Woman accused of torching shack man called home

The man was living in a wooden shack in a wooded area of South Fourth Street in Allentown, city police said.

An Allentown woman told a friend she was going to torch a wooden…

Pair breaks elementary school’s skylights, state police say

The skylights were damaged the evening of Oct. 14 at Wescosville Elementary School.

Pennsylvania State Police are looking for the pair responsible for breaking a handful of skyli…

Clinton running mate Tim Kaine returning to Lehigh Valley

The vice presidential nominee’s rally is scheduled Oct. 26.

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Hillary Clinton’s running mate will be making another swing through the Lehigh Valley next week.

Vice-presidential hopeful Tim Kaine is expected to be in the area on Wednesday, with a Bucks County visit also planned the same day, according to a campaign news release Saturday. The locations of the rallies are yet to be determined.

In addition to advancing Clinton’s message, Kaine will also promote Democrats in down-ballot races, the release said.

It will be Kaine’s second time stumping in the Valley — he gave a speech at Aug. 31 in the Hanover Township Community Center.

Is this Lehigh Valley county key to victory?

Clinton and Kaine were traveling Pennsylvania on Saturday, with scheduled stops in Pittsburgh and Philadelphia. 

Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump held a rally of his own Saturday in Gettysburg. His running mate, Mike Pence, addressed the Lehigh Valley base Oct. 13 with a speech in Bethlehem.

Neither Clinton nor Trump have themselves made Lehigh Valley appearances.

Pennsylvania is among the swing states analysts say could be key to victory on Election Day Nov. 8.

Steve Novak may be reached at snovak@njadvancemedia.com. Follow him on Twitter @type2supernovak and Facebook. Find lehighvalleylive.com on Facebook.

Road rage leads to ‘chaotic’ scene outside Arby’s, cops say

Five to seven people were allegedly involved in a chaotic scene. Two face charges.

Two brothers face charges after what police described as a “chaotic” scene outside a Lower…

Storm-ruptured pipeline spills 55K gallons of fuel in central Pa., reports say

Water supplies are being monitored in the Williamsport area after torrential rain.

Drinking water for thousands of central Pennsylvania residents is being monitored after a fuel …

Their daughter’s lungs saved his life: Recipient meets late donor’s parents

Her death, a tragedy for one family, provided a miracle for another.

Michael Mania Jr. didn’t know what to say.
For the first time, he was meeting the parents of the woman whose …

Holly Grim was shot in the chest, report says

The missing Lehigh County woman was shot and then buried in a Monroe County backyard, according to WBRE-TV.

A missing Lehigh County woman was shot in the chest and then buried in…

Strip club robber alleges police officer attacked him during arrest

City officials said the officer’s actions during the arrest of Hector Medina Pena were found to be appropriate.

A man who robbed an Allentown strip club is alleging a city police officer attacked him during his 2015 arrest, fracturing the city man’s jaw.

In a federal lawsuit filed Thursday, Hector Medina Pena said while he was on his hands and knees surrendering to police, city police officer Joseph Iannetta gave a “WWE-style” kick with his booted foot to Medina Pena’s head.

Medina Pena says he was attacked twice by officer Iannetta while surrendering to police, and was hospitalized after suffering knocked out teeth and a fractured jaw.

The arrest was recorded by a dashboard camera. The suit alleges Iannetta and another officer filed false police reports to cover up the attack, and said Medina Pena only suffered a cut lip.

The 33-year-old Medina Pena is suing the city of Allentown, Mayor Ed Pawlowski, then-police chief Joel Fitzgerald, Iannetta, officer Patrick Bull and other unidentified officers.

Allentown solicitor Susan Wild said Iannetta’s actions during the May 30, 2015, arrest were reviewed by command staff and the solicitor’s office, and found to be appropriate under the circumstances. 

Iannetta has been with the Allentown Police Department for almost 15 years, has been honored for merit and bravery, and is an instructor and field training officer at the police academy, Wild said in a prepared statement.

“We look forward to the evidence in this case demonstrating that his actions were appropriate,” the solicitor said.

The suit alleges over the past decade Iannetta has had nine citizen complaints made against him involving physical and verbal abuse, one person injured during an arrest, and four use-of-force investigations. None of the complaints were determined to be founded, the suit says.

In a statement issued Friday evening, police Chief Keith Morris said that while the city didn’t want to “try the case in the news,” Medina Pena was believed to be an armed suspect at the time, and officers used “the minimal amount of force necessary to overcome the threat.”

“In today’s society, where officers are routinely being criticized for their use of firearms in encounters with suspects, this is an incident where an officer (based on his training) used a reasonable amount of force in response to the report of an armed suspect and necessitated by Mr. Medina Pena’s criminal actions, and took a felon into custody with minimal risk and injury to all involved,” the chief said.

Receptionist details strip club robbery

Police were called the night of May 30, 2015, for a reported armed robbery at Platinum Plus, 1253 Airport Road, on the east side of the city.

A man with a handgun demanded money from a club receptionist, and then fled with three other men in an SUV, police said.

