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Woman wanted for $9,000 tax return theft

Leeann Sweitzer Witman, 51, of Hershey, is wanted on charges for allegedly filing a Lower Swatara Twp. woman’s taxes and having the refund transferred to an account for her own use.

leeann witman51WEB

Lower Swatara Police filed charges against Witman for identity theft, theft by deception, access device fraud, criminal use of a communication facility and computer trespass/transfer funds. 

Witman offered to help the woman with her taxes while she was visiting on Jan. 28, according to the affidavit filed in the case. Police said she used a laptop computer to complete the woman’s taxes using a service called FreeTaxUSA.com, and substituted the account information for deposit. 

When the resident did not receive her refund, she contacted police, and the IRS subsequently provided information about where the money was transferred, the affidavit states.

The money was transferred into an account at Metro Bank (which merged with First National Bank) that was opened nine days prior to Witman providing tax assistance, the affidavit states. The account was opened in the name of Witman’s mother, Janet Sweitzer, for whom Witman is appointed power of attorney. 

The refund was deposited Feb. 10 and within a day, Witman made a $500 cash withdrawal as seen on the video surveillance at First National Bank in Mechanicsburg. By Feb. 29, the victim’s $9,080 tax refund had been spent, leaving the account with a negative balance. The account was settled and closed in April. 

Police said Witman has prior convictions for bad checks, theft by deception, forgery, receipt of stolen property and theft by unlawful taking. “She’s a career criminal,” said Detective Robert Appleby, who filed the charges in the case.

Last Updated on Friday, 23 September 2016 11:24

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Lower Swatara Twp. Police News 9/21/16

Following is a compilation of reports from the Lower Swatara Twp. Police Department. Please be aware all those charged/cited are presumed innocent unless proven otherwise in a court of law.

Scammed $488

A township resident thought she was on her way to getting a grant but ended being scammed out of almost $500.

The victim told police Sept. 1 her friend gave her the name of an attorney who would help her get a grant. Police said the victim contacted the attorney via Facebook and subsequently sent $488 via Instagram to cover what she was told were transaction fees to get the grant.

Police reported the money had been sent to an individual in Tuscaloosa, Alabama.

Details about what kind of grant and the amount of the grant were not specified in the police report. 

Police told the victim they would file an official report about the incident but told the victim there was not much that could be done to pursue her loss. 

DUI charge

Michael S. Patterson, 32, of the 100 block of Brick Church Road, Newville, has been charged with DUI, DUI-highest rate or alcohol, driving without a license and disregarding a lane of traffic, police report.

Patterson was charged after being arrested at 1:53 a.m. Aug. 20 following a traffic stop on Route 283 West at the Airport Connector.

According to the arresting officer, Patterson was driving a 2009 Subaru Legacy that was seen straddling the road’s fog line. The initial interview of Patterson turned into a DUI investigation, police said. Patterson was taken to the Dauphin County Judicial Center where blood was drawn and tested for the possible presence of intoxicants. Results of the tests were not reported.

Patterson is scheduled to be present before District Justice Michael Smith on Oct. 6 for a preliminary hearing on the charges.

Slumped over in car

Mario C. Bologna, 42, of the 2000 block of Market Street Extended, Middletown, has been charged with DUI, careless driving, driving an unregistered vehicle, police report.

According to an arrest report, he was awakened by police when they found him slumped over the center console of a 2013 Chevrolet Avalanche in the 2000 block of West Harrisburg Pike at 3:22 a.m. Sept. 2. Police said the vehicle’s engine was running but its transmission was in neutral at the time. 

Bologna had an odor of an intoxicating beverage on his breath, refused to provide a breath sample to be tested with a portable Breathalyzer and had difficulty keeping his balance.

Bologna was taken the Dauphin County Judicial Center on suspicion of DUI and refused to provide a blood sample to test for the possible presence of intoxicants.

Public drunkenness citation

Harry J. Varner, 55, of the 200 block of Penn Street, Highspire, was cited for public drunkenness following an incident at 8:12 p.m. Sept. 4 on West Harrisburg Pike at Ann Street, police report.

Police said Varner was seen walking on West Harrisburg Pike and appeared to be intoxicated. Alcohol was detected in Varner’s breath and he was taken to the Dauphin County Judicial Center, where he was held for several hours, police noted.

$75 in quarters stolen

Police report someone stole $75 in quarters from an unlocked vehicle parked in the 2000 block of Mountainview Road.

Investigators said the theft from the 2013 Kia Soul took place some time Sept. 1 or Sept. 2. The victim told police the change was in cup holders in the vehicle. 

Police are asking anyone with information about the incident to contact them at 717-939-0463.

Fraudulent transactions

A township resident told police numerous transactions were attempted in her Visa account.

Police report the victim had been contacted by Macy’s department store on Sept. 1, and they informed her that two gift cards, $453 and $400, were placed on her Member’s 1st credit card. 

The victim also told police the card had been used for a $250 purchase at the Bloomingdale’s department store and for $150 and $50 purchases at an unnamed department store.

Police said the local credit union had been closely monitoring the account and closed it on suspicion of fraud.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 20 September 2016 15:55

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Police charge man with misdemeanors for touching girl in car on school grounds

A Middletown man faces two criminal charges for touching a 16-year-old girl in his vehicle outside Middletown Area High School.

