Thursday, October 20, 2016

Christopher Leasure, 45, with B.J. Baldwin Electric Inc., electrocuted to death at the East Penn Manufacturing plant in Berks County

RICHMOND TWP., Pa. - Authorities have identified the man who died on the job in Berks County on Wednesday. 

Christopher Leasure was doing electrical work at the East Penn Manufacturing plant at 147 Deka Road in Richmond Township when he came in contact with a high-voltage wire, officials said. 

Leasure, 45, of East Cocalico Township, Lancaster County, was rushed to Lehigh Valley Hospital near Allentown, where he died shortly before 12:30 p.m. Wednesday, according to the Lehigh County coroner. 

An autopsy done Thursday morning determined Leasure's death to be accidental as the result of electrocution, the coroner said. 

Leasure was a contractor working for B.J. Baldwin Electric Inc. in Narvon and not an East Penn employee, according to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), which said it had an inspector on site Thursday to investigate the incident.
East Penn’s extensive product line includes more than 450 types of batteries and related products serving four key segments: SLI (Starting, Lighting, and Ignition), Motive Power, Stationary, and Wire and Cable. These products are supported with the industry’s most advanced recycling facilities where used lead-acid batteries are recycled and reclaimed on-site in the production of brand new battery products.

East Penn announced the progression of their new Industrial expansion building. The building is targeted to have equipment running in August of this year. This new 590,000 square foot expansion will be a multi-functional facility helping to produce products and components for Motive Power, Reserve Power, and Automotive batteries.


Kurt Bresswein | For
updated October 20, 2016 at 9:18 PM

An electrical contractor working at a Berks County manufacturing site was electrocuted Wednesday, WFMZ-TV 69 reports.

Christopher Leasure, 45, of Denver, Lancaster County, came into contact with a high-voltage wire Wednesday morning at 147 Deka Road in the Fleetwood, Pennsylvania, area, according to Lehigh County Coroner Scott Grim.

Leasure was rushed to Lehigh Valley Hospital, Salisbury Township, where he was pronounced dead at 12:29 p.m.

Following an autopsy Thursday, Grim said the cause of death was electrocution and that he ruled the death an accident.

Leasure was working for B.J. Baldwin Electric Inc. at East Penn Manufacturing when the incident occurred, WFMZ reports.

a massive fire at a Gilbert, AZ construction site on Saturday was intentionally set.

Officials say Gilbert condo was deliberately set on fire

Sources: Massive fire at Gilbert construction site being investigated as arson staff, wire reports
3:06 PM, Oct 20, 2016


Law enforcement officials are confirming that a massive fire at a Gilbert construction site on Saturday was intentionally set.

Law enforcement sources said Thursday that they are continuing to investigate the case of arson.

It took 150 firefighters to put out the fire, which completely destroyed an apartment complex under construction near Gilbert and Guadalupe roads.

Footage from the scene showed the site had become an inferno, with smoke and flames visible for miles.

Crews from the Chandler and Mesa fire departments also responded to assist.

Firefighters say flames tore through eight buildings and melted playground equipment, but fortunately, no injuries were reported.

Damage is estimated at $10 million.

Witnesses told authorities that a man, between 16 and 22 years old, was spotted in the area wearing a maroon Arizona State University sweatshirt and dark-colored shorts.

Fire officials are hoping to speak with him for additional information regarding the blaze. He was wearing long socks and Vans-like shoes. He had shaggy brown hair to the bottom of his ears, long bangs and no facial hair.

Gilbert Police and Fire Departments are offering a $30,000 reward for information leading to the arrest of the person, or persons, responsible.

Insurance fraud trial of Kingston dentist: Gilberto Nunez has been charged with insurance fraud, grand larceny and five counts of falsifying business records, all felonies, in the insurance case.

Tax testimony muddies insurance fraud trial of Kingston dentist Nunez
Defendant Gilberto Nunez, right, leans in to speak with his lawyer, Evan Lipton, on Tuesday in Ulster County Court. Tani Barricklo — Daily Freeman file

By Patricia Doxsey, Daily Freeman

Posted: 10/20/16, 6:44 PM EDT 

KINGSTON, NY.   Jurors in Ulster County Court can expect to hear closing arguments Friday in the trial of a Kingston dentist charged with swindling his insurance company out of thousands of dollars.

But first, County Judge Donald A. Williams will have to decide whether jurors will be allowed to consider as part of their deliberations the Thursday testimony of William Negron, an accountant who prepared the tax returns for Gilberto Nunez.

