Tuesday, March 31, 2015

POSTED: Tuesday, March 24, 2015, 3:26 PM
Don Tollefson (Ronnie Polaneczky)

Disgraced Philadelphia ex-sportscaster Don Tollefson deserves "a strict and grueling regimen of community service" instead of prison for fleecing hundreds of people out of thousands of dollars they paid for phony sports-travel packages, his attorney argued in a plea for mercy filed today in Bucks County.

Tollefson, 62, will be sentenced tomorrow morning before Judge Rea B. Boylan, after a jury in January found him guilty of theft and violations of state charity rules. Tollefson represented himself at trial, but attorney Robert Goldman, who assisted his defense, filed a sentencing memorandum yesterday urging Boylan to consider whether "one additional year of Tollefson staring at the mortar that binds cinder block walls somehow improves the lives of the victims, the public and those who are better served by a strict and grueling regimen of community service."

"Mr. Tollefson does not present a risk of recidivism and is a non-violent offender," Goldman wrote. "This defendant has the proven track record to do so much good when clarity of thought replaces the toxic mixture of alcohol and pills."

Dana DiFilippo @ 3:26 PM  Permalink |
POSTED: Tuesday, March 24, 2015, 11:51 AM

Police have identified a pedestrian who died this morning after two cars hit her in Bensalem as Christina Massie, 28, of Bensalem.

Massie was walking at the intersection of Street and Knights roads at 5:49 a.m. this morning when she was hit. Paramedics declared her dead at the scene.  The accident remains under investigation; police ask anyone who saw it or has information to call them at (215) 633-3700.

Dana DiFilippo @ 11:51 AM  Permalink |
POSTED: Tuesday, March 24, 2015, 11:43 AM

Bernard Rivas is a licensed counselor who specializes in helping teens in crisis.

But Montgomery County authorities say Rivas, 73, of Lansdale, caused a crisis for one 14-year-old girl who regularly visited him for counseling. The girl told Upper Gwynedd police in February that Rivas repeatedly touched her private areas during counseling sessions in his home office, according to Montgomery County District Attorney Risa Vetri Ferman. The girl was able to secretly photograph him twice touching her inappropriately, according to the D.A.'s Office.

Rivas was arrested March 19 and charged with endangering the welfare of children, corruption of minors and indecent assault, according to the D.A.'s Office. He posted $5,000 bail and faces a March 30 preliminary hearing before Montgomery County Magisterial District Judge Robert Sobeck.

Dana DiFilippo @ 11:43 AM  Permalink |
POSTED: Monday, March 23, 2015, 5:45 PM
Mary Pitts-Devine

The family of a West Philly woman who was critically injured by her neighbor has started an online fund to help pay for her medical costs.

Mary Pitts-Devine, 46, has been in the hospital since March 8, when her neighbor, Steven Outlaw, shot her eight times during an argument, police said.

After shooting her in the first-floor stairwell of the apartment building they both lived in, on Spruce Street near 45th, Outlaw, 53, walked into his apartment and fatally shot himself in the head.

Vinny Vella @ 5:45 PM  Permalink |
POSTED: Thursday, March 19, 2015, 3:06 PM
Brandon Smith, left, has been charged with the murder of James Stuhlman. Police are still looking for Tyfine Hamilton, 15, who they believe was the shooter.

Two boys, ages 14 and 15, have been charged in connection with the murder of a man who was out walking his dog in Overbrook last Thursday and police are still looking for the 15-year-old boy who was allegedly the gunman.

Homicide Capt. James Clark said Brandon Smith, 15, Tyfine Hamilton, 15, and a 14-year-old boy whose name was not released, were out playing basketball when they decided to rob someone Thursday night. They initially planned to rob another dog walker but then they spotted James Stuhlman, 51, who was older and whose dog appeared weaker so they changed their plan and went after him instead, Clark said.

Stuhlman, a married father, pleaded for his life, but during a struggle with the boys he was shot once in the chest and died around 8:30 p.m. on Woodcrest Avenue near 64th Street, police said. The boys took nothing from him.

Stephanie Farr @ 3:06 PM  Permalink |
POSTED: Wednesday, March 18, 2015, 10:41 PM
(6ABC Screenshot)

A Northeast Philly family was injured today after their new pet literally bit the hands that feed it.

Just before 5 p.m., a 33-year-old woman and her two kids — an 11-year-old boy and 10-year-old girl — were attacked by their pit-bull inside their apartment on Lansford Street near Eden, police said.

It’s unclear why the dog, which the family had adopted Monday, bit them, but it was enough to send the two kids running, screaming out of the home while their mother hid in a nearby bathroom, said Chief Inspector Scott Small, who responded to the scene.

Vinny Vella @ 10:41 PM  Permalink |
POSTED: Tuesday, March 17, 2015, 6:29 PM
On the spot where James Stuhlman died, someone placed a bouquet of white hydrangeas. (Aubrey Whelan/Inquirer Staff)

A man shot dead while walking his dog in Overbrook last week was the victim of an attempted robbery, according to police.

Homicide detectives believe James Stuhlman, 51, was approached by three men wearing hoodies and backpacks while out with his dog on Woodcrest Avenue near 64th Street late Thursday, Capt. James Clark, who oversees the Homicide Unit, said today.

The three suspects were initially following another individual, Clark said, but then, for reasons unclear, turned their attention to Stuhlman, who lives about a block away from where the shooting took place.

Vinny Vella @ 6:29 PM  Permalink |
POSTED: Tuesday, March 17, 2015, 4:40 PM
Philadelphia firefighters at the scene of a Dec. 9 rowhouse fire. Firefighter Joyce Craig died fighting the fire. ( ALEJANDRO A. ALVAREZ / Staff photographer )

After months of investigation, the Fire Marshal's Office has ruled the cause of the blaze that claimed the life of a city firefighter "undetermined."

In a release sent this afternoon, Fire Commissioner Derrick Sawyer said that the ruling comes after conducting "over 40 interviews as well as thoroughly inevstigating the scene for seven days."

The blaze broke out early Dec. 9 in the basement of a house on Middleton Street near Andrews Avenue in West Oak Lane. Lt. Joyce Craig became trapped in the home while fighting the fire and ultimately perished.

Vinny Vella @ 4:40 PM  Permalink |
About this blog

Philly Confidential, which covers crime in Philadelphia and the suburbs, is written by Daily News staffers Dana DiFilippo, Stephanie Farr, Vinny Vella and Morgan Zalot.

E-mail tips to DiFilippo at difilid@phillynews.com and follow her on Twitter here.

E-mail tips to Farr at farrs@phillynews.com and follow her on Twitter here.

E-mail tips to Vella at vellav@phillynews.com and follow him on Twitter here.

E-mail tips to Zalot at zalotm@phillynews.com and follow her on Twitter here.

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