Alan Scott Miller, 48, of East Water Street is charged with indecent assault and corruption of minors, both misdemeanors. 

The girl rode with Miller to Middletown Area High School on Saturday, Aug. 20, according to the affidavit of probable cause in the case. Miller parked the car between Reid Elementary and Middletown Area High schools and he “placed his hand on her knee and began rubbing it back and forth and worked his hand up to the middle of her thigh,” the affidavit states.

“(The girl) said she was wearing shorts and Miller’s hand was against her skin,” stated Detective Robert Appleby of Lower Swatara Police in the affidavit. “She said it was very awkward and uncomfortable and when Miller got to the middle of her thigh she told him that was her bad knee.” 

The girl was wearing cutoff shorts at the time, and she said Miller touched her exposed leg, not under her clothing, Appleby said. 

“She stopped him when it got to mid-thigh,” he said.

Miller admitted to putting his hand on her mid-thigh, Appleby said. 

“It didn’t appear like it was in a goofing around way,” he said. 

Later, the girl several times refused to stay alone with him in a room or to sit down beside him after he asked her to do so, Appleby said. 

The girl showed police a text from a month prior to the incident in which Miller sent her a message calling her “baby girl” with a winking emoji — a winking smiley face picture. 

Charges were filed based on the behavior within “the totality of the circumstances,” Appleby said.

 

Last Updated on Tuesday, 20 September 2016 15:52

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Thieves target 7 empty homes for brass, copper

Vacant homes in Middletown are being targeted by burglars who are stealing copper pipes and water meters, borough police say.

Police know of at least seven cases in recent months where one or more burglars forcibly broke into these homes and took out all the copper piping from inside, said Sgt. Richard Hiester. In some cases, water meters have been stolen for the brass.

The vacant homes are concentrated in the northeast part of Middletown, except for one residence broken into in the 100 block of East Water Street.

The break-ins started around the end of June, with the most recent being of a vacant house in the 800 block of Deatrich Avenue sometime between Wednesday, Sept. 7, and Friday, Sept. 9, Hiester said.

The other break-ins occurred at vacant homes in the 600 and 900 blocks of Adelia Street, the 300 block of Woodland Avenue on the Vine Street side, and the 900 block of Vine. A water meter was also taken out of a vacant residence at Water and Vine streets.

Police are offering a $2,000 reward for information leading to the capture and prosecution of whoever is behind the thefts. Anyone who sees any suspicious activity around a vacant property is urged to call police at 717-902-0627.

Police have no suspects or physical descriptions, but they do have some fingerprints that are being turned over to state police, Hiester said.

Police believe the same person or persons are behind the thefts and that they probably live in the area of the properties being targeted.

The burglars look for indicators that a property is unoccupied, such as a for-sale sign or notices posted that the property is in foreclosure. High grass also can be a tip-off that a property is vacant.

Besides maintaining the property, owners with a vacant house for sale should keep the electricity on and use timers to turn some lights on at night. Keep the blinds drawn and do anything else you can think of to make a property look occupied.

“We need to make it harder” for burglars to succeed, Hiester said.

At current prices the burglars are probably only getting about $100 per house for the copper, Hiester said. But the damage being caused to each residence is in the thousands, because of the “unsophisticated” way the burglars are ripping out the piping, mostly using brute strength.

Some of the break-ins were reported to police. Hiester discovered others on his own by working down a list of vacant properties from Suez, the company that provides water and sewer service in the borough. 

 

Last Updated on Tuesday, 13 September 2016 15:43

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Traffic enforcement increased around Penn State

copstrafficenforcementWEBPress And Journal Staff Photo by Dan Miller — Middletown police have stepped up traffic enforcement in the area of Wharton Avenue and North Catherine Street just outside Penn State Harrisburg.

 

Middletown police have stepped up traffic enforcement in the area next to Penn State Harrisburg, coinciding with about 5,000 students returning for the new academic year.

Twelve different traffic arrests and warnings — most at Wharton Avenue and North Catherine Street — were tallied by police from Sept. 1 to Sept. 7, according to a weekly incident log report provided by police to the Press And Journal.

The increased presence is in response to complaints from people who live in the area about drivers running the stop sign at Wharton and North Catherine, as well as other stop signs in the area, and speeding, said Police Chief John Bey.

"When we get a multitude of citizen complaints in any area for that matter, we try to respond," Bey said. 

Police will try to maintain the increased presence in the area near Penn State Harrisburg, as manpower allows.

Joanna Cain lives in the area and has noticed the increased police presence. On Monday, Sept. 12, she saw an officer pull someone over for going the wrong way north up North Catherine. North Catherine is one-way heading south at Wharton.

Cain several months ago appeared before borough council with a list of things she suggested the borough do to help her neighborhood cope with the impacts of the increased traffic that come with the influx of the Penn State Harrisburg students.

The borough has addressed a few of the items on the list, such as outlining crosswalks and putting up signs warning about North Catherine being one way. But there's a lot more on the list that the borough hasn't gotten to yet, Cain said.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 13 September 2016 15:40

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