National Roundup

Pennsylvania
Police: Nun, 78, shoplifted coffee, soap and snacks

BERWICK, Pa. (AP) — State police say a 78-year-old nun was caught shoplifting $23 worth of coffee, snacks and toiletries from a central Pennsylvania store.

Troopers say Sister Agnes Pennino was seen taking the items from the Surplus Outlet near Berwick on Monday afternoon.

WNEP-TV reports police determined the woman captured on surveillance video was the nun who lived about 20 miles away at a convent in Danville.

The station says Saints Cyril and Methodius Convent officials declined to comment. Nobody answered the phone at the convent Thursday morning.

Shoplifting is a summary offense, akin to a traffic ticket, meaning the nun will likely pay a fine if she’s convicted.

Store manager Zane Kishbach says he “couldn’t believe it that a nun would actually do something like that.”

California
Mom who buried baby alive gets 14 years in prison

COMPTON, Calif. (AP) — A woman who buried her newborn daughter alive in a Los Angeles suburb has been sentenced to 14 years in state prison.

Thirty-three-year-old Porche Washington was sentenced Wednesday after pleading no contest to attempted murder and causing great bodily injury to the infant.

Authorities say Washington hid her pregnancy from family and friends before giving birth last November. Days after she was released from the hospital, Washington placed the girl in a hole near a Compton riverbed and left her.

Two sisters walking on a nearby bike path heard the child’s cries and called authorities, who found the infant wrapped in a hospital blanket under loose dirt and chunks of asphalt.

Los Angeles County has a “safe surrender” law allowing mothers to anonymously leave newborns at hospitals and fire stations.

Massachusetts
Getaway driver in $400 Girl Scout cookie heist pleads guilty

NORTHAMPTON, Mass. (AP) — A second man has pleaded guilty to his role in the theft of more than $400 from a group of Girl Scouts selling cookies at a Massachusetts store.

Cassidy Michalski, of Deerfield, was sentenced to three years of probation after pleading guilty Wednesday to theft, assault and battery with a deadly weapon and shoplifting. The Daily Hampshire Gazette reports that the first charge was downgraded from unarmed robbery in a plea deal.

Authorities say Michalski served as the getaway driver after Nicholas Taverna stole a cash box from the 11- and 12-year-old scouts selling cookies at a Walmart in January 2013.

Prosecutors say the men had planned to steal cellphones from the store to sell for heroin money.

Taverna received the same sentence earlier this week.

Pennsylvania
3 friars in abuse case removed from duties

HOLLIDAYSBURG, Pa. (AP) — Three Franciscan friars charged in Pennsylvania with allowing a suspected sexual predator to hold jobs where he molested more than 100 children have been removed from their religious assignments in Florida and Minnesota.

Friars Robert D’Aversa, Anthony Criscitelli and Giles Schinelli are scheduled to surrender Friday on child endangerment and conspiracy charges. They’re accused of assigning or allowing Brother Stephen Baker to remain at Bishop McCort High School, where he molested scores of students from 1992 to 2000.

Baker killed himself in 2013 when Ohio church officials announced settlements involving students molested there in the 1980s.
The Rev. Patrick Quinn heads the Franciscan monastery near Hollidaysburg. He has removed Schinelli and D’Aversa from assignments in the Orlando, Florida, diocese and Criscitelli from pastoring a parish in Minneapolis.

The friars haven’t commented.

Washington
Man to return millions to ­people for online prayers

SEATTLE (AP) — A Seattle man running a so-called Christian prayer website and other businesses will return millions of dollars to consumers nationwide who paid for prayers, the Washington state attorney general said.

As part of an agreement, Benjamin Rogovy will pay back as much as $7.75 million to approximately 165,000 customers who were victims of Rogovy’s deceptive business practices in several companies he ran, Attorney General Bob Ferguson said Wednesday.

Rogovy used systematic deception in his operation of the Christian Prayer Center, creating fake religious leaders and posting false testimonials on its website to entice people to pay from $9 to $35 for prayers, Ferguson said. The attorney general says Rogovy collected over $7 million from consumers between 2011 and 2015 and that his actions violate the state Consumer Protection Act.

“What I will not tolerate is unlawful businesses that prey upon people —taking advantage of their faith or their need for help— in order to make a quick buck,” Ferguson said in a news release.

The Christian Prayer Center website, now shut down, showed a message Wednesday saying it is now closed, with links to other prayer sites it says it’s not affiliated with.

“We thank you for all the prayers, and we cherish the opportunity to have created a place where Christians could meet to support each other,” the message said.

A message left for Rogovy at the business number on its still functioning Facebook page was not immediately returned.

Ferguson says Rogovy also used deceptive and unfair business practices to run a business called the Consumer Complaint Agency which promised people it would advocate on their behalf regarding their complaints against businesses. Instead it charged people up to $25 for doing little more than forwarding complaints, Ferguson said.

People who bought prayer services from Christian Prayer Service or from its sister website Orcion Cristiana between July 1, 2011 and June 30, 2015, can receive a full refund. Ferguson said those affected should receive an email from the businesses by April 8 alerting them to the opportunity to file a complaint to receive a refund.

Consumers seeking a refund can file a complaint with the Washington State Attorney General’s Office through June 12, 2016.

No claim needs to be filed by customers of Consumer Complaint Agency, which will proactively mail checks to eligible consumers, Ferguson said.

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