced to 29-58 years in state prison for repeatedly raping a 12 year-old girl over two years.  It was "her word against his," claims the woman beater. According to Gregory, the poor guy had a tainted jury, a lousy lawyer and even lousier judge. "Craig Dally has no idea what he is doing on the bench and is some kind of joke," pontificates Gregory, who says the long sentence is a direct result of my blog, for some reason.

They also defended the Fountain Hall police officer who was fired by an unanimous borough council after he was caught on video roughing up a petty criminal, and then lying about it. He was ordered reinstated in a binding arbitration that finds the officer did use excessive force and did lie. According to Chief Ed Bachert, this destroys community trust. His sentiment is shared by most police officers.

I broke this story, which drove both Gregory and Mezzacappa nuts.

"Bernie O'hare is picking on the Fountain Hill Police Department. When you pick on one police department, as a former police officer, you pick on all. You better have a good reason. This guy was exonerated by an arbitrator, which means he wasn't guilty.They found that he wasn't guilty. They put him back on the force. Thank God, officer. Thank God we have you there."

Gregory is a former police officer, but fails to point out he was fired for taking very long breaks while on the night shift.

Mezzacappa adds that the hapless drunk "probably deserved the takedown." Gregory adds of the video, "So what!

Gregory did get a call from David Brunner, a talent agent who is obviously connected with station owner Jolly Joe Timmer and carrying water for him. Good boy, David.. Brunner, whom I've never met, trashed Bill White, something I believe he did a few years ago anonymously. He also lit into me, hoping to get a bone or two thrown at him

Gregory also decided to slam Easton mayor Sal Panto for the first time, for devastating Easton's finances. Mayor Sal has been able to keep Easton in the black and is in his second term without a tax hike, a somewhat remarkable feat in that distressed but proud City. But Mayor Sal is no good, claims Gregory.

There was also an attempt made to bait DA John Morganelli, Bill White and yours truly into coming onto the show. "Morganelli has no balls," claims the woman beater.  Producer Budd Williams says I should "man up." They even got fellow craZy Mike Holmes to pledge to pay the $200 for a show featuring me.

First, Timmer already owes me several retractions. Second, I refuse to be involved in anything that enriches that greedy man. It would have to be free air time. Third, I would never appear on a show with Gregory or Mezzacappa unless I had $1,000, in advance, for my time. And then I would tear the Mensan apart.

What bothers most are not the attacks on me,  John Stoffa, City mayors or police who track down pedophiles  What really gets to me are the vicious smears on someone I call a civilian, Gregory's ex girlfriend's mother. She is a simple person, not someone in the limelight or used to it.

A former mental caseworker and station producer Budd Williams, both of whom should know better, trashed her on the air again today.

Once again, they disclosed private health matters about her that are not matters of legitimate public concern in a clear invasion of her privacy, without her consent. They did so despite her calls to the station and discussions with both station owner Joe Timmer and producer Budd Williams, asking to be left alone. In fact, they mocked her for calling in to complain.

So a week has gone by, and though there's been a lot of name calling, Gregory and Mezzacappa have failed to expose any corruption anywhere. They are too busy talking about themselves and trying to fool good people into giving them money so they can promote themselves even more.

In five days, I do think they've established one thing very clearly. Neither of them should ever hold any position of power or trust. Neither should ever be permitted to speak for us.

Are You Ready For Some Football?

After years of watching my grandson play at the lower levels, it was a treat to watch him in his first scrimmage today with the Bethlehem Catholic Little Hawks. They played Notre Dame's Crusaders at Beca's practice fields.

When I was his age, I was on the sidelines. Five years later, I was still on the sidelines. The first time he touched the ball, he took off and scored. Fortunately for him, we are not biologically related.

Deb Hunter on Northampton County Issues

Deb Hunter, a Democrat, is one of ten candidates seeking five seats on Northampton County Council this November. A teacher in the Northampton School District, I have been especially touched by her deep concern for neglected and abused children. She first ran for County Council four years ago, and nearly made it, but Democrats were swept out of office at that time. Now the pendulum is swinging the other way.

A graduate of the County's inaugural Citizen Academy,Hunter is a regular attendee at Council meetings and served on the Gaming Board. In addition to her teaching jib in Northampton, she lived in Nazareth and moved more recently to Bethlehem. This gives her more familiarity with the County than most of us.

