Category: Armstrong County Court House

Sheriff’s Office Arrests Two Following Anonymous Tip

Crystal Chop, 32

Mitchell Dongilli, 33

By Jonathan Weaver

An anonymous tip led the Armstrong County Sheriff’s Department into Kittanning Township yesterday morning for two arrests.

Sheriff Bill Rupert said he, along with sheriff deputies and State Police troopers, arrested Mitchell Dongilli, 33 of Vandergrift, and Crystal Chop, 32 of Kittanning, about 11AM Tuesday morning following a 9AM phone call.
“This morning, we received an anonymous tip on our “See Something, Say Something” hotline of two people that were staying in the apartments behind Super Shooters bar,” Sheriff Rupert said.

Sheriff Rupert said Dongilli and Chop, who were boyfriend and girlfriend, were wanted on bench warrants for failure to appear in court and were arrested at the apartment along Route 422 in Kittanning Township.

Westmoreland County Sheriff Jon Held said Dongilli’s bench warrant was issued December 6 after Dongilli failed to appear in the Court of Common Pleas to make a guilty plea.

According to the original criminal complaint, Dongilli was charged August 19 with robbery, escape, theft by unlawful taking and receiving stolen property during the annual Festa Italiana di Vander-grift.

Sheriff Held said that no additional charges will be filed against Held unless Armstrong County officials deem it necessary.

While he was initially caught in Vandergrift, Sheriff Held said Dongilli frequently moved between Westmoreland and Armstrong Counties.

Dongilli will be transferred to the Westmoreland County Jail in Greensburg later this week.

Chop’s bench warrant was issued by District Magisterial Judge Samuel Goldstrohm after she failed to appear to attest to charges of driving under the influence and two misdemeanor charges of endangering the welfare of children, along with the summary charge of not providing a proper child seat belt. Chop was initially arrested April 6.

Sheriff Rupert said deputies and police troopers had to forcibly enter the residence, but that Dongilli and Chop were arrested and incarcerated in the Armstrong County Jail without incident.
The “See Something, Say Something” tipline (which is the sheriff’s office at 724-548-3265) has been available to residents for about four weeks. Sheriff Rupert said the service is available 24 hours per day and is used often.

“We have received several tips on it, but this is one of the first ones we were able to act upon,” Sheriff Rupert said. “It was a good tip – we were able to act upon it right away. In doing so, we took two people wanted off the streets.”

He encouraged residents to continue calling if they see a dangerous situation.

“No matter how big or small they think it may be, anything they see that is suspicious or anyone they know is wanted, they can call the (anonymous) tipline and we’ll look into it,” Sheriff Rupert said.

Sheriff Held said Westmoreland County has also had success with anonymous tipsters, and looks forward to continuing the relationship with Armstrong County units when needed.

“We’ve had great success with both our anonymous tip line and our Facebook page,” Sheriff Held said.

Another plea court hearing for Dongilli has been scheduled for March 26 and a preliminary hearing for Chop is scheduled for next week.

East Franklin Man Pleads Guilty to Assault, Hiding from Police

Jason Lee Crawford


by Jonathan Weaver
An East Franklin Township man pled guilty to hitting another man in the head with a pipe wrench in September and causing him to get emergency medical treatment.

Jason Crawford, 36, pled guilty to that charge and for fleeing from State Police September 22 after an altercation in a trailer along Staley’s Court Road in Rayburn Township.

According to the criminal complaint filed by Trooper Chad Savannah of the Pennsylvania State Police stationed at the Kittanning barracks as read by District Attorney Scott Andreassi, a third-party contacted the state police barracks about 8:55PM September 22 in reference to an assault that was taking place along Staley’s Court Road. The victim – Timothy Bureau – told police at ACMH Hospital that Crawford hit him in the head twice with a pipe wrench, causing a skull fracture above his left eyebrow.

Crawford told Judge Panchik he entered Bureau’s trailer to demand money that was owed to him.

According to the criminal complaint, Crawford was to receive $70 for helping Bureau build a custom shed during the weekend, but only received $50. When Crawford demanded the money, Bureau related that he didn’t have the money and would have to break a larger bill and pay him the next day – which Crawford did not agree with.

“We got into an altercation and I grabbed the first thing that was available,” Crawford said.

Crawford then fled the trailer and ran into the woods near Lower Troy Hill Road in Kittanning with intent to avoid apprehension from police, which he confirmed.

Once apprehended, Crawford was held on $100,000 bond in the Armstrong County Jail for two counts of aggravated assault, simple assault, disorderly conduct, harassment, criminal mischief, criminal trespass, public drunkenness, driving with a suspended license and flight to avoid apprehension.

But, for agreeing to plead guilty to one of the aggravated assault charges and flight to avoid apprehension, Andreassi waived the rest of the charges and recommended Crawford be eventually incarcerated in the Armstrong County Jail for 1-2 years.

Before accepting the pleas, Judge Panchik told Crawford that the recommended sentence does not have to be implemented by the sentencing judge during his sentencing date April 10.

Crawford agreed that he pled guilty of his own free will and was not coerced or threatened to do so – which Judge Panchik also accepted.

Between the two felony crimes he pled guilty to Thursday, Crawford could spend a maximum of 17 years in jail, be fined $40,000 or serve both penalties.