Philadelphia Criminal Law News

June 2011 Archives

July 4th and a Look at Pennsylvania Fireworks Laws

As we approach another July 4th holiday, it's a good time to review the Pennsylvania fireworks laws that apply those of us in the Keystone State.

The laws aren't too complicated. Basically, use of just about any firework is banned unless you have a permit. However, use of novelty items like sparklers and cap guns are permissible.

But if the use of fireworks is generally illegal, you may be wondering why you see so many tents and stands offering the sale of fireworks on Pennsylvania streets?

Richard Rosario Now Could Face Witness Intimidation Charges

Richard Rosario was already in jail awaiting trial for the robbery and beating of Luis Rivera, when he may have talked himself into another crime -- witness intimidation. Apparently ignoring the sign saying that prison phone calls are recorded, Rosario made seven calls to his girlfriend discussing plans to convince Rivera to not testify against him reports The Philadelphia Inquirer.

According to the Inquirer, Rosario allegedly told his girlfriend that he wanted her to pressure Rivera to not show up for trial and for Rivera to tell police that he made a false statement implicating Rosario in the crime.

Barnaby's Bar Will Not Face Charges for Serving Ryan Dunn

Barnaby’s of America, the bar that served Jackass star Ryan Dunn shortly before his death, will not face any criminal charges. The Jackass star died earlier this week in a fiery car accident and toxicology results indicate that Dunn’s blood alcohol level was over twice the legal limit at the time of the accident. Before getting into his car, Dunn had tweeted images of himself drinking at Barnaby’s.

Under Pennsylvania’s Dram Shop Laws, bars and taverns can be held liable if they continue to serve alcohol to obviously drunk people who then go on to kill or injure others. Dram Shop Laws basically seek to deter bars from serving drunk people and then letting them walk out the door.

Twenty-three year old Stephen Lyde pled guilty to several crimes relating to his 2009 assault of Thomas Fitzgerald. Charged in one of the Philadelphia’s first flash mob attacks, Lyde faces between five to 20 years in prison.

According to The Philadelphia Inquirer, Fitzgerald was riding home from work on his bicycle when he stopped and watched a mob of young men rob a Sunoco convenience store. As the mob got out of control, several men including Lyde allegedly yanked Fitzgerald from his bike and beat him unconscious.

The robbing of the convenience store and subsequent beating of Fitzgerald is reported by the Inquirer to be one of the first flash mob attacks in Philadelphia.

Robert McNear Gets Life Imprisonment Under Three-Strike Law

After his latest conviction for an armed robbery, Robert McNear of Bristol Township will serve the rest of his life in prison for violating Pennsylvania's three-strike law. Under the three-strike law, criminals who have been convicted of three or more felonies face up to life imprisonment with a minimum 25-year sentence reports the Courier-Times.

According to the Times, McNear was found guilty in April of armed robbery at a WaWa's convenience store. He was accused of walking into the WaWa's brandishing a large butcher knife and making demands for money. While no one was hurt in the incident, and while police were able to quickly apprehend him, this was just the latest in a long line of violent felonies for McNear.

Special-Ed Teacher Cheryl Bremble Arrested for Sex Offense

Upper Dublin High School special education teacher Cheryl Bremble has been arrested and charged with various crimes relating to sexual communications she had with a special education student under her care.

According to The Philadelphia Inquirer, Bremble allegedly exchanged sexually explicit text messages with the student, and gave the student a vibrator and urged her to masturbate with it through numerous text message conversations. Beyond the text messages, prosecutors also indicated that Bremble had sexually explicit conversations with the student in person and spent a significant amount of time with the girl outside of school, including shopping trips where Bremble bought the girl gifts.

Former Philadelphia Phillies' star, Lenny Dykstra, will remain in jail after buddy Charlie Sheen fails to bail him out -- again. Dykstra, the player affectionately known as "Dude" during the Phillies magical 1993 World Series run, has seen nothing but hard times since he retired in 1998.

According to The Philadelphia Inquirer, Dykstra is currently facing 23 felony counts in relation to an auto leasing scheme, including grand theft auto and drug charges, and he needs to raise $50,000 (ten percent of his $500,000 bail) to get released.

Police Lieutenant Eric Schmitz Kills Son in Self-Defense

Prosecutors say that Eric Schmitz, a police lieutenant for the Hatfield Township Police Department, shot and killed his 17-year old son in self-defense. Stephen Schmitz allegedly lunged at his father with a 10-inch hunting knife prompting the fatal shot reports the Philadelphia Daily News.

According to the Daily News, police had responded to the Schmitz's residence twice before in separate incidents involving Stephen Schmitz. In April, police responded to a call that Stephen was enraged and threatened to hurt himself. In May, police were called to the home after the teen threatened to kill himself. Stephen Schmitz was just recently released from an involuntary commitment at a behavioral-health treatment center.

Two Eastern European women associated with the "B-girl' ring in Miami responsible for the drugging of Philadelphia weatherman John Bolaris have pled guilty to immigration fraud charges. According to the Philadelphia Daily News, the two B-girls will likely serve less than a year in jail, avoiding the five years they faced had they not pled early.

The two defendants are the first of 17 defendants to enter pleas in the weird story that allegedly started with the drugging of Bolaris at a South Beach nightclub reports the Daily News.

Rebecca Olenchock, the homeless woman accused of beating and burning her mother to death, now stands trial facing homicide and arson charges. Last October, Olenchock allegedly beat her mother, Kimberly Venose, with a baseball ball as Venose slept inside a hut at a homeless camp reports the Philadelphia Inquirer.

According to the Inquirer, after the beating, Olenchock poured kerosene over her mother and set her afire. Olenchock then jumped into a car with her new boyfriend she met over the Internet to start a new life in Tennessee alleges the Deputy District Attorney. Amazingly, Venose was able to free herself and summon help before succumbing to her injuries and dying reports the Inquirer.

Philadelphia Attorney Richard Creamer was sentenced to five years in a federal jail for establishing and operating a marijuana grow house in the City. The Philadelphia Daily News reports that Creamer was convicted of conspiracy to manufacture 1,000 or more marijuana plants and other offenses.

Richard Creamer, an active attorney who practiced corporate and real estate law in the Northern Lights neighborhood of Philadelphia, manufactured the marijuana for sale by packaging multi-pound quantities for distribution in the region reports the Daily News. According to trial testimony, Creamer's operations produced 15 to 22 pounds of marijuana a month which sold for about $5,000 to $5,500 per pound.

Naqeebullah Habibi Murders William Walker over Beer Pong

Naqeebullah Habibi and William Walker were playing beer pong at a friend's party in Cherry Hill, New Jersey when they got into a fight resulting in Habibi's fatal stabbing of Walker. According to the Philadelphia Inquirer, Habibi and Walker were playing the drinking game beer pong, which involves throwing ping-pong balls into cups of beer, when they got into the argument.

The Inquirer reports that Habibi and Walker had initially appeared to resolve their dispute at the beer pong table. But as Habibi and Walker were leaving the party they reignited their argument and got into a fistfight. The fight intensified and Habibi allegedly pulled out a knife and stabbed Walker to death.

William Walker later died at an area hospital, and Naqeebullah Habibi now faces murder charges over beer pong.