Category Archives: Police & Fire

POLICE: EC woman run over by own car at mailbox

An Ellwood City woman sustained undisclosed injuries Tuesday evening after being hit by her own car in a Line Avenue parking lot.

According to police, Nancy Melinda Thomas, 62, of 724 Line Ave., was knocked to the ground by her 2013 Fiat while trying to put mail into a United States Postal Service mailbox outside of State Representative Jaret Gibbons’ office at 428 Line Ave.  Thomas exited the vehicle, which contains a manual transmission, believing that the emergency break was on and that the car was out of gear.  When she got to the mailbox, the car began to roll out of the parking lot and onto Line Avenue.  While trying to re-enter the vehicle, Thomas was knocked to the ground.  The Fiat drifted south across the road and into a row of hedges beyond the sidewalk.  It was unclear if Thomas was dragged by the vehicle.

The victim was taken to Ellwood City Hospital for further evaluation.  No other injuries were reported at the scene.

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COURT: Webb faces charges in separate incidents

An Ellwood City man secured two court dates with following separate incidents of burglary and drug possession.  Matthew Webb, 19, of 701 Orchard Ave., will appear before Judge Jerry Cartwright on Nov.19, at 9:30 a.m., then again on Dec. 2, at 9:30 am.

On multiple occasions police attempted to question Webb about a burglary they began investigating in August 2013 that occurred at Weller’s Flea Market at 130 Wampum Ave.  According to criminal complaint, police responded to an investigation of burglary at the flea market on Aug. 27 that happened overnight.  The actor used some type of bar to pry the rear entrance open, and broke the deadbolt in the process to gain entry to the building.  After breaking in, he/she allegedly stole several retail items, including jewelry and power tools.

During the investigation, police obtained addresses to two locations in New Castle that purchased and resold jewelry: Greeks House of Gold, located at 368 1/2 E. Washington St., and New Castle Gold Company, located at 2201 Wilmington Rd.

At Greeks House of Gold, an employee gave officers a receipt from Aug. 28 detailing the purchase of rings confirmed to belong to Weller’s Flea Market.  The receipt depicted Webb as the person involved in the transaction, which amounted to $106, thus confirming his possession of the stolen goods.  Then, police discovered a receipt from Aug. 31, at 11:35 a.m., showing that Webb again sold silver rings from Weller’s Flea Market to Greeks House of Gold for a total of $14.  Furthermore, the defendant sold rings on Aug. 31, at 11:45 a.m. to New Castle Gold Company for $9.

Approximately three months later, on Dec.9, officers recovered two chainsaws taken in the burglary at Hamilton Tool & Supply in Beaver Falls.  Verification of the purchases showed that Webb sold the Poulan Pro and Home Lite chainsaws to the tool and supply store for $50 on Aug. 29.

He refused to speak with police about the matter on several occasions, including an occurrence when New Castle Police detained him for a disturbance, so he received a summons to appear in court on Dec. 2.

On Oct. 16, Webb earned a second court date after officers found several individually wrapped plastic baggies of marijuana on him after they responded to a call about a man wearing a gray hooded sweatshirt with black shorts carrying a gun on his waistband while at McDonald’s parking lot on 5th Street.

Police arrived to find Webb, who matched the description, standing near the parking lot entrance.  They found ten baggies of marijuana, packaged to sell, on the accused.  He told the officers that he possessed it for personal use.  Police seized the marijuana.

Webb faces one count of receiving stolen property for the first case, and possession of marijuana in the second case.

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COURT: Portersville man held for assault

A Portersville man is set to appear in court after violently assaulting a woman and a juvenile on the evening of Oct. 5.

According to the complaint, Matthew Richard Tolley, 28, of 269 Studebaker Rd., Portersville, punched a woman five times, pulled her hair, and twisted her arm after an argument turned violent.  The woman claims that Tolley became angry because she had not made him dinner, so he hit her repeatedly, which left lumps and swelling on the top of her head..  A juvenile bystander attempted to intervene, and Tolley shoved the juvenile to the floor causing minor injuries.

Tolley will appear before Judge Jerry Cartwright, Jr. on Tuesday, Oct. 14, at 9:30 a.m.  He is being held on $5,000 bond.


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Crime watch and mayor advisory committee meetings

Crime Watch Meeting

Mayor Anthony J. Court held his monthly crime watch meeting on Thursday, Sept. 25, 2014, at 6:30 p.m., at the Walnut Ridge Community Center.

Court extended his gratitude to the Lawrence County Housing Authority for the installation of the 25 cameras in the Walnut Ridge public housing complex. He advised that the project would be completed on Friday, Oct. 3, 2014. Further, Court stressed that 95% of the Walnut Ridge community members are obedient citizens, and that criminal activity is mostly provoked by outsiders.

