Social media has been a boon to law enforcement, as an Ohio couple recently found out the hard way. John Morgan and Ashley Duboe are sitting in jail on $250,000 bail after the daft duo posted various photos on FaceBook of themselves playing with wads of cash allegedly stolen in a recent bank robbery. To Morgan's credit, he did use make-up to conceal the words "Loyalty's Thin" and "Betrayal's Thick," tattooed on his cheeks, but the FaceBook gaffe proved fatal.
A 50 year old, female attorney is behind bars, unable to post bail on a Lebanon County, Pennsylvania robbery charge. Kathy Laurino Yeatter is accused of robbing the Sunoco A-Plus Market on Routes 72 and 419 in West Cornwall Township on November 12, 2013. She was taken into custody without incident shortly after police pulled over her vehicle in response to a 911 dispatch.
As a criminal defense lawyer, it is a pet peeve of mine to hear people misuse the terms "burglary and "robbery." It is a common mistake for people to use these terms interchangeably, as if they are synonyms for the same crime. However, as any first year law student or police academy graduate can tell you, these are actually very distinct crimes not only under Pennsylvania law, but in all jurisdictions following English common law traditions.
There are usually a rash of crimes committed by costumed defendants at the end of October, but a 21 year old Pitt student go into the Halloween spirit early. Jonathan Hewson is accused of trying to rob a convenience store near his apartment in Pittsburgh's Oakland neighborhood, while wearing a Spiderman costume. When the costumed Hewson asked store clerk Bob Patel, "how much money you got?," Patel believed he was about to become a robbery victim. Patel grabbed a stun gun and chased Hewson out of the store. It was not hard for police to quickly apprehend the only guy in Pittsburgh, if not the entire state of Pennsylvania, walking around in a Spiderman costume. Hewson was lodged in Allegheny County Jail on $50,000 bail.
The classic retail theft scenario involves hiding items, and then walking right out the front door of a store without paying for them. Yet not all retail thefts follow this pattern. Under Pennsylvania law, one form or retail theft involves consuming or tampering with items in a store without paying for them. In German, there is even a term for such behavior, which is not surprising, as the German language seems to have a term for every concept. It is called Mundraub, which translates to something like "mouth robbery." Although, retail theft is legally quite distinct from a robbery, I still love the imagery evoked by the term.
In my many years of practicing criminal law in Pennsylvania, I have seen my share of unusual robberies, but never one quite like the case of Alex McGarvey, who stands accused of committing a robbery while impersonating a police officer. Harrisburg Police allege that the 28 year old Mechanicsburg man confronted a 67 year old man, who had fallen asleep in his car. McGarvey told the victim that he was a cop, and that the victim was under arrest. McGarvey then proceeded to run away with the man's wallet, and later used the victim's credit cards. To add insult to injury, McGarvey called the senior citizen victim "stupid," as he ran away.
Apparently, Penn State fans and students are not the only people in Pennsylvania who get drunk and rowdy in large crowds. At last Saturday's Kenny Chesney concert at Heinz Field, police arrested or cited 73 people in and around Heinz Field, while an additional 43 underage drinking citations were issued during a sweep of the parking lots. Police also had to break up at least ten large fights, which will lead to assault charges. This seems like a lot of violence for a style of music, which does not exactly lead to mosh pits and slam dancing. A total of 45 people were hospitalized for injuries and/ or alcohol overdoses, which dwarfs the hospital transports to Beaver Stadium even for late kick-offs, even though we draw significantly more people for Penn State football games than Heinz Field draws for any event.
Steelers offensive tackle Mike Adams was attacked by three men on the South Side of Pittsburgh in a failed car jacking attempt in the early morning hours of June 1, 2013. The robbers failed to steal Adams' truck, but one of the thugs stabbed him in the stomach and forearm before running off. Another one of the thugs pointed a handgun in Adams' face, but fortunately, was wise enough not to pull the trigger and add a second degree murder charge to the list of serious felonies, which the suspects will be charged with when they are tracked down. Adams is expected to make a full recovery and is in good spirits.
Harsh sentences for victimless crimes are usually unjust, while it is hard to feel any sympathy at all for someone like Richard Martinez, better known in Central Pennsylvania as the "Centre Hall Mountain Robber." From a legal standpoint, his case took some unusual turns, which are worthy of explanation. On May 5, 2012, the then 19 year old Martinez confronted four 14 year old hikers. He threatened them with a box cutter, ordered them to the ground, and stole three iPods. Just for good measure, he kicked one of the boys in the head, breaking the boy's eye socket. Martinez entered an open plea to very serious charges, including robbery and aggravated assault. Judge Pamela Ruest imposed an aggregate sentence of eight to 16 years.