Below are her answers to a questionnaire I prepared for all ten Council candidates. I am not trying to trick anyone. Jerry Seyfried was the first to reply. Because of some vicious personal attacks that were made, I thought he might be the last.  But I received answers from Hunter today, and Seth Vaughn is working on them.

Because some people have been hostile to candidates, I will not permit any commentary with these questionnaires.

By way of full disclosure, I have already decided tentatively that I am supporting Jerry Seyfried, Ron Heckman, Deb Hunter and Peg Ferraro.

1. Lehigh County Commissioners and Bethlehem City council have both toyed with the idea of rejecting pass through grants based on objections to the federal deficit, money owed to China and antipathy to charter schools. Would you reject pass through grants?

ANSWER - No, I would not reject them. While there may be stipulations or funding calculations within them that I do not agree with, as in the Cumberland Gardens case for Lehigh County, in general I would want to get as much funding coming into the County as is offered.

2. Most of Council's work is done at its busy Personnel and Finance Committees, at which every member of Council is encouraged to attend. How do you feel about participation at Council Committee meetings? Will you attend?

ANSWER - They are imperative to learning the intricacies behind the operations of the county and are key to formulating the County’s priorities for short and long term planning. I plan to attend as many as I possibly can.

3. One candidate has rejected the concept of regionalism as one big mess that is harder to manage than a group of smaller messes. Do you support or oppose regionalism, and what regional projects would you endorse on Council?

ANSWER - I disagree that regionalism is a mess and hard to manage. In fact, joining with other counties to find efficiencies and cost savings that benefit each other should be something we seek out when practical. I would judge each potential project on its ability to achieve those criteria.

4. During the Executive primary, one candidate made a no-tax hike pledge. Do you think it is responsible to make no tax-hike pledges? If so, are you willing to make one?

ANSWER - I think it is irresponsible to make a “no tax” pledge. To potentially hamstring the county based on political popularity is not leadership. It is up to the executive and council to try to use the public monies as efficiently and wisely as possible to fulfill the services the county provides and to maintain infrastructure. When all avenues have been explored and creative solutions exhausted, if there is still a need for funding then it is up to the executive and council to educate the public as to why these monies are needed and the ramifications if they are not received.

5. In a 2011 plebiscite, voters told Council not to sell Gracedale for 5 years.The annual County contribution is currently in the $5-7 million range, so voters effectively voted for that contribution. But what if it grows? Is there a red line at which you would agree it is necessary to sell Gracedale?

ANSWER - Any line drawn at this point would be arbitrary and carry too many assumptions. The voters have made it clear this facility is a priority for them and to play a guessing game about it would be disrespectful to all involved.

6. In 2007, County Council voted to set aside 1/2 mill of real estate tax (about $3.5 million) for a pay-as-you go open space plan for preserving farmland, environmentally sensitive land and municipal parks. On Council, will you vote to continue funding open space? Do you consider this a core county function?

ANSWER - While I think calling it a core county function is overstating things a bit, there is no doubt about the value of these programs. Again, the voters have spoken loudly and clearly about their preferences here. Agreeing to a targeted tax increase reflects their priorities.

7. There are 11 unions county-wide. What efforts would you make, as a member of council, to encourage unions to consolidate and reduce the amount of time administrators and unions must spend in contract negotiations?

ANSWER - If the unions would view this as a positive step to take, I would back the county executive if he wanted to approach them and saw this as more efficient but still fair.

8. What is your position on laying off County workers? Would you support layoffs to balance the budget, or vote to increase taxes to provide the same level of services?

ANSWER - Again, many assumptions would have to be made here. Too many variables are involved for this to be answered responsibly. This kind of issue should be beyond any ideology and based solely on the unique situation of every budget formulation.

9. Northampton County, like Lehigh, has privatized the management of Gracedale. But there are those who would like to return administration to the County. Where do you stand on this issue?

ANSWER - I think we need to give Premier a genuine opportunity to prove themselves and then assess their performance…period.

10. Some Council members would like to amend the Home Rule Charter to return to elected row officers. How do you feel about this proposal?

