Category: Armstrong County Court House

Parole Revoked Again for Manor Township Escapee

Three years ago, a Manor Township man was arrested for running from police while intoxicated during a traffic stop.

He was sentenced by Armstrong County President Judge Kenneth Valasek in February 2012 to serve in the Armstrong County Jail a maximum of six months – after a fourth parole violation, is again in prison.

Now 24 years old, Caleb Fitzgerald – formerly of Scout Run Road in Manor Township (Ford City) – ran from police during a traffic stop October 3, 2011.

According to the original police affidavit, officers first noticed a damaged head lamp on the passenger side of Fitzgerald’s green Dodge truck and stopped the vehicle at the intersection with Queen Street in Manor Township. It was then that officers smelled alcohol inside the vehicle and observed Fitzgerald with “red, glassy bloodshot eyes.”

After Fitzgerald and his two passengers exited the vehicle, officers observed in plain view a hypodermic needle and “a large amount” of empty stamp bags on the floor of the truck. While all three were being taken into custody, Fitzgerald fled the scene.

Nearby police units as well as state police troopers in Kittanning were notified of Fitzgerald’s escape. Later that day, officers chased Fitzgerald across a creek and searched for four hours in a wooded area – damaging police gear, including boots, pants and gun belt equipment – since state police aviation was unavailable.

Fitzgerald was found in a camper trailer along Creek Valley Road asleep and taken into custody.

In February 2012, Fitzgerald pled guilty to misdemeanor charges of escape, resisting arrest, driving under the influence and possession of drug paraphernalia, as well as a summary charge of public drunkenness waiving jury trial. He was sentenced later that month to not more than six months in the Armstrong County Jail and 18 months of probation, as well as restitution and other fines.

A bench warrant was issued for Fitzgerald’s arrest in May – and Judge Valasek ordered parole be revoked initially – but a subsequent order ordered Fitzgerald to serve time at the Cove Forge residential treatment center in Williamsburg (Blair County) to treat drug and alcohol use.

But, Fitzgerald was wanted again twice in 2013, and ordered to serve up to two years in the Armstrong County Jail (with credit for serving nearly 230 days, or more than seven months).

His most recent bench warrant issued in August was vacated at the end of September, and Fitzgerald remanded to serve the remainder of his sentence in the Armstrong County Jail without receiving credit for street time.

Man Involved in St. Patrick’s Day 2013 Beating Sentenced to Jail

Armstrong County Sheriff Deputy Adam McGinnis (left) and Sheriff Bill Rupert lead Otilio Cosme to a patrol vehicle to escort him to the Armstrong County Jail shortly after 2PM Thursday afternoon. A total of five deputy sheriffs were in the courtroom yesterday due to the family’s involvement.

by Jonathan Weaver

One of the four men involved with the fatal beating of a Chicora man in March 2013 at a Kittanning bar was sentenced to the Armstrong County Jail yesterday.

Otilio Cosme of Ford City was sentenced to serve 18-36 months in jail following the death of James Sullivan of Chicora outside the Wick City Saloon in Kittanning.
Cosme already completed more than 550 days of house arrest since his arrest in March 2013, under the supervision of Armstrong County probation officers.

Three members of the Sullivan Family – two of his sisters and his mother – testified before the final judgment by Judge James Panchik at the Armstrong County Courthouse.

“He played a very big part in everyone’s life – including mine,” sister, Michele said.

Older sister, Frances, testified James was there for all of his friends and family before his death.

“It’s been horrible not having him in our life,” Frances said.

“This is really hard,” mother, Rose Sullivan, said. “I had five daughters and only one son, and he was unjustly taken away.”

“Everything in my house relates to my son – I got rid of his dog because he would bring me things of his,” Rose continued. “I don’t think these people know what they took from us.”

A written statement was also received by Judge Panchik by other sister, Rosie.

Cosme’s attorney, Anthony Urti of Geary and Loperfito, LLC of Vandergrift, said his client has been very cooperative with probation officers and maintained a clean record score.

“The court takes that into account in imposing sentence, but I don’t find it as a mitigating factor,” Judge Panchik said. “(But) There have been prior involvements.”

Cosme pled guilty to first-degree misdemeanor involuntary manslaughter in August in exchange for charges of felony criminal homicide, simple assault and aggravated assault and recklessly endangering another person being dropped by District Attorney Scott Andreassi. For the individual charge, the standard range of sentencing is three to 12 months of probation.

Judge Panchik explained why his ruling did not fall in the standard range.

“The victim was unconscious when the fatal blow was delivered. The court views the circumstances surrounding the killing of this victim as extreme,” Panchik later continued. “Considering all these factors, I find that you are in need of correctional treatment.”

The case has been extended due to several motions for continuation – including one as recent as Tuesday. That motion was denied since Judge Panchik said the matter required prompt disposition.

“Not only for the family of the victims, but for you,” Judge Panchik said, looking at Cosme.

Urti opposed the sentence, as did many members of the Cosme Family in the courtroom Thursday. However, Armstrong County Judge James Panchik Cosme’s sentence is to begin “immediately.”

Cosme will receive credit for the 72 days he was confined in jail until he was released on bail May 31, 2013.

Cosme will pay applicable court costs, pay restitution without future contact with the Sullivan family or the co-defendants, and perform 100 hours of community service.

All residents sentenced were able to request a re-trial or re-sentence as well as write for an appeal before the Superior Court.

Another of the four men involved in the case – Dennis Rosenberger, now of Ford City – was also sentenced to 36-72 months in prison on felony and misdemeanor charges late last month.