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Cops, Courts & Fire -Bensalem Township

Bensalem Family Sentenced in Baby’s OD Death from Last Year

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A 26-year-old man was convicted of child endangerment Tuesday, with the mother and grandmother sentenced to jail time and probation for their role in the overdose death of a 4-month-old infant.

Daniel Scott Howarth was found guilty by Common Pleas Judge Gary B. Gilman on charges of child endangerment, possession of a controlled substance and possession of drug paraphernalia.

He was sentenced to one year less one day to two years less one day in the Bucks County Correctional Facility followed by five years of probation. Howarth cannot be granted parole without entering a long-term drug treatment plan, the judge ordered.

During the 2-day waiver trial that began on Monday, Gilman heard testimony from Bensalem Police Officers and Detectives who responded to 4900 block of Oak Avenue to try and save the baby.

Emotional bodycam footage was played during the trial, showing police and paramedics attempting to save the baby. Additionally, photos were presented as evidence that showed a home in disarray with trash, dirty dishes and old food scattered about and drug baggies, syringes, and a tourniquet inside the bedroom where the baby slept. “That was one of the worst things I’ve seen in my life,” Gilman said. “Looking at that house, that baby never had a chance.”

Besides Howarth, the baby’s mother and grandmother have also been charged in the case.

On Monday, Donna Westmoreland, the baby’s grandmother, pleaded no contest to child endangerment and was sentenced to one year of probation. Felicity Westmoreland, the baby’s mother, previously pleaded guilty to involuntary manslaughter and child endangerment. She was sentenced Tuesday to 11 ½ to 23 months in county jail followed by three consecutive years of probation.

This investigation began at 12:36 p.m. on Jan. 7, 2022, when Bensalem police were dispatched to Donna Westmoreland’s home on Oak Avenue on a report of an infant in cardiac arrest. The 4-month-old baby boy was found unresponsive in the living room of the home.

Police and paramedics attempted life-saving measures and transported the boy to St. Mary Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead. An autopsy later revealed the presence of fentanyl in the child’s blood and the cause of death was determined to be adverse effects of fentanyl.

An investigation by Bensalem Police and the Bucks County District Attorney’s Office revealed that the infant’s parents, Felicity Westmoreland and Howarth, were in the home when the child died. Drug paraphernalia located in their bedroom tested positive for the presence of fentanyl and cocaine.

During closing arguments, Deputy District Attorney Sarah K. Heimbach said Howarth failed his duty as a father to protect his son. If he had removed the baby from the drug den where he and the baby’s mother slept, “this baby would not have come into contact with fentanyl,” she said.

Westmoreland had previously been appointed the baby’s foster mother, and the Bucks County Juvenile Dependency Court issued a Shelter Care Order prohibiting Westmoreland from leaving the infant unsupervised with daughter Felicity and Howarth. She violated the order by leaving the baby unsupervised with his parents on Jan. 7.

The Bensalem Police Department and the Bucks County District Attorney’s Office investigated this case. Deputy District Attorney Sarah K. Heimbach prosecuted the case.

 

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Cops, Courts & Fire -Bensalem Township

Bensalem Seeks Info Who Walked out of Kohl’s with Hundreds in Merchandise

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A retail theft prompted an investigation by Bensalem Police who need to identify a female who allegedly left hundreds of dollars of merchandise,

Police said, the retail theft happened at Kohls, located at 2325 Street Rd., on July 9, 2024.

At approximately 3 p.m., an unknown female allegedly entered the store with a large blue shoulder bag and filled it with numerous shirts worth $636.00., said police.

The female fled the area in a dark-colored sedan without paying for the merchandise. police said.

Please look at them closely.

If you have any information regarding this person’s identity, please submit an anonymous tip or contact Bensalem Police at 215-633-3719.

 

 

 

Credit: Bensalem Police

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Cops, Courts & Fire -Bensalem Township

Bensalem Con Artist who Caregiver Who Faked Cancer Diagnosis Stole from Patients and Families Sentenced

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A 48-year-old woman was sentenced on Wednesday for stealing thousands of dollars in money and heirloom jewelry from the families of two elderly women she cared for and then submitting fake medical documents claiming to have stage 4 esophageal cancer so that she could delay her trial.

Shannon Lynn  Eberhartof Bensalem, also pleaded guilty today to the charges of unlawful use of a computer and two counts of identity theft related to the submission of fraudulent documentation. In March, she pleaded guilty to two counts of financial exploitation of an older adult or care dependent person, theft by unlawful taking, and receiving stolen property, and one count each of identity theft and access device fraud.

Common Pleas Judge Gary B. Gilman sentenced Eberhart to one year minus a day to two years minus a day in the Bucks County Correctional Facility, followed by a consecutive sentence of 11 years of probation. He called her actions “despicable and unfathomable,” and an unending betrayal to those who trusted her.

“You are nothing but a con artist who deceived the people who cared for you,” he said. “You betrayed every cancer patient, you betrayed the court system, you betrayed your attorney,” said Gilman, who questioned whether Eberhart’s courtroom tears were real, or just another of her deceptions.

In addition to her jail and probation rerquire4ment6s , Gilman ordered Eberhart to pay $32,835 in restitution to three victims, undergo mental health and drug and alcohol treatment and never again work as a caregiver.