ANSWER - I believe this would be a mistake. As long as viable and fair hiring procedures are in place I want the most qualified person for the job, not the most politically popular.

11. Would you support a ban on guns by people using any County facilities, even off the courthouse campus, like at the new centralized Human Services Building?

ANSWER - Absolutely…and I felt like this BEFORE the Ross Township incident.

12. Will you support or reject a County Property Tax Reassesment?

ANSWER - As it would entail a large cost to the County at a particularly vulnerable time, I would say no. However, I think we need to come back to this question sooner rather than later as (as some Lehigh County businesses have found out) waiting too long can put a large financial burden on property owners.

13. Would you support the proposition that the Prothonotary, Clerk of Criminal Court, Clerk of Orphans Court and Register of Wills should be transferred under the Administration of the Courts instead of the County Executive (through the Director of Court Services) much like the higher courts currently administer its own clerks?

ANSWER - It would seem to make more administrative and organizational sense, yes.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Ross Marcus Heading to CACLV

From NorCo Exec John Stoffa to County Council:

This is to inform you that Director of Human Services, Ross Marcus has submitted his resignation from County employment effective Monday, September 16, 2013. His resignation is contingent upon County Council approval, in that his employment will be with the Community Action Committee of the Lehigh Valley, a subcontractor to Northampton County. (Please see the attached resignation letter.)

Ross has had one of the most difficult jobs, if not the most difficult job in the County. He has worked hard, has been extremely loyal to me and to Northampton County and has served Northampton County residents with disabilities well.

Since I am nearing the end of my term of office, I have asked John Mehler, Area Agency on Aging Administrator, to accept the position of Acting Human Services Director, which I will also submit to County Council for approval. There are so few people who, in my opinion, could do this job well and John Mehler is one of them.

If additional information is needed, please let me know.


John Stoffa
County Executive

Updated 10:30 PM: Jennings will remain Exec Director at CACLV. - Some anonymous commentary has suggested that CACLV Executive Director Alana Jennings is on his way out, and that Ross is being groomed as Alan's successor. While I know Ross marcus is deeply committed to helping people, Jennings is by no means ready to get off the saddle. And I, for one, think that's a good thing. I just sent him an email calling him a pitiful failure. I'm sure he'll agree. He's in a job where he probably can never win, but has helped so many lives and even some small businesses that it would take me days to list his numerous accomplishments. I will disagree with Alan about the NIZ or the lease, and hate the way he mingles with the rich and powerful, but he shakes them down better than most of us could. If you'd rather have someone titling at windmills or someone who can get results, I think you'd want the person who can get results. That is Jennings.

Jim Gregory Shows His Creepy Side

WGPA producer Bud opened today's Jim Gregory show with a rendition of  "In Heaven There is no Beer." In a not so subtle reference to my alcoholism, he dedicated that song to me. Not only did that get a good laugh out of Gregory and Mezzacappa, but it also gives me evidence of the station's malice in the upcoming libel suit. So thanks very much, Jolly Joe. The malice was just oozing over the airwaves, so much so that I needed a shower as soon as the program was over.

Gregory discussed prostitutes, his sex films with his ex, her mother, her mother's "mental health" disability, a cocktail waitress at the Sands (by name), his physical fights with his ex. It was creepy.

He actually admitted to domestic violence with his ex, but it's OK because he never won.

"Yeah, we had our physical skirmishes and otherwise, but she always, always beat the crap out of me."

Mezzacappa's penis fixation was on full display. It seems that every male who takes her to task for her outrageous behavior has no penis.

They both dumped on The Express Times. Mezzacappa complained bitterly about editor Jim Deegan, who refused to help her even though she had crocodile tears in her eyes.

"He has no idea who he's dealing with," she cackled, discussing her libel suit against the paper.

Mezzacappa claims that I am being paid by The Express Times. Two days ago, she said I was being paid by Bethlehem mayor John Callahan. She was also outraged that Morning Call columnist Bill White used a mass email that she sent to him and about 10,000 other people in a column.

In Gregory's case, he claims the paper ruined his blossoming romance with a Sands waitress who is trying to become Miss Pennsylvania. "I just looked into her eyes, like I did when I met [my ex]. ... Not only was she beautiful inside, but she was beautiful outside."

