The Herald, Sharon, Pa.

Local News

July 18, 2014

Corruption case puts ex-youth leader in rehab program

PYMATUNING TOWNSHIP — The former commander of the local Civil Air Patrol squadron has been admitted into a diversionary program to resolve a criminal case, but the conditions of the program all but forbid his involvement with CAP, his attorney said.

James A. Vessella, 68, of 106 17th St., Pymatuning Township, has been accepted into Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition, a probation-like program, for two years.

If Vessella, who had been charged with corruption of a minor and unlawful contact with a minor, completes the program, the charges will be dismissed.

The Mercer County District Attorney’s Office said in court that Vessella’s age, lack of a prior record and the fact that Vessella is not accused of touching the victim factored into its decision to allow Vessella to enter ARD, said defense attorney Randall T. Hetrick.

No specific order was imposed concerning Vessella’s further participation in CAP, but an ARD condition forbids him from having unsupervised contact with anyone under 18, Hetrick said.

“I would think that (CAP involvement) would be almost impossible with that provision,” Hetrick said.

Vessella was suspended by CAP in December, following the filing of charges. A spokesman at CAP national headquarters at Maxwell Air Force Base in Alabama said Thursday Vessella’s membership expired in May, and that CAP had not been notified of the resolution to his criminal case.

Vessella joined CAP in July 2003 and achieved the rank of major. Along with being Mercer County Composite Squadron 122 commander, he was public affairs officer for the region that includes Mercer County, and was PAO of the Year for 2010.

Vessella was not paid for his CAP activities.

Hermitage police took the report of a 15-year-old girl – she’s now 16 – who detailed the deterioration of her relationship with Vessella. The girl was a member of Vessella’s squadron for about two years.

She testified in January that he would pull her aside to talk with her if she missed a meeting, and take her to McDonald’s, with her mom’s permission, to use the restaurant’s free wireless Internet service so she could study CAP drills and jargon on her computer, she said.

Vessella started bringing up the girl’s boyfriend, said he was cheating on her and that she should dump him, the victim said.

He also told the girl her boyfriend had given her an infection and that he had medicine for it, but that he had to come to her house to take it, the girl said. He also said he had a wash that she had to use on her vagina, but he would need to examine her first, she said.

Vessella told the girl he would show her a “slutty” movie, and offered to buy her a toy, which she took to mean a sex toy, she said.

Text Only
Local News
  • Sharon man 'stable' after being shot in his West Hill home

    A Sharon man was in stable condition this morning after being shot by one of several men he had let into his West Hill home, police said.

    July 23, 2014

  • GJR killer not eligible for parole, court rules

    State Superior Court on Tuesday reversed a local judge’s decision that the sentence for one of two men who killed a night supervisor at George Junior Republic, Pine Township, was unconstitutional.

    July 23, 2014

  • Duplicated files, former worker confesses

    A Mercer woman accused of stealing customer lists, billing information and other data from her former employer headed off trial Monday by pleading guilty to a charge of unlawful duplication.

    July 23, 2014

  • Starved house Vandals vent their emotions

    Vandals kept police busy Sunday and Monday nights at a home in Greenville where the Mercer County District Attorney’s office said a boy was starved and beaten by his mom.

    July 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • Couple, another man charged in thefts

    Pennsylvania State Police have filed charges of burglary, theft, receiving stolen property and criminal mischief against an East Palestine, Ohio, couple and another man in connection with two robberies in rural Mercer County.

    July 22, 2014

  • Taking stock Where’s the beef? Bull’s still missing

    Is it possible that an alien abduction took place in the Mercer area last week? A solid red, 2-year-old Watusi bull with 3-foot-long horns has been missing since July 14 with no trace of its existence left on earth.

    July 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • Buhl Day honorees

    The Buhl Day committee has chosen for this year’s celebration five honored guests whose volunteer work they feel best showcases the legacy of philanthropic work left behind by Frank and Julia Buhl a century ago.

    July 22, 2014

  • GC pair not hurt in accident injuring 2

    Two drivers were taken to a hospital after an accident at the intersection of state routes 965 and 173 in Worth Township, police said.

    July 21, 2014

  • WaterFire crowds WaterFire doused

    Sharon’s WaterFire wasn’t lacking either of its elements on Saturday. There was steady, day-long rain but the day concluded with the Shenango River ablaze.

    July 21, 2014 2 Photos

  • ‘Starved’ boy released from hospital

    A 7-year-old boy allegedly starved and beaten by his mother is out of the hospital and ordered out of his Greenville home by Mercer County Common Pleas President Judge Thomas R. Dobson.

    July 20, 2014

  • WaterFire walking tour Time traveling

    A group of more 50 people walked between the raindrops Saturday during an historical tour of downtown Sharon during the city’s WaterFire celebration.

    July 20, 2014 6 Photos 1 Story

  • News briefs from July 19, 2014

    Michigan man charged with assaulting girl here

    Sharon man charged with raping woman

    July 19, 2014

  • For sale Realty transfer tax hike headed for ballot

    Sharon voters will be deciding through a referendum whether city council can raise the realty transfer tax. Council gave first reading Thursday to an ordinance that phrases the question that will be printed on the November ballot.

    July 19, 2014 1 Photo

  • Bella recovering Vet: Dog lucky to be alive, should survive

    Although a veterinarian said an underweight dog found Thursday with a gruesome neck wound was lucky to be alive, her prognosis for recovery is good.

    July 19, 2014 2 Photos

  • Alleged hit-run driver arrested

    Sharon police said Friday afternoon they had arrested a man believed to have driven a vehicle that struck an 11-year-old boy Thursday and left the scene.

    July 19, 2014