Category Archives: Police & Fire
Ranger, the son of police dog Jozek, has been in training for over a year. He was certified in May for the first time, while Jozek was re-certified.
On Sunday around 1 a.m. Brett Baldelli, of Ellwood City, fled police after speeding by a patrol car. Baldelli fled to his residence and hid in the basement. In response, the K9 unit was called in to help secure the property.
Initially, Baldelli, hiding in the basement, refused to reveal himself. However, once he learned of Ranger’s presence, he emerged and surrendered without incident.
Lt. David Kingston, the police department’s ranking officer, said that the presence of a K9 dog is frequently enough to convince someone to surrender.
Sgt. Michael McBride, K9 officer and recently promoted, said that Ranger sniffed out four possible narcotic stashes, all of which were later confirmed to have illegal substances.
McBride explained that, for now, both Jozek and Ranger will be active. “Jozek would just sit at home and be bored if he retired,” McBride said.
“The most important part of a K9 unit is the bond,” McBride added. “Another K9 officer couldn’t work with Jozek and Ranger, and I couldn’t work with another dog. A bond has to form in the training for the unit to form.”
Police arrested a man wanted for theft and drug dealing last week following two incidents in Ellwood City.
According to the police report, Brett Baldelli, 33, of Entrance Drive, Ellwood City was arrested on June 14 in his house after attempting to elude capture.
On June 9, officers investigated a vehicle theft. The owner’s wallet had been stolen, along with driver’s license and credit cards. There were no leads.
On June 13, another vehicle theft was reported, although this one appeared to have aslo occurred between June 8 and 9. Stolen items included a purse, wallet, license, around $50 in gift card, and around $30 in cash. Again, there were no leads.
On June 14, at approximately 1:15 a.m. an office patrolling on Argonne Blvd saw a car turning onto Woodside Ave. As the car was speeding, the officer pursued. The car pulled into Baldelli’s driveway and fled into the basement. The officer identified the driver as Baldelli, who had several bench warrants.
The officer approached the house and saw at least three women inside. He announced his presence and called for back up. The K9 unit arrived and gained entry to the residence. When Baldelli heard the dog, he exited the basement, surrendered to police, and was taken into custody.
There were three females and one male in the house, all non-Ellwood residents, who were released. Police subsequently obtained a search warrant from Magistrate Jennifer Nicholson. The K9 unit found four locations with possible drugs, later all confirmed to have drugs.
Police found several bags containing what appeared to be cocaine, several syringes with an unknown liquid, a marijuana blunt cigar, and equipment for drug use, such as a 100 gram scale, lottery ticket paper used for packaging drugs, and a dragon pipe.
Police also found $1033 in cash, the credit cards and license of the previous victims, and a stolen revolver.
Baldelli is charged with three counts of receiving stolen property, prohibited possession of a firearm (as he was already a convicted felon), drug possession, intent to deliver, and flight to avoid capture.
He was arraigned by District Magistrate Jerry Cartwright with a bond of $35,000.
Burglary- Forced Entry
- According to the police report, about $5000 worth of items were stolen from a house on Hazen Ave. on June 13. At 8:40 p.m. the residents arrived home to find three televisions, cash, jewelry, electronic media, and other items missing. The owners had left the house around 8:30 a.m. The burglar appeared to have broken in through the back door, which had been locked. Investigating officers also discovered a window open in the master bedroom. Investigation ongoing.
- According to the police report, at 5:30 a.m. a patrolling officer noticed a truck at the tennis courts in Ewing Park that had not been there when he previously passed. The officer also spotted two white males dragging a duffel bag toward the truck. When they saw the officer, they fled into the woods, leaving their loot behind. The officer discovered candy, drinks, and Gatorade with flavors ranging from Glacier Freeze to Riptide Rush. The K9 unit was dispatched to track the burglars. However, the actors had fled over a cliff and could not be pursued. Investigation of the relationship of the truck to the actors and the identity of the actors is ongoing.
A fire that gutted a vacant home at 605 Glen Ave has been confirmed as an arson by a state police fire marshal.
The house caught fire on June 10 around 5:40 p.m. The Ellwood City, North Sewickley, and Wurtemburg-Perry Fire Departments were all involved in extinguishing the flames. The house was owned by Steve Lemanski, Jr. of Ellwood City.
Lemanski reported that the electric and gas were shut off. Ellwood Fire Chief Rick Myers found no cause for the fire to start on its own. He also determined that a padlock on the front door had been broken. He reported the fire was possibly an arson.
On June 11, a state police fire marshal examined the scene and confirmed that the fire was an arson.
The house was completely gutted, with damages estimated around $50,000.
