EASTON — Ghana's ambassador to the United States says a planned diplomatic trip to a Pennsylvania town isn't the return of the king.
Ambassador Daniel Ohene Agyekum says John Quartey might be a chief, at best.
Quartey says he became king of the minority Ga people in April 2008. Stories about his planned trip back to Easton, where he graduated high school, drew the attention of Ghana's diplomats.
Agyekum tells The Morning Call of Allentown Quartey's claim of kinghood is "misleading and inaccurate." A Ga leader in the United States agrees, saying Quartey was elected as chief of a region near Ghana's capital.
Quartey says Africans lower themselves by using the word "chief" instead of "king."
King or not, Easton's mayor says Quartey will get a royal welcome when he comes to town June 29.
Somerset woman to trial on police bribery charges
SOMERSET — A southwestern Pennsylvania woman has been ordered to stand trial on charges she offered to bribe a police officer to avoid having her father's car towed and impounded after she was stopped and found to have a suspended license.
The Daily American of Somerset reports 29-year-old Lindsay Burrows, of Somerset, waived her right to a preliminary hearing Tuesday on charges stemming from the incident April 24 in Somerset.
Somerset Officer Christopher Pile says he stopped Burrows because he mistakenly believed she had some outstanding arrest warrants. In the process, however, he learned her license was suspended and told her he had to impound the car.
Burrows wanted to avoid that because the car belongs to her father. She was calling her mother for assistance when she allegedly asked Pile, "Do you take bribes? I've got money."
Man gets prison for hydroponic pot growing
WAYNESBURG — A southwestern Pennsylvania man has been sentenced to up to four-and-a-half years in prison for a sophisticated hydroponic marijuana growing operation in his home.
The Observer Reporter of Washington, Pa. reports 32-year-old Kevin Christopher was sentenced Tuesday in Greene County, where he had previously pleaded guilty to manufacturing marijuana and other charges stemming from a raid of his Waynesburg home in November 2010.
Police say they searched Christopher's home after trying repeatedly to serve him with a mental health warrant and finding signs that he had recently been in the home. When they got a search warrant to enter, police say the found 59 plants and other growing equipment. Police also found the electric meter in the house was bypassed, so grow lights Christopher could avoid paying to power growing lights and other equipment.
1 dog put down as 5 poisonings reported
MCKEESPORT — Humane officials now says the number of suspected dog poisonings in one Pittsburgh suburb has risen to five, including one dog who had to be euthanized as a result..
Officials with Animal Friends in McKeesport said earlier this week that three dogs on the same street are being treated for liver failure and other symptoms that suggest they've been poisoned in recent days. Now, the owners of two more dogs say their animals appear to have been poisoned, too.
One of the first dogs reported ill, a boxer named Vader, was put down Tuesday after he lost about 20 pounds since becoming ill around Memorial Day.
Blood tests have confirmed the dogs were likely poisoned, though the tests have not pinpointed what substance was used.
McKeesport is about 10 miles southeast of Pittsburgh.
3 ex-Consol Energy execs sued for trading
PITTSBURGH — The Securities and Exchange Commission has sued three former executives of western Pennsylvania's Consol Energy, charging they profited or avoided stock losses by using insider information about Consol's acquisition of a natural gas and oil exploration business.
The 15-page lawsuit contends the executives either sold their stock in advance or bought put option contracts involving their Consol stock just days before Consol announced a $3.74 billion deal to buy the Appalachian exploration business of Dominion Resources Inc.
The deal caused Consol's stock to drop 10 percent when it was announced in March 2010, so the SEC says the executives either made money or avoided losses because of the alleged insider trades.
The SEC says Consol terminated all three men when the company learned of the deals months later.
None of the men immediately returned calls to their homes Friday.
Fed judge signs pledge lawsuit settlement
PITTSBURGH — A federal judge in Pittsburgh has signed an order closing a lawsuit brought by a southwestern Pennsylvania girl who claimed she was disciplined for refusing to stand during the Pledge of Allegiance.