Prosecutors claim Nunez defrauded his insurance company by claiming that, as a result of a fire at a building he owned at 381-385 Washington Ave. in Kingston, he lost $8,400 in rental income. Nunez, who was acquitted of murder in June in the death of his ex-lover’s husband, has been charged with insurance fraud, grand larceny and five counts of falsifying business records, all felonies, in the insurance case.

Negron was called to the witness stand Thursday by Orange County Senior Assistant District Attorney Maryellen Albanese, the special prosecutor in the case, in an effort to prove Nunez didn’t claim the rental income he contends he received for the Washington Avenue building, which was next to his dental office, in 2013 or 2014.

Nunez claimed he received $1,200 a month in rent from Matthew Topple to use the first floor of the building for office space and storage of his construction equipment.

On Wednesday, Topple testified he signed a lease for the space, but he said he was signing it as “a friend,” was unaware of its terms and never paid Nunez for the space. Topple, who also rented an apartment from Nunez in a separate building, also testified that he paid his rent in cash and often would barter with Nunez for reduced or free rent. He testified that he completed several major construction projects for Nunez during the roughly four years he rented from the dentist, and said that, during that time, paid cash for only about two years worth of rent.

On Thursday, Albanese painstakingly stepped Negron through tax returns, balance sheets and worksheets the accountant said he prepared for Nunez and his corporation, Godsent Properties LLC.

On one document, Negron highlighted three $875 rental payments for an apartment, $14,000 in rental income for Nunez’s dental office and $15,732 that Negron said were real estate taxes that were considered rent.

Another document indicated $5,400 in rental income from outside sources and $42,000 in rental income paid by Nunez to Godsent Properties.

But under cross-examination, Negron testified that while he was aware that Nunez and Topple had a barter arrangement for rental payments, only the cash rental payments were accounted for in Nunez’s tax returns.

When he conceded under questioning by defense attorney Evan Lipton that not including the value of the barter as income was a “mistake,” Williams immediately halted Negron’s testimony, cleared the courtroom, warned Negron that the defense was asking questions that could result in criminal charges against Negron and advised him of his constitutional rights against self-incrimination.

Later in the day, Negron returned to court with attorney Russell Schindler, who indicated he advised his client “to invoke his Fifth Amendment rights not to answer any questions.”

Unable to proceed with his cross-examination, Lipton asked that Williams strike all of Negron’s testimony from the record, saying his client was being denied the right to challenge documents in evidence.

While Williams declined Lipton’s request Thursday, the judge, clearly exasperated with the prosecution, chastised Albanese for not anticipating questions pertaining to handwritten notes written by her witness on documents she introduced into evidence.

“This issue has come in front of the this court for no legitimate reason that I have heard without any advance notice to the court,” Williams said to Albanese.

“I would certainly hope that the prosecution would look at its own exhibits,” the judge said, adding that “how [the defense’s line of questioning] cannot be anticipated is beyond any understanding of the court.”

Williams said he would rule on Lipton’s request Friday, after both sides had the chance to make arguments supporting their positions.

Nunez was paid $180,000 from Preferred Mutual for losses sustained in the February 2014 fire. Included in that amount is the $8,400 the prosecution claims Nunez received by falsely claiming rental income on vacant space.

Frank Emmerich, a special investigator for Preferred Mutual, testified under cross-examination Thursday that the insurance company didn’t question Nunez’s claim of lost rent and did not file the complaint alleging the dentist received the payment under false pretenses.

Nunez was acquitted in June of murdering his former lover’s husband, Thomas Kolman, in November 2011, but he was found guilty of two felony counts of possession of a forged instrument for having a fake CIA identification card on his computer and for giving his former lover a letter purporting to be from a CIA agent.

Williams has said he will not sentence Nunez for the forged instrument convictions until after the insurance fraud trial, as well as an upcoming trial for perjury, offering a false instrument for filing and making an apparently sworn false statement in connection to allegedly filing false information while applying for a pistol permit.

The fraud trial is to reconvene at 9:30 a.m. Friday.

Defective Takata air bag blamed for 11th death in Califormia


The Takata building, an automotive parts supplier in Auburn Hills, Mich. is seen on Wednesday, Oct. 22, 2014.

Updated 2 hrs 13 mins ago
NEW YORK -- The defective Takata air bag inflator -- found in nearly every major car brand -- has claimed yet another victim, according to federal regulators.