Police learned Medina Pena and the three others spent about an hour at the business, but when the three men left, Medina Pena came back to the reception desk.

Receptionist Jessica Neff testified she had her back turned when Medina Pena said,”Give me all your money.” Neff testified she turned around and said,” Excuse me,” when Medina Pena said, “Give me all the money or I’ll shoot you.”

Medina Pena got about $1,594, and then he and the other men left the business in a black Ford Explorer, records say.

Allentown police Officer James Nusky spotted the vehicle at Third and Union streets and called for back-up. There was a brief chase, police said, during which a black bag with $1,565 inside was thrown out the vehicle window and later recovered by officers.

Eventually the SUV stopped at Fifth and Auburn streets.

Police said Medina Pena got out of the SUV and reached toward his waistband while walking toward officer Iannetta.

Medina Pena repeatedly refused to comply with Iannetta’s commands, according to police, and repeatedly reached near his waistband where a bag was resting across his body.

After Medina Pena was kicked, the vehicle’s driver has his hands out of the window, when Iannetta stuck his gun in the driver’s face, ‘violently’ ripped the driver out and threw the man on the ground, according to the lawsuit.

Iannetta jumped on the driver, rolled on top of him and pointed his gun in the driver’s face as other officers handcuffed the driver, the suit says. Iannetta then violently assaulted Medina-Pena again, while Medina-Pena was lying on the roadway with his hands behind his back, according to the lawsuit.

Medina Pena was then handcuffed by officer Bull. The suit claims that Iannetta celebrated the attack, at one point fist-bumping another officer, and that Bull did not report the attack.

Medina Pena pleaded guilty to robbery this past May, and was sentenced to 4 1/2 to 10 years in state prison. He is serving his sentence in the state prison in Coal Township in Northumberland County.

Sarah Cassi may be reached at scassi@lehighvalleylive.com. Follow her on Twitter @SarahCassi. Find lehighvalleylive.com on Facebook.


Brother films from car hood after sister tries to hit him, troopers say

A witness corroborated the brother’s version of events, Pennsylvania State Police.

Pennsylvania State Police said they had two different versions of a Lehigh County assault involving a brother and sister on the day their mother came home from the hospital.

The brother filmed part of the attack from the roof of a car driven by his sister, Cyrena Huffort, after Huffort tried to run him over, according to troopers. A  witness also corroborated the brother’s version of events.

Huffort, of the 1000 block of Bernice Drive in Coplay, was arrested and charged with aggravated assault, simple assault, reckless endangerment and harassment. She was sent to Lehigh County Jail in lieu of 10 percent of $5,000 bail.

MORE: Woman accused of beating up girlfriend in Nazareth

Troopers at the Bethlehem barracks were called Thursday night to a home in the 5400 block of Mauser Street in North Whitehall Township.

Troopers learned earlier that day Terrance Vandling brought the pair’s mother home from the hospital, when she discovered her credit cards were missing. Vandling reported his mother called Huffort about the credit cards, and when Huffort came to the house, Vandling retrieved the cards, troopers said.

The two began to argue. The 32-year-old Huffort reportedly said Vandling blocked in her PT Cruiser wit his vehicle, and she feared for her life because of a incident two weeks ago. Huffort said her brother jumped on the roof of her car to assault her, and she began to drive away out of fear and to get Vandling off the vehicle, troopers said.

Vandling reported he was walking away, when his sister drove toward him, and he jumped on the hood to avoid getting hit, according to state police.

The brother reportedly said he punched Huffort’s windshield to get his sister to stop, but that he eventually fell off the car as Huffort swerved back and forth while driving at least 30 mph.

Sarah Cassi may be reached at scassi@lehighvalleylive.com. Follow her on Twitter @SarahCassi. Find lehighvalleylive.com on Facebook.


Have you seen these suspects? Fugitives of the week Oct. 22, 2016

Northampton and Warren county authorities say they are looking for two suspects.

Northampton County authorities seek Nathaniel Santos-Moore – fugitive of the week
Warren County a…

N.J. Republican lawmakers push for repeal of 23-cent gas tax hike

The gas tax opponents launched an online petition and introduced a bill to repeal the higher tax.

TRENTON — Less than a week after a 23-cent gasoline tax was signed into la…

Why errant golf balls are terrorizing a Lehigh Valley couple

Jerzy and Halina Wisniewski say golfers are bombarding their Williams Township property with balls.

As a three-year cancer sufferer, Halina Wisniewski said she seeks a healing p…

Farewell, foliage? 45 mph gusts to sweep through on chilly Saturday

The warm streak from the past few days is over.

After a week that felt more like late summer than October, autumn will come sweeping back Saturday on the back of strong, chill wi…

‘House Hunters’ to feature Slate Belt teacher, family

The Bodtmann family received help finding a new home from the popular HGTV show.

Many folks have hunted for a new home, but not necessarily in front of a television camera crew.

Cops save Lafayette professor’s life with defibrillator

The retired professor from Easton was at a museum in Princeton, N.J., when he was stricken.

PRINCETON — Police officers in New Jersey used a defibrillator they carry in their pa…