The Herald-Standard of Uniontown reports Wednesday that U.S. District Judge Mark Hornak ordered the case closed, though he'll remain jurisdiction to ensure the settlement between the Brownsville Area School District and the girl is enforced.
The settlement not only allows the 13-year-old student to sit during the pledge, it required the school board to announce that other students have that same right under the First Amendment.
The school board's solicitor tells the newspaper that the school board last week approved a $16,000 settlement, that will be paid by the district's insurance carrier.
Repairs to start for levee system damaged by Lee
WILKES-BARRE — Repairs are set to begin next month for the northeastern Pennsylvania levee system damaged by last fall's flooding brought on by the remnants of Tropical Storm Lee.
The Luzerne County Flood Protection Authority said Tuesday workers will begin more than $2 million in repairs and reinforcements to the Wyoming Valley Levee system in a couple weeks. The federal government is footing the bill.
The largest phase of repairs won't begin until October. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers says the levee is strong enough to withstand flooding if water levels rise before the work is finished.
The 15-mile levee system protects Wilkes-Barre and other communities along the Susquehanna River. The levee was damaged in September after the massive storm brought record flooding to the area.
4 cottage fires 'suspicious' near Conneaut Lake
CONNEAUT LAKE — Fire crews are starting to wonder if there's a connection between four cottage fires in the last three weeks near Conneaut Lake in northwestern Pennsylvania.
The first fire was reported on May 30 and the latest occurred early Tuesday.
Fire officials in Summit Township, Crawford County, say all the fires were reported between 2 a.m. and 5 a.m. and all appear to have been intentionally set in cottages that are either abandoned or weren't currently being used.
The Meadville Tribune reports Wednesday that one firefighter was overcome by heat battling a fire early Saturday, while another firefighter hurt his leg battling the fire on Tuesday.
State police troopers and a fire marshal are also investigating.
Conneaut Lake is about 85 miles north of Pittsburgh.
Teen convicted in state lawmaker mugging try
HARRISBURG — A central Pennsylvania teen has been convicted of robbery in the attempted mugging of a Pittsburgh-area state senator almost two years ago.
Eighteen-year-old Sharief Hand remains behind bars awaiting a July 24 sentencing for the September 2010 mugging of state Sen. Tim Solobay.
Prosecutors say Hand was one of four teens who approached the Washington County Democrat outside his Harrisburg apartment and demanded money. One was armed with a gun.
Hand was arrested nearby after Solobay, a volunteer firefighter, fought back and activated the sirens on his vehicle. Hand was 16 at the time of his arrest but charged as an adult.
Another teen suspected in the heist was acquitted last year.
Solobay thanked police and prosecutors for their handling of the case.
Highway officials approve Pa.-NJ toll bridge plan
PHILADELPHIA — The Federal Highway Administration has given final approval for a plan to install a toll bridge on Interstate 95 between Pennsylvania and New Jersey.
Officials gave final approval Tuesday to wrap up design work on the proposed $328 million bridge. The Delaware River Joint Toll Bridge Commission still needs to finalize design work, which could take another 18 months.
The new bridge would replace the currently free Scudder Falls Bridge that links Bucks County on the Pennsylvania side to Mercer County, New Jersey.
The Philadelphia Inquirer reports the replacement bridge would be an all-electronic toll system, with most drivers using the E-ZPass system. Drivers who don't use E-ZPass will get a bill in the mail.
Construction could start in September 2014 and take three to four years.
Gary Sinise plans benefit show for veteran
EASTON — Actor Gary Sinise will bring his band to a fundraiser for a Pennsylvania soldier who lost both legs and a hand while fighting in Afghanistan.
Sinise and his Lt. Dan Band will play at a benefit show in August for Adam Keys. The Army corporal from Whitehall Township, Northampton County was wounded in an insurgent attack in July 2010 that also killed four soldiers.
Sinise runs a foundation that builds custom homes for wounded veterans. One of Sinise's memorable roles was Lt. Dan Taylor, the amputee veteran in "Forrest Gump."
Keys says he's had more than 120 surgeries but he's "still here to bother everybody."
The show is scheduled for August 17 at the State Theatre in Easton.