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Nazareth, Pa., United States

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Morganelli to Convene New Grand Jury

DA John Morganelli
Northampton County District Attorney John Morganelli is convening a new Grand Jury, starting April 24, with a continued focus on unsolved homicides and official corruption. Morganelli said this new panel will work under the supervision of Judge Michael Koury. The chief prosecuting attorney will be Assistant DA Bill Blake.

The previous Grand Jury, first empaneled on March 29, 2012, worked on 30 different investigations during its two-year life span. "This, by far, was the most work done by grand juries that I have empaneled as District Attorney," he noted. He filed a termination report on April 16, at the same time he announced his intention to form a new Grand Jury.

Grand juries fell out of favor during the '60s, according to Morganelli, when rules were relaxed to allow prosecutors to file charges independently, without these charging bodies, through what is known as a criminal information.

But grand juries remain important, insists Morganelli.

"The Grand Jury represents one of the oldest tools utilized by prosecutors to investigate matters of public concern. As everyone knows, the Grand Jury has the power to compel testimony, offer immunity and obtain any and all records without probable cause."

The 1999-2000 Grand Jury

Morganelli was unable to convene a Grand Jury during his fist seven years in office, he explained, because he needed more full-time staff. Finally, in 1999, he had enough staff to justify a Grand Jury for unsolved homicides. That resulted in the successful prosecution of James McBride, who is serving a life sentence for the 1984 murder of his wife. It also resulted in a second-degree murder conviction of Joseph Strohl for the 1986 beating death of his North Catasauqua. The Grand Jury helped prosecutor Bob Eyer, now the Chief Public Defender, build a circumstantial case.

The 2010 Grand Jury

A second Grand Jury, convened in 2010, heard evidence in 14 different investigations, and solved three more old homicides. It focused a great deal of its work on the 1979 murder of Holly Branagan, a Freedom High School Senior who was found stabbed to death in her Bethlehem home. Thirty-one witnesses testified. Morganelli is hopeful that Bethlehem police may have sufficient evidence to file charges in the future, but the case is still open.

That Grand Jury also expanded its scope beyond homicide and into more complicated, white collar crimes. Its work resulted in the successful prosecution of the principals of Municipal Energy Managers, who bilked Bethlehem Township out of $832,000 in a streetlight scam.

The 2012 Grand Jury

This Grand Jury investigated the following matters:
  • Conspiracy to Commit Homicide charges against Franklin Barndt for the 2009 killing of Miguel Aponte at the Easton Cafe.
  • The successful prosecution of former Assistant Chief Public Defender Anthony Martino, who stole in excess of $200,000 from private clients.
  • The successful prosecution of Shawnta Carmon, who conned philanthropist Linnie Fowler out of more than $1 million.
  • Theft charges against investment advisor Richard Freer, who is accused of bilking clients out of more than $10 million. 
  • Nonprofit mismanagement at the National Museum of Industrial History, with finding forwarded to the state Attorney General.  


Anonymous said...

what happened to his nose?

Anonymous said...

When will you nominate him for sainthood?

Anonymous said...

There is one question in this and not directed to Northampton county? The question would be dirrected to Lehigh county and why has there not been the samething done in that county as of yet?

patent pending

Peter J. Cochran said...

Bernie although I have never been an employee of NC nor any other of Mr Hemstreets relatives,I have had dealings with TWO persons in this line up.While in the bail business and last a State Constable. I wish Mr. Morganelli would look at the Alice Hall murder again .I worked in this file from The Museum of Fine Arts of Boston .Old Peter.PS Aponta a waits like he was .Don't spend the money, So what?

Bernie O'Hare said...

Peter, There are still about three unsolved homicides (down from about 14). Morganelli and the cops are on every one of them. As you know from your line of work, there is no statute of limitations in homicide. The police officers I know have always treated even the cold cases very seriously.

Peter J.Cochran said...

Bernie, I understand ,no statute of limitation , I also think the McNeil that was to have shot herself in her Ford Pinto should be looked at. This woman was RIGHT HANDED and she was in a Ford Pinto with 357 Mag .holes from the left side AND she had been at ere parents home prior to this even BECAUSE her boyfriend was on drugs and playing Russian Roulette with her and scared her to whits end.I say this character shot her and the local cops were then of no certifications what so ever ,before 1980 and the grandfathering stuff. in the Townships .SHE WAS MURDERED BY HER Boyfriend and I will be my biggest paycheck on it --to any one,right now.PETER J. COCHRAN

Bernie O'Hare said...

What township?

Peter J.Cochran said...

Getting back to the Alice Hall murder, it was brutal. This poor librarian of a lady had her 'abdominovaginal' section carved up. This was a murderer that not only wanted her dead but wanted her vaginal area out of the issue for some reason! Who was this / Not- Clyde L. Hazelton! He loved her. Even though he was married to an invalid.I have my theories based on what I perceived to see during this issue.Mr. Morgangelli please look at this case.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Peter, that case is one of the ones the Grand Jury has reviewed. I have read news accounts from years ago and it still is under investigation, even though the suspect died over 10 years ago.

Peter J.Cochran said...

Bernie, I will look at a map wait, I took a sister to the police station later to attempt re-open this case and the officer opened a file drawer at the time . Out 946 ,Venue was Danielsville.

Peter J.Cochran said...

Bernie, was the suspect a librarian? REF HALL ;

Bernie O'Hare said...


Peter J.Cochran said...

Bernie, ON THE HALL murder , I told Chief of Palmer, Nick DeV. that Hazalton was Bi-Sexual and that his boy friend may have ....got a proxy to off her as she knew the boy's were stealing fine arts from the college out of the safe in the basement.My issue was that that heterosexuals never conspire to commit crimes with homosexuals and that was the other guy in the library.CLYDE WAS BI,thought I at the time . Egyptian Breast Plate gone to auction.These boys took it and other stuff.Somebody wanted her silent!

Peter J.Cochran said...

Sooooo mabay I was right 15 years ago, other Liberian? Again nobody listened,like the murder of an Easton Cop, Nobody listened.