On Thursday night, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said it came to the conclusion after investigating a recent crash in California. That brings to 11 the number of deaths blamed on Takata airbags.

Nearly 70 million airbags in U.S. cars have been or will be recalled as part of a massive safety scandal enveloping Takata since 2014.

The airbags have been known to explode. Instead of softening the impact of a crash, they have sprayed metal shrapnel into the bodies of drivers and front seat passengers. Victims appear to have been shot or stabbed, according to police who responded to the accidents.

Cars in humid regions are especially susceptible to this defect.

As of last month, 11 people have died -- and more than 100 have been injured.

The latest death involved a 50-year-old woman, according to NHTSA. She was driving just east of Los Angeles on Friday, September 30, when her car crashed and the airbag failed to deploy correctly.

Her 2001 Honda Civic had been recalled in 2008.

"Records show that the recall repair was never completed," NHTSA reported.
In June, federal regulators listed the 2001 Honda Civic among several aging vehicles that drivers should stop driving immediately because the risk of malfunctioning airbags was so great.

The vast majority of those who have died because of the Takata defect were driving Acura and Honda vehicles made in 2001, 2002 and 2003, according to NHTSA.

The Takata defect has led to the largest auto recall of all time. It covers 1 out of every 7 cars on American roads today.

However, the problem is set to persist for several years.

Millions of people have been forced to keep driving cars that pose a deadly risk because there aren't enough replacement airbags to make all the necessary repairs until 2019, according to NHTSA.

And new cars are still being built with flawed Takata airbags, according to a report by the U.S. Senate.

Massive 4-Alarm Fire in San Francisco's Castro District Also Fed by Gas Leak, Damages 3 Homes, 1 EMS personnel injured

Powerful gas leak fuels 4-alarm fire in San Francisco's Castro District

San Francisco crews battled a fire in the Castro District that was dangerous not only because of the flames, but also a powerful gas leak. (KGO-TV)
San Francisco crews battled a fire in the Castro District that was dangerous not only because of the flames, but also a powerful gas leak.

In the end, five firefighters were hurt and seven people are out of their homes.

Crews are still on the scene hours later to make sure there are no more flames or gas ruptures.

Investigators are now working to determine the cause. They believe it started in the garage but there's so much damaged debris to sift through, it could take a while to figure out exactly what started it.

The fire was huge and could be seen from several blocks away. That caused some confusion for firefighters as they tried to find it.

They were given three different locations from callers to 911, but once they found it on Hattie Street at Market, they knew it was a big one.

They called for a fourth alarm.

One of the major problems greeted them at the front door. "The gas line was ruptured right where we enter into the building, the front door there. There was a lot of fire throughout the building at that point so they had trouble making entry into the building," SFFD Batt. Chief Paul Crawford said.

Witnesses say that just when they thought it was dying down, the gas-fed fire kept roaring.

"I went to my rooftop and then I saw this huge fire coming from this side and then I stayed and watched for about another 10 minutes. Whenever I thought the flame had gone out and then it got worse. The flames just started getting really, really bad," witness Yen Phan said.

Five adults and two children had to run out of their burning homes around 12:15 a.m. Thursday. Three homes were damaged but everyone made it out OK.

The fire burned for a while. "We initially saw some low flames but they billowed and flared up very, very quickly. The flames went very high very quickly and they lasted for about an hour," witness Marion Delaney said.

About 100 firefighters responded to the scene and five were hurt.

"There was one severe injury. One of our firefighter paramedics was fighting the fire and fell over, caught himself and broke his wrist pretty bad. The rest were all minor injuries - cuts, bruises," SFFD Batt. Chief Charles Crane said.

As neighbors stop by to look at the damage, they just can't believe the destruction here and just what a total loss of these total homes. One on the corner was a historical building.

As far as the gas main problems, firefighters say it's pretty common for a fire to melt and burn systems that go in and out of a home.

They have all of the gas leaks capped and are trying to figure out what role this played in the cause of the fire.

An Elite Transit school bus collides with pickup truck in Raleigh, NC

OCTOBER 20, 2016
RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – A school bus was involved in a collision with a pickup truck Thursday afternoon near the intersection of Diquedo and Skycrest drives.

Elite Transit confirms one of its buses was involved in the crash.

There were no injuries, the company confirmed.

CBS North Carolina will update this story as more information becomes available.

