An Ellwood City man has pled guilty yin federal court to a charge of attempted production and production of material depicting the sexual exploitation of a minor. 63 year old David Bates pleaded guilty to one count before United States District Judge J. Nicholas Ranjan.  Authorities said that in or between July 2020 and October 2020, Bates and another individual attempted to and did use, persuade, induce entice and coerce a minor to engage in sexually explicit conduct for the purpose of producing visual depictions of the minor engaged in such conduct.  The law provides for a total sentence of not less than 15 years and not more than 30 years in prison, a fine of up to $250,000, or both.

Deliberations have begun in the trial of Robert Bowers.  Bowers is facing more than 60 felony charges in connection with the shooting deaths of 11 people inside the Tree of Life synagogue in October of 2018.  Prosecution and defense attorneys presented their closing arguments on Thursday and jurors got to work at around 2:30 p.m.  Hours later, the jury left the courthouse with instructions to return today.

A young man is dead following a two-vehicle crash in Butler County yesterday morning.  State police say 20-year-old Owen Lessner, of Worthington, was killed around 6:30 a.m. when the vehicle he was driving drifted left-of-center along New Castle Road in Franklin Township, striking another car head-on.  Authorities report the driver of the second vehicle was transported to Butler Memorial Hospital with non-life-threatening injuries.  The crash remains under investigation, according to PSP.

State Police in Beaver County have arrested two men in connection with a pair of recent robberies in the county. 58 year old Tyrone Johnson and 39 year old Michael Young, both from Midland are accused of robbing two Dollar General stores. The first occurred on May 27th at the Dollar General on Frankfort Road in Raccoon Township. The second robbery took place at the Dollar General on route 168 in Greene Township on June 13th.  Both men face a number of charges.

The state House in Pennsylvania has passed two bills that would cut taxes for lower-income families. The first bill expands the state’s childcare tax credit. The second establishes a state-level earned income tax credit, which would reduce taxes for lower-income families. Both measures won votes from Republicans in the House as they were voting, suggesting that the measures could make headway in the state Senate, which is controlled by the GOP. Legislative analysts say tax credits would cost the state nearly 234-million dollars for fiscal year 2024.

Police report that seven men are facing charges in connection with a fight last Friday at Rivers Casino.  The incident happened near a bank of slot machines and earned the group lifetime bans from the casino.  Police say it appears the fight involved two separate groups of people who had animosity for each other.

A Farrell man was sentenced to 60 months in federal prison for conspiring to distribute crack cocaine and to launder drug trafficking proceeds.  Federal authorities said 31 year old Eugene Phillips, was detained at the Mercer County Jail because of state crack cocaine trafficking charges. The charges were pending until April 27, 2021, when he was convicted and sentenced to serve 27-54 months in state prison. During that time period, both prior to and after his state conviction and sentence, Phillips kept trafficking crack cocaine from the Mercer County Jail. Law enforcement agencies from Lawrence and Mercer Counties assisted in the investigation.

The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection is placing the entire state under a drought watch.  Officials are asking residents and business operators to conserve water and reduce usage that is not essential.  DEP suggests running dishwashers or laundry machines less often and only with full loads, taking shorter showers, and avoiding watering lawns and outdoor plants when possible. 

The House Health Committee has approved a bill that would create a statewide program to erase medical debt. Local and county-level debt programs already exist, but supporters say the initiative would be the first of its kind at the state level.  Sponsoring lawmakers say about a million Pennsylvania residents would qualify as being under the income threshold in the bill. They estimate that there’s about four-billion-dollars in medical debt in the state that could be covered. 

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