On his show, he named this poor young lady. As if that were not bad enough, he showed her picture on the livestream.

He then recounts how he gave her a $600 gold and diamond chain and set up sponsors to help her out in some beauty pageant. But for some reason, this attractive 20-something with a boyfriend wanted nothing to do with a guy in his 60s.

Go figure.

State police had to tell him to back off, according to what Gregory himself said

It must be all that bad publicity from The Express Times, claims Gregory.

Now he's hoping to have her come on his show as a guest.

During the show, Gregory defended former Bethlehem firefighter Jim Schlener, another woman beater who was fired for drunk driving while he had called in sick. Schlener's current girlfriend, according to Gregory, was following Mayor John Callahan and snapping pictures of him. That was part of her work for Callahan's opponent, Lamont McClure, who was running a nasty campaign against Callahan in the Exec race.

They tried to use those fairly banal pictures, which depicted Callahan sharing a brew with a few old-timers at some South side pub, against him.

Could you imagine what would happen if I was traipsing around Bethlehem or West Easton, snapping pictures of Gregory or Mezzzacappa?  They would charge me with stalking. In fact, even without me doing any of these things, Mezzacappa has made those claims.

Their one caller was Michael P. Holmes, a criminal defendant who was on the program as a guest just yesterday supposedly to expose Northampton County corruption. He instead complained about Deiter Brothers.

Today, he disguised himself as "Joe," but his voice was easily recognizable.

I don't think I can take much more of listening to this show. I'll probably listen tomorrow and then pack it in.

Reinstated Fountain Hill Cop to Return on Monday

Though a unanimous Fountain Hill Borough Council disagrees, it appears that a police officer they fired will be back on the job on Monday. Grady Cunningham, Jr., was fired after a police surveillance tape showed up roughing up a petty criminal. He was also deceptive when questioned about the matter. But he's been reinstated, thanks to a favorable ruling in a binding arbitration. According to Chief Ed Bachert and Mayor Jose Rosado, Cunningham has indicated he'll be at work on Monday, though the Chief said he won't be allowed to patrol for the time being.

Will Lewis from Channel 69 was there, too, and got Mayor Rosado to explain what was happening in Spanish, too.

How cool is that!

Will Borough Council appeal this binding arbitration? Though Council went into executive session to discuss the ruling, Council President Larry Rapp said they would not be coming out to take official action. Their Solicitor was absent, too. So an appeal seems unlikely, given the costs and hurdles involved in appealing a binding arbitration.

There was no public hue or outcry at tonight's meeting, though word is only now beginning to get out to the public.

Reaction is mixed. One person at the meeting told me that Cunningham helped her when her brother had a serious fall and was injured. But another resident said he had words with Cunningham over his driving.

I have told you about his checkered history, and want you to know that I have been unable to contact him. I have reached out to him on Facebook, but have heard nothing.

Tonight was the first time to visit Fountain Hill, and I loved it there. First, I love borough government because most of the officials involved are just there to serve their communities and have no ambitions for higher office. Though it was a workshop meeting ona hot Summer night, all but one Council member was present. President Larry Rapp made sure to seek public comment before every matter on the agenda, not because he had to, but because he genuinely wanted to know what people thought.

In a discussion of a $200 appropriation for a child abuse investigator in the DA's office, Council member Carolee Gifford, the sole Republican on Council, wanted to give more. "It's for a good cause," answered Democrat Helen Halleman.

Democrats and Republicans seem to get a long much better in borough government than they do in Congress.

Bethlehem Police OT Budget Being Handled Properly

The Express Times' Lynn Olanoff reports that Bethlehem police have spent their entire $100,000 OT budgeted for this year and need for money. Now as cRaZy as this might sound, that's actually a good thing.
Instead of creating a big OT buffer into a municipal budget, it is a good idea to set it a bit on the low side, and force department heads to come in and explain the need for an increase, justifying it to the governing body. In Bethlehem's case, it appears that police can explain why they have gone over their OT budget This exercise is infinitely preferable to a big cushion that can be spent in December.  