The mayor commended the housing authority’s efforts to evict those individuals who disrupt and cause harm to the community. He stated that the housing authority is continuing to research criminal records in order to protect the law-abiding citizens that reside within its jurisdiction.

During a question-and-answer session, citizens raised questions in regards to their privacy, and how the cameras may intrude upon it. Court assured them that the cameras monitor only outside activity in addition to the entrances and exits of the housing authority community. Also, discussion occurred as to whether or not the cameras are remotely accessed from police cruisers. Court stated that the notion of patrol monitoring remains in deliberation. The mayor reassured those in attendance that if/when criminal activity transpires in the Walnut Ridge public housing complex, that the Ellwood City Police will be notified immediately.

Court believes that his, and law enforcement’s, collaboration with the Lawrence County Housing Authority took a big step toward creating a safer environment for citizens in the Walnut Ridge public housing complex, and the entire Ellwood City community.

Mayor Court advised that the next meeting would be held on Thursday, Oct. 30, 2014 at 6:30 p.m. in the council chambers, located on the first floor of the Ellwood City Municipal Building.

Mayor Advisory Committee Meeting

Mayor Anthony Court’s Advisory Committee met on Thursday, Sept. 25, 2014, at 3 p.m. in the council chambers, located on the first floor of the Ellwood City Municipal Building.

The committee began the meeting by discussing the installation of the Walnut Ridge public housing complex cameras, and a possible date for their completion. Next, it was reported that Sabre Industries, of 700 Second St., would be repaying its debt to the Ellwood City Borough. Further, the committee vowed to make code officials aware of an abandoned home located on June Lee Street.

Also, advisory committee members discussed a possible issue with emissions believed to be coming from the Inmetco stacks. Concerned citizens alerted the group that the emissions may be producing a foul odor.

Finally, Mayor Court advised members that he planned to continue the war on drugs.

The mayor’s next advisory committee meeting will be held on Thursday, Oct. 30, 2014 at 3 p.m. in the council chambers.

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POLICE: One man wounded in apparent break-in attempt

Two Ellwood City men were suspected of assaulting another with a firearm on Monday morning after a man attempted to break into a Fifth Street apartment.

James Hammond, 19, of 12 Fifth St., and Anthony Cirelli, 25, of 4639 Portersville Rd. were detained by police after Donald “Pooker” Ostrom, 30, of 707 Fairview Ave., showed up at Ellwood City Hospital at approximately 1:47 a.m. with a gunshot wound to his hand.

According to the report, Ostrom spoke with police while being treated for his injury, and named Hammond as the shooter.  He claimed that the accused owed him $30, which sparked the altercation at 12 Fifth St.  Prior to his arrival, police heard three gunshots in the vicinity of Fifth Street, Sixth Street, Glen Avenue, and Factory Avenue.  Further investigation revealed that Cirelli fired his silver Smith and Wesson .357 Magnum in an attempt to stop an intruder.

The shooter claimed that the intruder kicked the back door in at the residence while he and Hammond were watching television.  A male wearing a dark hooded sweatshirt and a red bandana over his face entered the apartment and sprayed Hammond in the face with pepper spray.  Cirelli admitted to firing the weapon, which was never properly registered upon purchase, through a door at the intruder.  Police received a call about a burglary, not in progress, from Ostrom’s sister, who said that her brother might have been trying to break into the apartment.

When police asked Ostrom to go to station for questioning, he stated that he was too sedated to answer questions.

Police detained Hammond and Cirelli and held them for questioning.

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POLICE: Meth lab bust on Spring Avenue

An Ellwood City man faces charges of operating a methamphetamine lab at his residence.

On Thursday, Sept. 25, at 10:05 p.m., the Ellwood City Police Department received a call about strong chemical odors coming from the downstairs apartment occupied by Michael Joseph Tomasello, 55, at 423 Spring Ave., Apartment 1.  When officers arrived at the residence, the smell of chemicals overwhelmed them.  The Ellwood City Fire Department was then called in to remove a smoking bottle full of muriatic acid from the basement. Tomasello agreed to let a task force search the premises in order to check for more hazardous chemicals.  The team found several materials used for the production of methamphetamine, including: Burnt tin foil strips, stripped AA lithium batteries,several empty pseudoephedrine packs, and a bottle filled with a white substance covering chunks of metal, along with the aforementioned muriatic acid.

Tomasello complied with officers, and went to the police station for questioning.  Upon arrival officers found a black plastic bottle in the actor’s pocket containing a white crystalline substance which was later confirmed as methamphetamine.  Tomasello claimed to be “unsure” of the container’s contents, though he later described it as a “dusting” of meth.