Hankins Lumber Co. faces serious violations, $80K in penalties after OSHA finds Mississippi sawmill's safety failures led to worker's death

October 20, 2016

OSHA finds Mississippi sawmill's safety failures led to worker's death
Hankins Lumber Co. faces serious violations, $80K in penalties

GRENADA, Miss. - An employer that fails to follow safety standards leaves workers like Charlie Cummins, Jr. to suffer the consequences.

On May 4, 2016, the saw operator with more than 20 years with Hankins Lumber Co. was attempting to adjust a pin stuck in the up position on an infeed table of a gang saw. Suddenly, unguarded sprocket on a rotating shaft entangled his clothes, leaving him pinned against the equipment and unable to breathe fully. Cummins then lost consciousness. Taken to a local hospital after others freed him, the 56-year-old man later died of his injuries

The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration investigated and found his employer failed to ensure proper machine guards and emergency shut-off procedures were in place. The agency issued 12 serious and three other-than-serious safety and health violations to Hankins Lumber.

"Had Hankins Lumber met its responsibilities to protect its workers, Charlie Cummins would not have died needlessly," said Eugene Stewart, OSHA's area director in the Jackson Office. "Every employer must ensure equipment is guarded and safety procedures are operational in the event of an emergency."

OSHA issued the serious citations to the employer for its failure to:
  • Utilize safety procedures to turn off equipment in an emergency.
  • Close unused openings in electrical cabinets.
  • Provide machine guarding on shafts, pulleys and belts.
  • Provide confined space training.
  • Provide standard railings on open sided floors and platforms.
  • Provide a safety latch on the hoist hook.

Other violations include no hazard assessment certification, not posting confined space signs by the boiler and failing to have a written hazard communication program.

OSHA has proposed $80,937 in penalties. You can view the citations at:

Based in Grenada, the sawmill manufactures kiln dried yellow pine lumber and employs approximately 200 workers. The employer has 15 business days from receipt of its citations and proposed penalties to comply, request a conference with OSHA's area director or contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.

To ask questions; obtain compliance assistance; file a complaint; or report amputations, eye loss, workplace hospitalizations, fatalities or situations posing imminent danger to workers, the public should call OSHA's toll-free hotline at 800-321-OSHA (6742) or the agency's Jackson Area Office at 601-965-4606.

Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, employers are responsible for providing safe and healthful workplaces for their employees. OSHA's role is to ensure these conditions for America's working men and women by setting and enforcing standards, and providing training, education and assistance. For more information, visit

# # #

Officials from Hankins Lumber Co. announced that the company is reopening its southern yellow pine lumber facility in Grenada, Miss. following a 15 month closure due to the downturn in the economy. The project includes a $1.5 million investment and is creating 120 jobs, many of which will be filled by former employees.

“We are pleased that we are able to reopen our facility and bring our employees back to work,” says Al Hankins, Hankins Lumber Company President. “It was difficult to have to close the operation down for any length of time, but with the resurgence of the housing market and the renewed demands for timber products, we believe it now makes economic sense to reinvest in the business. We are eager to hire our employees back and get started.”

The Mississippi Development Authority provided assistance in support of the project to refurbish a rail spur that services the company’s site. Grenada County provided assistance for the project as well.

Hankins Lumber Co. began operations in 1972. The company uses southern yellow pine from throughout the state of Mississippi to produce its dimension lumber and boards.

For more information visit:

Ivan Valdes, 46, a fired Miami International airport maintenance chief, pleads guilty in $5 million light-bulb fraud case

Ivan Valdes, 46, Fired airport maintenance chief pleads guilty in $5 million light-bulb fraud case

Ivan Valdes, a senior manager who is the director of the airport’s terminal maintenance division, was charged with bribery, bid tampering and money laundering. The 46-year-old pleaded not guilty to the charges early Friday, according to court records. Matias J. Ocner The Miami Herald

By Jay Weaver

Ivan Valdes, who rose from cutting grass to managing a large maintenance division at Miami International Airport, pleaded guilty on Wednesday in federal court to running a racket that stole millions from a light-bulb procurement program.

Arrested last month, Valdes was charged with steering nearly $9 million worth of high-tech bulb sales to a Miami-Dade Aviation Department vendor and a distributor in cahoots with him.

Valdes and a retired airport executive pocketed $2.2 million from the inflated sales, prosecutors said in a factual statement filed with the defendant’s plea agreement.