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Gregory: It's Not EZ Being a Mensa

From today's radio show: "In February of 1986, I took a Mensa-supervised test. My scores were 95 and 96%, which meant I was in the top 4% of the population as far as IQ. Now you have to be in the 98 percentile to be allowed to come into Mensa. So this year, I took the Stanford-Binet test, and I received a score of 132. Now my score of 132 says I am in the 98.4 percentile.It means i'm highly gifted. I'm considered to be gifted. I have the ability to think critically .... .

"It's not my fault I was born with this. It's like being gay. ...

"People with lower IQs, like the people who listen to Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck and Sean Hannity, it doesn't mean that they're not functional in their normal lives. I mean, like, look at Forrest Gump. He had an IQ of like, what was it, 40 or 50? He was very successful."

Fountain Hill Cop's Mantra: Fighting Solves Everything

His name is Liu Fang. He's from China, and was visiting the Lehigh Valley over the Thanksgiving Holiday. Deeply religious, he wanted to spread the Word. But the place he chose to talk about Jesus, Jelly Beans Southside Jam in Allentown, was less than ideal. Patrons complained about Fang's born-again fervor, and bouncer Grady Cunningham went to work. Fang was beaten to within an inch of his life and left in a puddle of blood. Praise be Jee-bus! Fang went on to get a $1 million judgment (2007-C-2459) he's never been able to collect. Cunningham went on to become a Fountain Hill police officer who was recently exposed on videotape, roughing up a handcuffed and shoeless petty criminal. Though he was fired by an unanimous Borough Council, a recent arbitrator's award says there's nothing to see here. Move along. Give this man his job back. Doesn't the FOP rock?

Despite a major civil judgment for brutality, Cunningham also works part-time in other police departments. Maybe they like the tattoo emblazoned on his forearm, saying "Fighting Solves Everything." Just the thing you'd want to see in a man sworn to serve and to protect.

Grady Cunningham thanks FOP for their support
Maybe that's why they overlooked his checkered history in both Lehigh and Northampton County before hiring him as a Fountain Hill police officer in 2010.

In Northampton County, magistrate dockets reveal that, in 1993, harassment and terroristic threats against Cunningham were sent on to County Court. Also in 1993, bad checks, forgery, receiving stolen property and unlawful use of computer charges were sent to court. But what happened on the County level is unknown. Poof! No record. It could be that he was admitted into ARD, a special program for first offenders, after which the charges are dismissed and sometimes expunged.

He still owes Northampton County $354.50 in costs for an old (1991) disorderly conduct conviction. The matter was referred to a collection agency, but he blew them off.

In Lehigh County Cunningham was charged with terroristic threats, harassment, disorderly conduct in 2003. Charges were downgraded to two counts of harassment and he was placed on six months probation and fined $600. He was later brought back to court on contempt charges for ignoring his costs, like he did in Northampton County, and he coughed up the dough rather than go to jail.

Lehigh County has always been better than Northampton County that way.

In addition to the criminal charges against a cop who believes that fighting solves everything, he has a history of domestic violence. In Lehigh County, Protection From Abuse Act (PFA) contempt charges were filed against Cunningham in 2003. That same year, a PFA was sought and obtained against him in Northampton County. Those PFA charges were eventually dropped by his battered girlfriend after a custody order was entered, assuring that his visitation with his son would be supervised.

Civil records also reveal that someone named "Grady Cunningham" is a bit of a deadbeat. I can't be sure this is the same Grady Cunningham who was born in 1971 and worked as a police officer in Fountain Hill, but let me list the details with the caveat that this could be someone else:
1995: $1,567.50 judgment (back rent)
1996: $4,910.22 judgment (back rent)
2004: $1700 judgment by People First FCU
2008: $3,561.20 judgment (back rent)
2008: $1,856.20 judgment (back rent)
2013:  In February, a $11,997.60 judgment (back rent)
Grady Cunningham should not be working as a police officer. Anywhere.

Guys like me give lawyers a bad name. I lost my license to practice in 1985 for unethical conduct as a result of my drinking, but believe me, that was only the tip of the iceberg. There was more. So much more. My dad spent a lifetime building up a good name, and I tore it down in seconds. I probably knocked a few years off the lives of both my parents. But I am the exception, not the rule. Most lawyers are, contrary to popular opinion, honest to a fault. They are members of a profession. Just as I was a bad lawyer who had to be taken down a notch, Grady Cunningham is a bad cop who deserves no rewards or breaks for roughing up a criminal suspect.