According to Tomasello, two other men, Timothy Bill Locke, Jr.,34, of 4446 Hollow Rd. in New Castle, and Rick Brian Lumley, 44, of 332 Rear Orchard Ave., fled the scene when the call was made to police.  He pointed out that Locke was the “shaker,” or maker of the methamphetamine, and that Lumley supplied the Claritin D.  The actor then explained that the three men shared the methamphetamine that they made.

In all, police seized 19 items used to produce methamphetamine.

Tomasello also faces charges of delivery or possession with intent to deliver, using ammonia gas-related chemicals, conspiracy to manufacture with intent to deliver, conspiracy to operate a methamphetamine lab, possession of a controlled substance and possession of drug paraphernalia.

Locke and Lumley were not yet charged.

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POLICE: Woman poses as dead sister during DUI stop

An Ellwood City woman faces drunk driving and false identification charges, amongst others, after police claiming to be her dead sister during a traffic stop in Blair County.

According to the report, Crystal Lample, 35, of Ellwood City, was pulled over on Thursday, Sept. 11, in Tyrone, PA, after police received a tip on an erratic driver.  Officers stated that Lample could barely stand and claimed to be her sister, Brandi Lee Miller, of Ellwood City, who passed away on Nov. 4, 2010.

An Associated Press report revealed that a friend of Lample’s told police that she used her sister’s name anytime she dealt with police.

Lample waived her right to a preliminary hearing on Tuesday.

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COURT: Possession, stalking, embezzlement, & DUI

  • A court date was set for a New Castle woman after investigators found evidence of approximately $92,412.92 in stolen funds from her former employer.

    According to the police report, Chastity Yvette (Booker) Williams, 38, of 2724 State St., allotted herself unauthorized overtime pay at increased rates and took an insurance allotment waiver while also receiving benefits.  The former assistant business manager of Lawrence County Career and Technical Center (LCCTC) allegedly took advantage of her position in which she controlled payroll and school records.

    From March 1, 2010 until Aug. 31, 2013, the defendant took 2,463.5 overtime hours without consent from the school director.  Also, she changed her overtime rates to amounts between $.83 and $5.60 above her pay grade.  Further, Williams opted to take $1,250 from a waiver of health insurance benefits, even though she enrolled in the health plan.  Moreover, a forensic accountant team found illegitimate charges on her company credit card, including fraudulent mileage claims for business trips for which she used rental vehicles in lieu of a personal vehicle.  The defendant also received overpayment on her final check after leaving LCCTC, which she failed to pay back.

    Williams faces 28 counts of Theft by Unlawful Taking, 26 counts of Theft by Deception – False Impression, and 54 counts of Receiving Stolen property.  She will appear in court on Monday, Sept. 29, at 1 p.m. before Judge Jerry Cartwright, Jr.

  • A court date was set for an Ellwood City man after police found him heavily intoxicated and in possession of a controlled substance during the borough-wide blackout on Sept. 14.

    According to the police report, Jesse Ray Vale, 32, of 213 Crescent Ave., was seen by a patrolling officer at approximately 2:16 a.m. at the seven-hundred block of Lawrence Avenue leaning against a wall outside of Studio P Dance Studio.  The reporting officer flashed a flood light on Vale, who then began to stumble in the opposite direction.  The officer made contact with the defendant, whose eyes appeared bloodshot and glassy, and detected  a strong odor of alcohol.  A pat down revealed a large plastic bag full of orange pills determined as adderall, for which he did not have a prescription.

    Vale faces charges of Possession of a Controlled Substance, and Public Drunkenness.  He will appear in court on Tuesday, Oct. 21, at 9:30 a.m., before Judge Jerry Cartwright, Jr.

  • A court date was set for a Beaver Falls man who allegedly attempted to lure a teenage girl into his van in Little Beaver Township on Sept. 11.

    According to the police report, Michael Paul Shields, 50, of 2944 Darlington Rd., pulled up to a 14-year-old girl in his gray Chevrolet Venture, and asked if she wanted a ride home from her school bus stop on Cherry Hill Road at approximately 3:30 p.m.  After the girl refused a ride, Shields pulled his vehicle forward and watched her walk to her house.  She called Pennsylvania State Police and described the man as being around 50-years-old, with gray thinning hair, who wore glasses and a yellow shirt with gray stripes.

    Troopers found the unoccupied van in a driveway on nearby Woodhill Drive.  Shields appeared a short time later with the owner of the residence.  He admitted to asking the girl if she wanted a ride, then said he drove away to make a phone call and visit his friend.

    Shields faces charges of Luring a Child into a Motor Vehicle, and Stalking.  He will appear in court on Tuesday, Oct. 21, at 9:30 a.m., before Judge Jerry Cartwright, Jr.

  • A court date was set for an Ellwood City man after police arrested him for allegedly driving drunk and wrecking into two legally parked vehicles on Pittsburgh Circle.

