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State/County - Bensalem Township

Texas Truck Driver, California Woman Sent to Prison for Trafficking $5.6 million in Drugs through Bucks Co

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A Texas truck driver and a California woman were found guilty on Tuesday, March 29, 2022, of trafficking $5.6 million worth of drugs through Bucks County.

Christian Ochoa, 29, of Laredo, Texas, and Edith Tomasa Rodriguez Cardenas, 28, of Huntington Park, California, were both sentenced to state prison; Ochoa to 7 ½ to 15 years and Rodriguez Cardenas to eight to 16 years.

Ochoa and Rodriguez Cardenas were arrested on Jan. 29, 2021, after an observant Bedminster Township patrol officer spotted Ochoa driving a Jeep Wrangler swerving in his lane.

That sparked an investigation by the Bedminster Township Police Department and the Bucks County Detectives Drug Strike Force, who seized one kilogram of eight kilograms of fentanyl, one kilogram of heroin and one kilogram of cocaine from the Jeep.

That bust led to the search of a tractor trailer owned by Ochoa, which was parked at a truck stop in Lehigh County.

Detectives found an additional eight kilograms of fentanyl and one kilogram of heroin inside.

Credit: Bucks DA’s Office

In a stipulated waiver trial on Tuesday, Deputy District Attorney Megan K. Stricker told Common Pleas Judge Raymond F. McHugh that Ochoa and Rodriguez Cardenas trafficked the poison that has destroyed communities across the United States.

While Ochoa transported and delivered the drugs, Rodriguez Cardenas facilitated the transport and trafficking of the drugs and was the “money broker” in the organization, Stricker said.

McHugh found both guilty on all charges against them and sentenced them to state prison.

Ochoa was convicted on two counts each of possession with intent to deliver a controlled substance and criminal conspiracy and one count each of dealing in proceeds of unlawful activities, firearms not to be carried without license and possession of a weapon.

Rodriguez Cardenas was convicted of two counts each of two counts of possession with intent to deliver a controlled substance and one count each of corrupt organizations, criminal conspiracy, possession of a small amount of marijuana and possession of drug paraphernalia.

In addition to the 19 kilograms of drugs, the two searches led to the recovery of more than $43,000 in cash, a handgun. six cellphones, additional drugs, including almost $29,000 in Percocet pills, and four Jesus Malverde candles, known as the Patron Saint of narco-traffickers.

The case was an example of “great instinctual police work, some hard work and collaboration among law enforcement,” District Attorney Matt Weintraub said.

“He’s from Texas. She’s from California. Jesus Malverde, the patron saint of narco-traffickers was not looking out for them in Pennsylvania, but, thankfully, the police were,” Weintraub said. “Thanks to great police instincts and hard work, these two will now be residents of the Pennsylvania state prison system for the next decade or so.”

Assisting Bedminster Police and the Bucks County Drug Strike Force in this investigation were Dublin Borough Police, Pennsylvania State Police, Doylestown Township Police, Upper Macungie Township Police, Central Bucks Regional Police, the Department of Homeland Security, and the Lehigh County District Attorney’s Office.  Deputy District Attorney Megan K. Stricker prosecuted this case for the Bucks County District Attorney’s Office.

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Human Interest - Bensalem Township

Bucks Co Appoints New CEO of Library System

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Bucks County has a new library system director.

The Bucks County Free Library (BCFL) Board of Directors appointed Dana Barber as the library system’s new chief executive officer at their June 17, 2024 board meeting.

She assumed the role beginning on July 15.

Barber has served as director of the Margaret R Grundy Memorial Library in Bristol Borough for the past 10 years, with a focus on creating strategic partnerships to enhance library services.

She received the 2023 Certificate of Merit from the Pennsylvania Library Association in recognition of her leadership skills.

“I’m looking forward to working with the dedicated team at BCFL to continue to enhance library services and foster meaningful relationships with patrons and partners,” Barber said.

Barber is excited by the new opportunity to share her vision for public library services as leader of the county system.

“Our libraries are vibrant community hubs providing access to high-quality information, essential support and education, and equitable spaces. They truly are for everyone!” she said.

Outgoing Chief Executive Officer, Martina Kominiarek, has served as the library’s CEO for more than 20 years.

“With Dana at the helm, I’m confident we’ll continue to thrive and innovate, serving our communities in even more dynamic and impactful ways,” she said.

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Human Interest - Bensalem Township

Rep Davis: We’re Addressing Constituent Complaints on Proposed Aqua Rate Increase

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State Rep Tina Davis said recently we have heard your concerns regarding the proposed AQUA rate increase and I have signed on to a letter to the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission opposing AQUA’s request.

“Aqua made the request to the PUC, citing the need to improve the system’s infrastructure. While I agree that improvements are needed, customers’ bills currently include distribution system improvement charges, indicating that funds are already being allocated for the infrastructure updates.”

Also, the net income of Essential Utilities, AQUA’s parent company, grew 7% in 2023, therefore, it is apparent that the company is profitable and financially stable, Davis said

What can you do about this? Here is the link where you can file your concerns with the PUC regarding this proposal.

The PUC will also schedule public hearings on the proposed rate hike. Please follow my Facebook and X pages as we will update when the dates of the hearings are announced. she said.

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Human Interest - Bensalem Township

Prokopiak Measure to Increase Historic Preservation Tax Credit Program Becomes Law as Part of State Budget Package

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State Rep. Jim Prokopiak’s bill that will help Pennsylvania’s economy by expanding the state Historic Preservation Tax Credit Program was included in a Fiscal Code bill, which was signed into law by Gov. Josh Shapiro on July 11.

Prokopiak initially proposed expanding the Historic Preservation Tax Credit from $5 million to $20 million, starting in 2025 as H.B. 2358. The language of the legislation was added into the Fiscal Code bill, which is part of the state budget package. 

 “Investing in preserving our historic structures does two things,” Prokopiak said. “It not only helps to better tell the story of our commonwealth’s history, but it also is an economic driver as it helps turn these structures into income-producing properties.”

 Every $1 million invested into an historic rehabilitation project generates 6.4 direct jobs and 5.6 indirect jobs in Pennsylvania, which outperforms every other industry, according to Prokopiak.

 Of the 37 states that have a similar tax credit, Pennsylvania had the fourth-lowest cap of $5 million. The increased investment is necessary, as the need for funding is greater than the cap, Prokopiak said. For the 2022-23 fiscal year, 31 projects requesting a total of $12.7 million in tax credits were forwarded to the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission for approval of the projects’ rehabilitation plan. With the annual program cap set at $5 million, 22 of those projects were ultimately awarded credits, using 100% of the total amount available.

 Prokopiak represents the 140th Legislative District comprising Falls, Morrisville, Tullytown and part of Middletown in Bucks County.

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