Like lawyers, most police officers are dedicated professionals whose ultimate goal is to help people. Take Fountain Hill Police Chief Ed Bachert, for example. Before being named Chief in 2011, he devoted a career to Allentown. With a Master's Degree in Public Administration, he basically ran day-to-day operations in during Mayor Afflerbach's Administration as an Allentown police officer. His was a voice of reason. He's a good cop, as are most police officers.

"We have to police ourselves and do the right thing if we want the trust of our community," Bachert told The Morning Call when Cunningham was terminated.

All too often, that wisdom is ignored by public sector union arbitrators. I expect to have the arbitration ruling soon, and when I get it, I'll share it with you.

Croslis Has No Involvement With Gregory PAC

On Monday morning, Bethlehem Mayoral wannabe Jesus Gregory told his radio audience that Matt Croslis was helping him form his Unity PAC, or whatever he's calling it. Since Croslis happens to be Lehigh County Executive, I questioned whether that was possible. As it turns out, it's not. Informed sources tell me Croslis actually declined to get involved with Gregory's machinations, and put it in writing. To Gregory. Twice.

Croslis must be a dirty, no-good liar, too.

Updated 9 am: I am still waiting for Gregory to expose Northampton County corruption. Today's show was focused on more technical problems, banging his head on a mike, babies like me and my "butt buddy" Bill White. He denied receiving any letters from Croslis. He dunned potential sponsors, including Abe Atiyeh. He complained that politicians are bought by businesses, but was reluctant to allow guest Mike Holmes discuss his problems with Deiter Brothers because they are a WGPA sponsor. I guess what he's saying is he'll sell out, too.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

No Livestream For Gregory's Radio Show

Jim Gregory's radio guest today was Wicked Witch of West Easton Tricia Mezzacappa. She repeated most of the accusations that led to my libel judgment against her. Jim Gregory and WGPA were obviously aware what she would say. Gregory actually encouraged her and participated in defamation in a matter in which a libel judgment has already been entered. Judge Edward Smith has previously ruled that many of the statements attributed to Mezzacappa are libel per se. She repeated nearly all of them on Joe Timmer's radio station over the entire one-hour broadcast.

I was able to hear the broadcast in Nazareth. But for some strange reason, the livestream was not working, so I have no recording. But Timmer does. He records every broadcast.

I intend to ask my attorney to sue both Gregory and Timmer.

Gregory still has no sponsors, but claims to have enough to keep the show going for three more weeks.

Freemansburg Avenue Widening Coming Soon

PennDOT's Heather Heeter
A plan to widen Freemansburg Avenue, along with its Route 33 intersection, is ready to start. The good news is that there will be no lane closures, except between 9 AM and 3 PM, and even then, there will always be one lane open in each direction. The bad news is that it will go on for three years.

PennDOT Senior Project Manager Heather Heeter advised Commissioners of what is being planned for the state highway at their August 19 meeting. The state highway department is coordinating its construction with widening being done by St. Luke's Hospital at its Anderson campus, as well as developer KRE, which is planning a 837-home village.

President Paul Weiss thanked PennDOT for keeping Commissioners abreast of the widening project.

In other business, Commissioners approved a loan package with Lafayette Ambassador Bank that will enable the Township to refinance $9.15 million in existing debt and borrow an additional $850,000 for sewer projects at an interest rate of just 2.35%. Solicitor Leo DeVito stated that the Township will be able to refinance an additional $4 million next year. This lower interest rate will save the Township $845,000 over the five year life of the loan, according to Finance Director Andrew Freda.

Commissioners also discussed plans to repair the roof at the Archibald Johnston mansion, located in Housenick Park. Commissioner Michael Hudak balked at the $250,000 price tag, as well as the timing. Although a $2 million trust has been established by the Janet Housenick Estate for park maintenance, Hudak is concerned that Trustees will refuse to reimburse the cost of repair. "I'm not going to take it out of our general fund and then hope we get reimbursed for this," he said, adding that he though the friends of Housenick Park would do some fundraising.