- According to the police report, on June 8 around 8:30 a.m. Donald Plum III, 27, of Georgetown PA, was stealing change from the Ellwood City Revitalization Fountain on Lawrence Ave. The investigating officer saw him from the Municipal Building and went to question him. Plum admitted to stealing about $2.00 in change. He was charged with trespassing and disorderly conduct. The investigating officer discovered Plum had a warrant in New Brighton, so he was transferred to the police station there.
- According to the police report, officers responded to a domestic violence report on Loop Street on June 8 around 6:00 p.m. Investigating officers questioned Tiffany Nunez, 30, and Raphael Nunez, 32, both of Ellwood City. Nunez reported her husband had pushed her head through a wall and kicked the door. The wall had a hole and the door had marks. R. Nunez was arrested, waiting arraignment.
Rykel Samsa, 19, of Ellwood City, has been charged with criminal mischief for driving into a portable toilet.
The toilet, owned by Approved Toilet Rentals, is located in Ewing Park on Riverside Drive near Shelter #8.
According to the police report, at 9:00 a.m. on May 13, a park employee reported the toilet damaged. Investigating officers believed the damage was inflicted by a motor vehicle.
After following leads, an investigating officer interviewed Samsa on May 26. She said she was driving her car with her friend, Caitlin Hudak, 18, of Ellwood City and noticed the portable toilet was already damaged.
She decided to drive into it. She posted a video on social media, although the video had been deleted when officers checked her phone. She stated she did not believe her car inflicted more damage.
An investigating officer questioned Hudak the same day. Hudak provided a written confession that matched Samsa’s, except that she did believe their action caused damage to the toilet.
- According to the police report, on Tuesday, May 5 around 11:00 a.m., an officer on patrol spotted Ryan Daniel Russo, 34, of Ellwood City on 13th Street. Russo had two warrants for DUIs. Russo ran behind Dollar General and was pursued by officers. The chase went past the West End Cafe to Beaver Avenue where Russo was finally apprehended. The charge of attempting to escape was added to his previous charges. He was arraigned by Magistrate Jennifer Nicholson on a $1000 bond and committed to the Lawrence County Jail.
- According to the police report, on Wednesday, April 29 around 11:45 p.m., police were informed of a domestic dispute on Crescent Avenue. Officers arrived at the residence where Robert Trey Brown, 26, of Ellwood City, requested officers to hand cuff him. He and Rebecca Linn Bastianni (Reese) got into an argument. Brown pushed Bastianni to the floor. Bastiannia landed on a picture frame on the floor and cut her foot on the broken glass. Brown also poured beer on Bastianni’s head and threatened her with violence. Brown was arrested on simple assault charges.
Possessions with Intent to Deliver:
Ellwood City and state police arrested a man for possession with intent to deliver on April 28. According to the police report, Taurean Potter, 29, had 3 warrants in Lawrence County and 2 in Beaver. State, Beaver County, and Ellwood City police cooperated in an operation to apprehend Potter. On Tuesday, officers arrived at Potter’s girlfriend’s residence at Wayne Ave. A search found cocaine and marijuana. Potter was hiding in the basement behind the furnace under a sheet. He was taken into custody and admitted he intended to deliver cocaine.
According to the police report, on April 27, around 6:30 p.m., officers were dispatched to Ewing Park in response to a criminal mischief complaint. 3-4 juveniles, at least 1 a female, were overturning and damaging tables and garbage cans by the swimming pool. Police estimated there was about $400 dollars worth in damage. Investigating officers could find no cooperative witnesses or further evidence.
Police confirmed that an overdose death in February was caused by fentanyl-laced heroin.
Since December, there have been five overdose deaths in the Ellwood Borough. One in December was from opiates, probably oxycodone. In addition to the laced-heroin, another overdose in February was from pharmaceuticals. Also in February, an overdose in North Sewickley Township was caused by a fentanyl patch.
The cause of the two overdoses in April are still pending lab results.
Lt. David Kingston, ranking police officer, said that overdoses from fentanyl have occurred in Ellwood before, but fentanyl-laced heroin is rare to the area.
“Opiates aren’t as prevalent,” Kingston said. “Heroin is similar and cheaper, so people go for that. Sometimes they settle for meth.”
Fentanyl is a powerful synthetic opiate used for anesthesia. It is similar to but more potent than morphine. It is typically used to treat patients with severe pain after surgery.
Mixing fentanyl with heroin increases the effect but also increases the danger.
Two people have died in Ellwood City this month from what could have been a heroin overdose.
According to a published report, the deaths coincide with the arrival of fentanyl-laced heroin in Lawrence County. Fentanyl is a painkiller that is sometimes used to increase heroin’s potency, but also increases the deadliness.
According to Lt Kingston, Ellwood City police ranking officer, it is currently unknown if the deaths were caused by heroin, fentanyl-laced heroin, or just fentanyl. The answer won’t be known until toxicology reports are completed, which could take several weeks.