The Herald, Sharon, Pa.

February 7, 2014

News briefs from Feb. 7, 2014

Herald staff

- — Police: Beware of calls from Dominican Republic

SHARPSVILLE – Police said reports of a phone scam that uses family members’ names to make the call sound credible netted thousand of dollars for someone in the Dominican Republic.

A Sharpsville man reported that someone called him from the Dominican Republic posing as a family member who was out of town and said they needed money to get out of jail, police said. Money was transferred to a phony name, according to police. More money was sent when a second call requested money to pay medical bills to prevent a warrant being issued for the family member’s arrest. When the family member returned to town they realized it was a scam, police said.

The man and his family member were advised by police to file a report with the credit bureaus, police said.

In a separate report, a Sharpsville woman reported she received a phone call from a female posing as a family member who was in trouble in the Dominican Republic. When the woman asked for the caller’s name, she hung up, police said. A week later she received another call from a male posing as another family member who was supposedly in trouble in the Dominican Republic. Again, the caller hung up when she asked for his name, police said.

Brothers charged with growing marijuana

SHARON -- Sharon police say cough drops wasn’t the product the local Smith brothers were selling, but marijuana they grew in the house they had rented.

Marques James Smith, 28, and Dominic Anthony Smith, 24, both of 653 Sherman Ave., were in the process of moving out when police were tipped off about likely drug activity by the property manager, Chief Mike Menster said.

A room on the main floor had its windows covered with trash bags. Investigators on Tuesday found 11 pots filled with potting soil, plant-growing lights, an electrical heating coil, aluminum foil, smoking pipes and a scale.

“The plants were gone but we found loose leaves and stalks that tested positive for marijuana,” Menster said. “It appears they were growing marijuana in there.”

Both men posted bond after they were each charged before District Judge Dennis M. Songer, Sharon, with possession and possession with intent to deliver marijuana and possession of drug paraphernalia.

Woman enters Alford plea on assault charge

GREENVILLE – A Greenville woman who told police she stabbed her boyfriend after he bragged about trashing her neighbor’s home Oct. 10 entered an Alford plea on an aggravated assault charge.

Lois I. Aley, 31, of 96 Clarksville St., agreed to the Alford plea and, in exchange, charges of attempted homicide and reckless endangerment charges were not pursued by the Mercer County district attorney’s office.

In making an Alford plea, a defendant does not admit guilt, but acknowledges that sufficient evidence likely exists for conviction at trial. The plea allows the case to proceed to sentencing.

Aley said her boyfriend, Justin H. Gulentz, 29, of Greenville, kept complaining that night about alleged drug activity at the neighbor’s home, police said.

Aley told police that she and Gulentz were arguing and she stabbed him with a kitchen knife because he got in her face during the argument, police said. She told police he had beaten her in the past and she didn’t want to take it any more, police said.

Gulentz was charged with burglary, theft, criminal trespassing and criminal mischief in the break-ins that happened earlier that night. Those charges were withdrawn by District Judge Brian Arthur.

PennDOT reviewing bids for Route 19, I-376 work

MERCER COUNTY – PennDOT is reviewing the bids for two major roadway projects, one in Mercer and one in Shenango Township.

Allison Park Contractors Inc. of Allison Park, Pa., submitted the apparent low bid of $4,949,000 to improve the Interstate 376-Mercer West Middlesex Road interchange in Shenango Township, said PennDOT spokesman Jim Carroll.

As part of the project, a contractor will build a northbound off-ramp and a southbound on-ramp. The project will affect 1.7 miles of highway.

Russell Standard Corp., Union City, submitted the apparent low bid of $1,349,293 for the Mercer project, which was an outgrowth of a Route 19 corridor study.

The hired contractor will replace the traffic signal at the five-leg intersection of Erie Street, Franklin Street, Greenville Avenue and North Street; widen the Franklin approach to accommodate a right-turn lane; restrict traffic on East North Street to one-way travel away from the intersection; and upgrade the traffic controllers where Erie Street intersects with Venango, Market and Butler streets.

PennDOT likely will award contracts in four to six weeks, Carroll said.