Commissioner Tom Nolan countered that if the Township applied to place the mansion on the National Register, grant monies would likely become available. "We can't let the mansion sit idle another five years," he argued.    

President Paul Weiss agreed that something has to be done to preserve the building. "If we don't do this,there may not be a building to go to."

Weiss suggested that he and Tom Nolan reach out to the Friends of Housenick Park to determine the best course of action, and Hudak agreed.

Vandalism at Township parks was another concern brought to Commissioners' attention by Manager Howard Kutzler. Bathroom stalls, the roof of the large pavilion, basketball rims, tennis courts and even the walking trails are being damaged at the large park by the community center. Someone even attempted to start a fire on the large pavilion's roof.

Kutzler suggested asking Community Center staff to patrol the park until it closes at 10 PM. Hudak added that lights should remain on after hours to discourage vandals.

Bethlehem Tp Reacts to Ross Tp Tragedy

CPL Brian Frantz and PTLM Jarod Knouss
In the wake of the Ross Township tragedy, in which three people were shot and killed during a municipal meeting, Bethlehem Township is taking precautions. "I don't think it's necessary," states a seemingly embarrassed President Paul Weiss. But this is one instance in which Township Manager Howard Kutzler played his safety trump card to ask for a police presence at meetings "until further notice."  Two men in blue, CPL Brian Frantz and PTLM Jarod Knouss, quietly kept an eye on democracy in operation.

An argument against a police presence at public meetings is that it chills free speech. But it did not chill Chetwin Terrace resident Wayne Kresge, who told Commissioners he's ready to sue unless they do something about the stormwaters cascading into his back yard from the bike path after every downpour.

Kresge will meet next week with Kutzler and Township Engineer Brian Dillman to review possible solutions.

Pink Heals Tour in Lehigh Valley This Weekend

If you see a pink fire truck on a Lehigh Valley Street this weekend, it's not your imagination. The "Pink Heals Tour" will be here to raise awareness and money for local people battling cancer, with a special focus on women. According to founder Dave Graybill, "We focus our labor of love on the women of this country and wage war on anything that may harm her starting with cancer!"

Pink firetrucks will visit St. Luke's Anderson campus in Bethlehem Township between noon and 3 PM on Saturday. Nancy Run Fire Company's Safety Officer, Bill Andress, states that there will be numerous other activities going on as well, from face-painting to clowns.

Here's the complete schedule:

Saturday, 8/24:

Applebees, Rte 191, Bethlehem, 8 AM - 10 AM, $7 flapjack breakfast.

St. Luke's Anderson Campus, Freemansburg Ave, Bethlehem, Noon to 3 PM

Keystone Pub, Easton Ave, Bethlehem, 5 PM - 7 PM

Sunday, 825:

Nazareth Borough Park, Noon - 5 PM

9/11 Memorial Flag Coming to Easton

Peter Cochran, a regular reader here, will be part of the honor guard welcoming the 9/11 Memorial Flag at Easton's Sigal Museum today. According to an Express Times story, this large flag will be presented about 2:30 PM.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Jesus Gregory

If you missed Jim Gregory's first ever show on WGPA Sunny 1100 AM, which based on one phone call seems like a safe bet, you didn't miss much. After a seemingly interminable time delay in connecting Gregory with his one and only caller, Tricia Mezzacappa, he then basically put her on hold. Instead of being the mouth that roared, as he had promised, he whined. At one point, he did compare himself to Jesus Christ.

His improbable guest was Allentown attorney Leighton Cohen, who recently represented Gregory's ex-girlfriend in the Protection from Abuse Act Petition (PFA) Petition that ultimately sent the not-so-shock jock to jail for three weeks. If not unethical, Cohen's decision was in very poor taste, diminishing both his former client and her claims. But Cohen was the one person who had anything to say. He probably prevented Gregory from crossing the line into libel territory.

Cohen claims to have handled "hundreds" of PFAs, and stated he thinks he is the first attorney to file a PFA in Lehigh County.

Gregory spent most of the time talking about PFAs, portraying himself as the victim of a mob whipped up by Bill White and yours truly. Judge Zito was likened to Pontius Pilate, while Gregory was Jesus Christ. I don't know who plays Barabbas.

When Cohen disagreed with Gregory's analogy, he told the barrister he won't be welcome back as a guest. He also pointed out that, as a Jew, Cohen doesn't understand.      

