SCRANTON — A judge has ordered the city of Scranton to pay employees full wages, but the mayor says the cash-strapped government can't afford it.
Lackawanna County Judge Michael Barrasse on Friday granted an injunction to unions challenging Mayor Chris Doherty's decision to impose minimum wages to nearly 400 employees. The Times-Tribune of Scranton reports paychecks containing the minimum wage of $7.25 an hour had already been issued.
Doherty says he can't print money and that City Council has to fulfill the obligations of their budget. City Administrator Ryan McGowan says the city would have only $83,000 available after making a minimum-wage payroll of $311,000.
Union attorney Thomas Jennings says he will again file a motion seeking to hold the mayor in contempt of court if paychecks do not contain full wages.
AOPC recommends more oversight for child advocate
SCRANTON — The state court system's administrative arm says a child advocate system in a northeastern Pennsylvania county needs additional oversight, including better tracking of payments made by parents amid custody disputes.
The Administrative Office of Pennsylvania Courts recommends Lackawanna County court review its guardian ad litem program to ensure "judicial authority and discretion are not usurped."
Guardian ad litem Danielle Ross is the subject of a civil suit and a federal criminal probe over complaints from parents about how they've been treated. Some parents said Ross billed them hundreds of thousands of dollars for services they didn't want.
Judge Trish Corbett tells The Times-Tribune of Scranton the program lacked "proper checks and balances in places" and the recommendations would be implemented.
Ross' attorney didn't immediately return a phone message Friday.
Official wants to withdraw SS guilty plea
ERIE — Erie County Councilman Ebert Beeman wants to withdraw his federal court guilty plea to Social Security fraud.
The 63-year-old official, well-known for his ultra-libertarian views and related brushes with the law, is set to be sentenced July 20. County officials have said they planned to pursue his removal from office at that time.
The Erie Times-News reports Friday that Beeman and his new attorney now claim he's innocent and wishes to stand trial on charges to which he pleaded guilty in March.
Beeman had acknowledged using a fraudulent Social Security number and aliases to apply for two credit cards and two jobs since 2007 but, according to a new motion filed Friday, "firmly believes in his heart he is innocent of the charges levied against him."
He was elected to council in 2009.
Pittsburgh police union to track judge complaints
PITTSBURGH — Pittsburgh's police union has created a form officers can use to submit complaints about behavior or rulings by district judges.
The union plans to compile the information to decide which judges to endorse or oppose for re-election and to inform Allegheny County court officials of specific problems.
Court officials say police can already complain about allegations of improper behavior through the Judicial Conduct Board, which investigates such complaints and can prosecute judges through the state Court of Judicial Discipline.
Chief Deputy Court Administrator Claire Capristo says police and prosecutors can ask Common Pleas judges for higher bonds if they think a criminal suspect was wrongly released before trial.
Deputy Chief Paul Donaldson says the forms were approved to give officers a way to make specific, formal complaints instead of just "grumbling" about judges they don't like.
Police shoot man outside Philadelphia City Hall
PHILADELPHIA — A gun-wielding man described by Philadelphia police as having a history of mental illness has been shot by officers near City Hall.
Authorities say 22-year-old Amir Bey had fired randomly at a building, then on officers responding to the scene.
Bey was reportedly in critical condition after he was shot multiple times around 7 a.m. Friday.
Investigators say Bey fired twice through a window at the Masonic Temple on Penn Square. Police were called to the scene, and that's when they say he brandished a handgun and fired another shot. Officers returned fire.
Police closed streets surrounding the scene while they investigated. No other injuries were reported.
Ex-police in Philly charged in stolen pizza case
PHILADELPHIA — Two former Philadelphia police officers face charges in an off-duty shooting over a stolen pizza that led to a man's death.
Prosecutors said Friday that 39-year-old Chauncey Ellison has been charged with voluntary manslaughter and other offenses. His now-former girlfriend, 44-year-old Robin Fortune, is charged with conspiracy and related counts.
Ellison and Fortune were off duty in 2008 when their 14-year-old sons said they were robbed of a pizza. The officers went searching for the suspect, and authorities say Ellison ended up shooting a 19-year-old bystander.
Victim Lawrence Allen was paralyzed and died three months later. Ellison and Fortune were fired in 2010.
District Attorney Seth Williams brought the case to a grand jury, which recommended the charges. It's not clear if either defendant has a lawyer.
Rewritten redistricting plan challenged anew
HARRISBURG — The latest attempt to redraw Pennsylvania's state legislative district boundaries for the first time since 2001 is headed back to the state's highest court, which struck down a previous plan.
The state 20-member Senate Democratic minority caucus on Friday challenged the plan in state Supreme Court.
Meanwhile, another challenge is expected from an Allentown-area resident whose first lawsuit provided a crucial basis for the court's earlier rejection.
Redrawing legislative districts is required by the constitution to account for population shifts over the last decade.
This year's election was supposed to be based on a new plan.
But use of a new map will be delayed after the Supreme Court struck down a Republican-drawn plan in January, saying it contained unnecessary splits of municipalities and districts drawn into unusual shapes.