Valdes, 46, faces up to seven years in federal prison on the theft conviction at his sentencing in early January, according to his defense attorney, Sam Rabin. He said the defendant's related bribery offense in state circuit court would ultimately be incorporated into the same punishment.

“Mr. Valdes is sincerely remorseful for his conduct in this matter, and for that reason he chose to admit his guilt and accept the consequences of his actions,” Rabin said after his client’s plea hearing.

Valdes regularly collected grocery bags full of kickback money in an airport parking lot, according to charging documents. And while he earned $98,000 at his county job, he owned a Porsche, rented sky boxes for concerts and wore hand-tailored Sartori Amici suits.

MIA, a county-owned airport with a budget of $1 billion, promoted Valdes in 2015 to director of terminal maintenance with 100 employees in what federal prosecutor Jeffrey Kaplan said would also be the final year of a scam that began in 2010.

Valdes was apparently able to thwart the county’s inspector general at MIA by conspiring with both a light-bulb seller and a supplier who manipulated wholesale prices to keep other vendors out of the procurement process.

Valdes oversaw 20 bulk bulb purchases over five years, and prosecutors said each contract went to a Miami company that was part of the scheme: Global Electrical & Lighting Supplies, owned by Rolando Perez.

Global Electric bought its bulbs from Municipal Lighting Systems, a local distributor for General Electric. Municipal Lighting's Roy J. Bustillo was also charged in the scheme. Prosecutors said he gave inflated quotes to Global Electric competitors in order to keep honest vendors from winning the MIA contracts that Valdes supervised.

In all, MIA purchased about 9,000 LED bulbs through Global Electric, lights used to illuminate the pick-up and drop-off areas outside the terminals and parking garages. The airport paid $8.8 million for LED lights. They were worth only about $3.5 million, so Valdes and the other co-conspirators defrauded the county’s aviation department of almost $5.2 million, according to the factual statement filed with his plea agreement.

Federal prosecutors filed conspiracy charges against Valdes, Bustillo, 37, and Perez, 57, along with a fourth co-conspirator, Jose Barroso, 51. He was a former MIA executive alleged to have helped Valdes arrange the scheme in 2010, three years after retiring from the county.

Charging documents filed in state circuit court describe Valdes summoning Barroso back to the airport that year for a meeting about MIA's interest in replacing thousands of bulbs. Barroso said Valdes brought up a new lighting contract, and asked: “What's in it for me?”

Barroso served as the middle man in the transactions, according to prosecutors, delivering as much as $50,000 cash in grocery bags to Valdes, who would take a break from work to meet him in an airport parking lot.

One of the workers injured in an explosion of Gorman's Tanker Truck at the Mohawk Asphalt Emulsions in Glenville, NY on Monday has died.

Plant Worker Dies After Injuries Sustained in Glenville Truck Explosion

By TWC News Web Staff
Thursday, October 20, 2016 at 10:39 AM EDT


Tanker Truck Explodes at Plant in Glenville, 3 Workers Injured
Updated 10/17/2016 06:37 PM

One of the people injured in an explosion at an asphalt plant in Glenville on Monday has died.

The attorney for Gorman's Asphalt Plant says 56 year-old Joe Nichols died from his injures late night at Westchester Medical Center.

Nichols was a 24 year employee with the company.

The DEC says a tanker truck exploded when a valve was being heated and the vapors ignited.

One of the other employees injured remains in the hospital in critical but stable condition. 


One of the three men injured during a tanker explosion in the Capital Region on Monday has died, an attorney for his employer has announced.

Joe Nichols died Wednesday night after sustaining serious injuries in the Glenville blast, WRGB-TV reported.

The tanker truck, owned by the Oklahoma-based Gorman Group, exploded at Mohawk Asphalt Emulsions while unloading material used to make asphalt.

"I believe they were doing something with a valve of the tanker and it created a spark and that's what started the fire," Thomas Corners Fire Chief Gregg Petricca said earlier this week. "They were off-loading a kerosene-diesel-fuel-tar mix. Basically, it's tar cut with kerosene."

Two men injured in the explosion are still alive. One was treated and released from the hospital earlier in the week. Another man remains in critical condition at the Westchester Burn Unit.

The explosion took place near the construction site for the new Rivers Casino & Resort.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration is investigating the blast.

Glenville Fire Control Audio of emergency crews and helicopter being dispatched to the scene via Broadcastify. Audio has been edited for time.