Gregory also stated that Cohen represented his ex-girlfriend "pro boner." ... "She was hot and he took the case," claimed Gregory.

"You can't talk about your case," Cohen warned him at one point.."You're going to end up exactly where you don't want to be."

Aside from one gold seller, Gregory had no sponsors. He dunned his radio audience for contributions to his UNITY PAC, which he claimed is being formed by Matt Croslis. That's funny. I though Croslis was Lehigh County Executive.

Although he dismissed Tricia Mezzacappa's call today, he vowed to have her back to call me a clearly dangerous and violent predator.

During his three weeks in jail, Gregory claims he saw first hand all the corruption in Northampton County from his perch in protective custody.

He also touched on the First Amendment. He complained that a blogger named Bernie O'Hare trashes Tricia Mezzacappa day after day, week after week, but nothing is done about it. "How comes I don't have protection under the First Amendment, but O'Hare does?" asked Gregory. He claimed that I've made up about 50-60 characters to destroy lives, but that Judge Zito unfairly dismissed Mezzacappa's PFA against me.

No corruption was exposed. No revelations of any kind, except that Gregory is the Messiah.

Arbitrator Reinstates Fountain Hill Cop Fired For Brutality, Lies

A Fountain Hill police officer fired for roughing up a suspect and then lying about it, has been ordered back on the force. On February 4, Borough Council unanimously terminated Officer Grady Cunningham, Jr., over the police brutality, which Cunningham attempted to cover up. Police Chief Ed Bachert supported the termination as necessary for community trust in his officers.  But Cunningham recently prevailed in a union grievance over the matter.

Though successful with an arbitrator, Cunningham has yet to be seen on patrol, fueling speculation that the matter might be appealed. Council members Larry Rapp and Helen Halleman declined comment.

A police video of the incident, published recently on YouTube, shows Officer Grady approach a handcuffed and shoeless Richard McLaughlin from behind, place him in a choke hold, spin him around and then throw him head first to a hard floor. He also appears to be taunting McLaughlin, though there is no audio.

At the time, McLaughlin was being processed for public drunkenness, harassment and disorderly conduct. He later entered a guilty plea to those charges and spent a few days in jail.

In April, McLaughlin sued both Cunningham and Fountain Hill over the incident, alleging that the police brutality is a violation of his civil rights. He is represented by South Whitehall Township Attorney Richard Orloski.

Cunningham has been employed as a full-time officer on Fountain Hill's shrinking force since March 2010. At their August 5 meeting, Borough Council terminated another officer who has been charged with drunk driving.

Military Charter High School Pitched in Bethlehem

Charter School Supporters (L to R): MAJ Charles Taylor, MAJ Nathan Kline, Karen LeBron and Brian Smith 
One small step for the Bethlehem School Board. One giant leap for Lehigh Valley students. That's the argument that proponents of the Advanced Military Aerospace Science Academy made during an informational meeting at Bethlehem Public Library on August 17. They are seeking public support for a military-oriented charter school next year. It needs the approval of Bethlehem School Directors.

Biochemist Brian Smith explained that a military charter school, the first of its kind in the state, would focus on leadership, discipline, respect, team work and a "leave no one behind" mentality. He envisions a student population of about 200, although no site has been selected.

Charter schools are public schools that operate under a contract, or charter, with a host district school board. They are managed by school boards established by a founding coalition. They tend to have more flexibility in teaching methods than traditional public schools, but are more accountable. Unlike public schools, students can choose to attend these schools.

"I don't get paid to look at drawers all day," MAJ Charles Taylor
Major Charles Taylor, who teaches a JROTC program in New Jersey, noted that a military academy would have uniforms. "I don't get paid to look at drawers all day," he explained. He added that a military charter school would teach students basic skills like looking at someone when he is speaking to you, and speaking in complete sentences.

Major Taylor added that even something as simple as drill teaches cameraderie, discipline, teamwork and leadership.

Curriculum will focus on Project Lead the Way, a Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) program.

But even Smith concedes a charter military school is not for everyone. "I haven't heard anything negative about it, except from my daughter," says Smith, a father of five. "She doesn't want to have anything to do with the military."