A New Castle man was sentenced to 18 to 40 years in prison after pleading guilty to third degree murder and robbery charges. The trial for 40 year old Jordan Perritti was scheduled to get underway Tuesday in Lawrence County Common Pleas Court when the plea agreement was reached. The New Castle News reports Perritti was accused in the February 6th shooting death of 39 year old Jordan Miles. Perritti was also accused of robbing the CVS Pharmacy on the city East Side two days earlier. Perritti has been in the Lawrence County Jail without bond since his arrest

Pennsylvania officials are warning against burning trash, making campfires or any other kind of outside burning due to a high wildfire risk. The state wildfire season lasts through May, when dry, windy conditions make for elevated risk . According to the state Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, 99 percent of wildfires are caused by human activity. In addition to the spring wildfire season, Pennsylvania experiences an additional period of high risk in October and November.

The chairman of the state House Education Committee says a court-ordered overhaul of Pennsylvania school district funding likely won’t come this year. Democrat Representative Peter Schweyer says he expects  lawmakers to only be able to negotiate a short-term patch. He says they’ll be able to give the issue more attention during next year’s budget process as lawmakers might be too far into negotiations this year to do any good. Last month, a Commonwealth Court judge found the state’s funding of basic education unconstitutional, agreeing that poor school districts are systemically underfunded by billions of dollars. 

State regulators are working to officially end a ban that asks Pennsylvania residents about their race and ethnicity when they apply for insurance. The Pennsylvania Insurance Department has proposed lifting the ban so that state-licensed health insurers can collect the information in compliance with federal requirements that will take effect in two years.  Existing state law bans such questions due to potential discrimination issues. The proposed change in the state rules is scheduled to appear soon in the Pennsylvania Bulletin, then the public has until May 15th to comment on the proposal.

Police in Mercer County say a West Middlesex woman who is the administrative assistant to Sharpsville Area School District’s superintendent has been accused of theft.  According to the Sharon Herald, Darlene Cheney is charged with theft, receiving stolen property, tampering with records, and theft by deception after police said she took about 26 hundred dollars from the school system.   A preliminary hearing has not been set.  

Former Senator Patrick Toomey, a Republican from Pennsylvania, has joined the board of managers for Definiti LLC, a national retirement services firm based in Houston.  In a news release, the company says it provides workplace-based retirement products and services. Toomey retired from the U.S. Senate last year after serving for 12 years and was a representative in the U.S. House for six years before that.

The University of Pittsburgh says they are reviewing their emergency notification system following a delay in alerts surrounding the Monday night hoax shooter call.  Campus Police Chief Jim Loftus says he is responsible for holding up the notifications in an effort to  determine whether the report was credible, but he says that was not the right call.  Pitt Chancellor Patrick Gallagher has addressed the incident, saying the university’s emergency notification system is “insufficient”, and the problem stemmed from both technology and procedure.

The Pennsylvania State Police investigated 410 vehicle crashes which resulted in four fatalities and 110 injuries during the Easter holiday weekend. Alcohol was a factor in 31 crashes, none of which were fatal. Troopers arrested 329 motorists for driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs and issued 15,146 traffic citations during the three days beginning April 7. Troopers cited 5,344 motorists for speeding, 481 for failing to wear a seat belt, and 80 for not securing children in safety seats.

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