Eberhart was initially charged in late February 2023 following an investigation by the Newtown Township Police Department that revealed that she stole jewelry and cash from two women she worked for as a caretaker. Additionally, the investigation found that Eberhart made unauthorized withdrawals from one of the victim’s bank accounts.

Deputy District Attorney Marc J. Furber said shortly after being employed, Eberhart started stealing from right under their noses.

“It was not about the monetary value,” he said. “These were pieces of heirloom jewelry handed down from generation to generation, now gone.”

Eberhart waived her preliminary hearing and formal arraignment, and the case was scheduled for pre-trial conference on three different occasions. A month before a scheduled court hearing in December 2023, the Bucks County District Attorney’s Office received a medical document from Eberhart’s public defender, who had received it from Eberhart to support her continuance request.

The letter, which appeared to have come from a Montgomery County hospital, claimed Eberhart had stage 4 esophageal cancer and needed further treatment.

Bucks County detectives contacted the two doctors named in the letter and both said they never authored the letter and never treated Eberhart. Representatives of the hospital also confirmed that the letter was fake and contained several inaccuracies, including the official name of the hospital and its logo. The two doctors named in the letter also never worked at their hospital.

The investigation by Bucks County Detectives found that the letter was clearly written using a computer, as it contained a digitally created logo and headers, footers, and margins. Additionally, the investigation found that Eberhart emailed the fake letter to her attorney, who in turn submitted the letter to the Bucks County District Attorney’s Office.

The families of the victims gave impact statements about how Eberhart’s deceitfulness affected them, not just financially, but emotionally. Both families knew and trusted Eberhart before she was hired to work as a caregiver for their elderly mothers. During their brief time working for the families, they grew to care for her.

One of the families said they grieved with Eberhart and gave her flowers and condolences when she told them her mother passed away, but that was another of her shameful lies. Eberhart’s mother was in court on Wednesday.

“Shannon’s actions here are unforgivable,” one of the victims said. “These pieces of jewelry tell stories of my family, past and present, and can never be replaced.”

Deputy District Attorney Marc Furber called the “theft from the elderly, especially by people entrusted to care for them,” a major problem.

“The Defendant compounded her crimes against the elderly by attempting to continue her manipulation in the Court system. She failed, but not for lack of trying,” he said. “This case should be a lesson to those who are in positions of trust for elderly or disabled individuals.  That trust should be upheld at all costs.  If you make the decision to violate that trust, you will be caught, you will go to jail and further attempts to manipulate the legal system will fail.”

“The effects of elder financial abuse are incredibly tragic and long lasting for the victims and their families,” Furber said. “But if there was one bright spot to the Defendant’s actions, it is that those actions demonstrated the strength of our legal system in Bucks County. We are ready to combat falsity, dishonesty and misinformation with the shining light of truth and justice.”

These cases were investigated by Detectives with the Bucks County District Attorney’s Office, Newtown Township Police Department and Warminster Township Police Department. They were prosecuted by Deputy District Attorney Marc J. Furber, Chief of Insurance Fraud and Economic Crimes.

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Cops, Courts & Fire - Yardley Borough

More than 80 Police Departments across Southeast Pennsylvania to Target Aggressive Drivers during Statewide Mobilization

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The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) announced today that more than 80 municipal police departments from Bucks, Chester, Delaware, Montgomery, and Philadelphia counties will join the Pennsylvania State Police in a coordinated aggressive driving enforcement wave. This collective effort, part of a statewide mobilization running through August 18, is aimed at reducing the number of crashes, injuries, and fatalities on our area roadways, ensuring your safety on the road.

The enforcement wave will target heavy truck violations, pedestrian safety, red light running, and tailgating. Motorists demonstrating unsafe behaviors, such as driving too fast for conditions or other aggressive actions, will also be cited.

Law enforcement will utilize strategies such as traffic enforcement zones, saturation patrols, speed enforcement details, corridor enforcement, work zone enforcement, and multi-jurisdictional patrol to identify and cite aggressive drivers.
The enforcement is part of Pennsylvania’s Highway Safety Program and is funded by part of PennDOT’s investment of federal funds from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).
If you encounter an aggressive driver, PennDOT offers these tips:

  • Get out of their way and don’t challenge them.
  • Stay relaxed, avoid eye contact, and ignore rude gestures.
  • Don’t block the passing lane if you drive slower than most traffic.
  • Do not attempt to follow or pursue the vehicle. You or a passenger may call the police. But, if you use a cell phone, pull over to a safe location.
  • >

    According to 2023 PennDOT crash data, there were 1,363 aggressive driving crashes, resulting in 39 fatalities and 104 suspected serious injuries in Bucks, Chester, Delaware, Montgomery, and Philadelphia counties. Aggressive driving crashes involve at least two aggressive driving factors in the same crash. Factors include, but are not limited to, running stop signs or red lights, tailgating, careless turning or passing, and driving too fast for conditions.

    The goal of targeted enforcement is to reduce the number of aggressive driving-related crashes, injuries, and deaths on roadways throughout the state. Any aggressive driver stopped by police will receive a ticket.

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