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State/County - Bensalem Township

County Welcomes New Veterans Affairs Director

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The County of Bucks this spring welcomed a new director to the county’s Department of Veterans Affairs.

A current U.S. Navy reservist, Matthew Allen joined the department in April after four years of active-duty Navy service and nearly a decade spent as a deputy in the county Sheriff’s Office.

The Bucks County native hit the ground running, representing the County and promoting his office’s mission in appearances at County and community events – all with the aim of connecting the county’s underserved veterans to the services they need.

“The one thing that I want veterans to know is that we’re here to help them,” Allen said. “We’re here for whatever they need, even if it’s just a person to talk to. Everyone in this office cares and wants to help the veterans out as much as they can.”

As director of Veterans Affairs, Allen is in charge of a department with three full-time employees and one part-time employee. He was hired at a starting salary of $85,000.

The Department of Veterans Affairs is part of the county’s Division of Human Services, which oversees all of the county’s social services departments.

Click here to learn more about the services provided by the Bucks County Department of Veterans Affairs.

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State/County - Bensalem Township

Increases in Crashes, DUI Related Deaths on State Roadways, During Holiday Enforcement Effort State Police Say

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The Pennsylvania State Police (PSP) on Tuesday released the results of its annual Independence Day weekend enforcement detail, which aimed to strengthen roadway safety across the Commonwealth.

The PSP investigated 774 vehicle crashes resulting in 11 fatalities and 244 injuries July 3-7. Intoxicated driving was a factor in 64 crashes, including four fatal crashes.

During the five days, troopers arrested 556 motorists for driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs and issued 28,429 citations, including:

  •  7,975 for speeding;
  • 876 for failing to wear a seat belt;
  • 225 for not securing children in safety seats.

Table 1: Independence Day Weekend Crash Statistics

Year Total Crashes Fatal Crashes People Killed People Injured DUI Crashes DUI-Related Fatal Crashes
2024 (5 days) 774 11 11 244 64 4
2023 (5 days) 668 3 3 194 59 0

Table 2: Independence Day Weekend Enforcement Statistics

Year DUI Arrests Speeding Citations Child Seat Citations Seat Belt Citations Other Citations
2024 (5 days) 556 7,975 225 876 19,353
2023 (5 days) 505 7,929 210 845 14,754

These statistics cover only those incidents investigated by the state police and do not include incidents to which other law enforcement agencies responded.

For more statistical information on the Pennsylvania State Police, visit psp.pa.gov.

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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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State/County - Bensalem Township

Bill Allowing Intermediate Units to Own Facilities for Instructional Use Passes House

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A bipartisan bill to allow intermediate units (IU) to own facilities for instructional use passed the House Tuesday.

The measure (H.B. 1526), introduced by state Reps. Joe Ciresi (D-Montgomery and Kristin Marcell (R-Bucks) passed in a 168 to 34 vote-with all Lower Bucks state Rep’s voting yes on the measure. 

IUs are regional educational service agencies created by the legislature in 1970. IUs provide high-quality programs to K-12 public school districts and non-public/private schools. Intermediate units also serve as liaisons between school districts and the Pennsylvania Department of Education. Pennsylvania’s 29 intermediate units provide special education, professional development, and technical assistance services to school districts, charter schools and private schools. Every year, more than 175,000 students and 50,000 educators receive services and training from IUs, meeting a variety of needs for students and school districts.

Currently, IUs are only permitted to own office space and warehouse facilities, a limitation that prohibits them from owning facilities used for instructional space; a limitation that does not apply to school districts, area career and technical schools, or charter schools. Many IUs operate classrooms and other instructional spaces as providers of important special education, pre-school programs and other educational services. All these instructional facilities must be leased, burdening IUs with rental costs that sometimes greatly exceed what it would cost the IU to purchase and own the facility themselves.

“As a former school board member, I know that leasing office and warehouse space both inflates costs for IUs and creates inadequate learning conditions by preventing IUs from providing facilities that are tailored for the needs of the students they serve,” Ciresi said. “This legislation would ensure that the money would be far better used in providing our children with a top-notch education.”

“I am pleased to see this bipartisan legislation that would allow IUs across the Commonwealth to own instructional facilities — just as area career and technical schools and charter schools do — moving forward,” said Marcell. “It is a fiscally responsible step that will strengthen our educational infrastructure and support the dedicated professionals who work tirelessly to educate our children.”

Both Ciresi and Marcell served on school boards prior to serving in the PA House. Ciresi was a member of the Spring-Ford Area school board for 12 years, which included three years as president and three years as vice-president. Marcell was a member of the Council Rock school board from 2018-23, which included one year as vice-president.

The legislation  now moves to the Senate for consideration.

 

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