    According to the police report, Michael Howard Steffler, 39, of 1005 Center Ave., drove his gray Chevrolet truck down the center of the road into two parked vehicles, then exited the truck to talk to a friend who lived on the same street.  When officers arrived, at approximately 8:50 p.m., they noticed damage to the front left portion of Steffler’s truck.  An officer advised the defendant to come speak with them, to which he responding he was talking to his friend.  Then, Steffler staggered to the scene of the crime, emitting a heavy aroma of alcohol.  When questioned, he claimed that he had not been drinking.  Police arrested the defendant after he failed three field sobriety tests.

    Steffler faces charges of Driving Under the Infleunce, and Failure to Keep Right.  He will appear in court on Tuesday, Oct. 21, at 9:30 a.m., before Judge Jerry Cartwright.

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Missing Driver In Franklin Twp. Car Crash Turns Up

According to reports, a one-vehicle accident in Franklin Township Wednesday morning left arriving police officers stumped as the driver was nowhere to be found.

Now, charges are pending against the driver for leaving the scene of the accident and for multiple traffic violations.

The accident took place on South Camp Run Road in Franklin Township, Beaver County where, according to reports, 23-year-old Sonya Osselborn said she swerved to avoid deer on the road while on her way home from her boyfriend’s house.

The series of events led the vehicle to flip and land on its roof after it careened off the side of the road and down a hillside.

First responders were notified about a car over the hillside Wednesday afternoon, but did not know when the accident happened or where the driver was.

According to reports, after the accident, Osselborn climbed up the hillside and walked three miles home and later went to class Wednesday.  Osselborn planned to contact police at a later time.

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POLICE REPORT: Criminal Mischief; Drunkenness; Theft


  • According to the police report, John Hogue reported a burglary at his home, located on the 500 block of Line Avenue, on 8/17. Between the hours of 2:00 p.m. on August 16 and 12:30 p.m. on August 17, an unknown actor broke into Hogue’s apartment through the window. The actor stole a 32-inch Samsung Television, located in the front of his apartment. The cost of the stolen property was estimated at $200.00. Police are still searching for suspects.

Criminal Mischief:

  • According to the police report, criminal mischief was reported at the Women’s Softball Field at Stiefel Park on 8/19. Police arrived at Hack Wilson Drive at around 4:00 p.m. to see the damage that was done to the outfield fence after an unknown driver had crashed into it. The fence will need to be pulled out and re-secured. No suspects have been found at this time.

Criminal Mischief to Automobiles:

  • According to the police report, Daniel Mancini reported criminal mischief to his father’s 2006 beige Chevrolet Trail Blazer on 8/16. At some point during the night, an unknown actor smashed the victim’s driver’s side rearview mirror. It was parked outside of the Mancini’s residence on the 400 block of Beatty Street. The total damage is estimated to cost $300.00. The investigation will continue.
  • According to the police report, Travis Bratt reported criminal mischief to his 2004 orange Pontiac Grand Am on 8/17. The victim told police that between the hours of 2:00 a.m. and 10:20 a.m., an unknown actor threw a cinder block through Bratt’s windshield. The vehicle was parked outside of his home, located on the 500 block of Loop Street, when the incident occurred. This case is under review.


  • According to the police report, Douglas Lample, 40, reported harassment from Dawn Dittmer, 41, on 8/17. Police arrived to the residence, located on the 200 block of 5th Street, at around 12:30 a.m. They immediately spotted Dittmer, who was highly intoxicated, attempting to flee the scene. Lample and a witness claimed that Dittmer was drunk and that she had been punching Lample in the face. He did have a bloody lip for the confrontation. While officers were trying to hear the entire story, Dittmer continued to scream profane language and even attempted to hit Lample. She was then placed under arrest for harassment, disorderly conduct and public drunkenness.

Public Drunkenness:

  • According to the police report, officers were summoned to Burger King, located at 627 Lawrence Avenue, for an unknown male that was passed out inside the restaurant on 8/16. He was identified as Joshua Strosnider, 24, of Ellwood City. Strosnider became annoyed and irate when Ellwood City Firefighters tried helping him at around 12:50 p.m. He denied treatment and attempted to walk away. Strosnider, smelling strongly of alcohol and marijuana, was stopped and detained by police. His speech was slurred, he had slow reactions and  was staggering. Strosnider was then placed under arrest. He became resistant and had to be subdued. He is being charged with public drunkenness and disorderly conduct.


  • According to the police report, John Boydell reported theft at his home, located on the 100 block of Madison Avenue, on 8/19. The victim told police that an unknown vehicle pulled up to his house at around midnight that evening. The actor took seven solar lights from Boydell’s yard that alternated between red, green and blue in color. Neither Boydell or his wife were able to describe the vehicle. The cost of the stolen property was estimated at $5.00 per light. This incident is still under investigation.
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