New Castle News

Local News

August 6, 2007

Newspaper objects to police seizure of newsroom computer

The New Castle News announced today it will file a court protest against the unannounced seizure by authorities of a newsroom computer that police say was used to illegally record phone conversations with two local public officials about a proposed police training facility.

The News’ petition will ask that the city police department return the computer immediately, saying it is important to the daily production of the paper and could be subject to indiscriminate search of sensitive news files.

Sgt. Kevin Seelbaugh confiscated the computer the afternoon of July 25 after District Justice Melissa A. Amodie issued a search warrant to determine if News reporter Pat Litowitz had recorded conversations with Northwest Lawrence Regional Police Chief Jim Morris and Mahoning Township Supervisor Francis Exposito without informing them beforehand.

Morris asked Seelbaugh to seek the search warrant on the basis that a state privacy law requires both parties consent to a recorded phone conversation in Pennsylvania. Violation of the law is a third-degree felony punishable by up to seven years in prison.

Morris learned from his wife, Debbie Wachter Morris, who also is a reporter at The News, that Litowitz recorded a conversation with the chief and also with Exposito.

The phone conversations at issue concerned a story Litowitz was pursuing about a proposed police training facility in Mahoning Township. There was no contention by Chief Morris or Exposito that Litowitz had represented himself as anything other than a reporter for The News.

On July 17, Litowitz initiated a call to Morris, who was unavailable, telling him the subject of his inquiry. Morris later returned the call to Litowitz’s cell phone. Litowitz also talked with Exposito about the story.

Eventually, the story was written by News reporter Nancy Lowry, who also had gathered information about the police training facility. Litowitz played the recorded calls with Chief Morris and Exposito for Lowry so she could use the information in her story.

Text Only | Photo Reprints
Local News
  • NicholsonOffice.jpg County to buy new office for Nicholson

    Before the end of the year, the Lawrence County commissioners plan to move District Judge Jennifer Nicholson into new offices.

    July 30, 2014 1 Photo

  • PortersvilleSS.jpg Portersville Steam Show summer event arrives

    The Portersville Steam Show will stage its summer event Thursday through Sunday at its show grounds.

     

    July 30, 2014 1 Photo

  • Veteran.jpg Veterans seminar to view technology

    A veterans benefits seminar has been set for Friday. The program will run from 2 to 4 p.m. in the commissioners room of the Lawrence County courthouse.

     
     

    July 30, 2014 1 Photo

  • Part-time guard position created

    The Lawrence County Salary Board created a part-time temporary court guard position Tuesday.

     

    July 30, 2014

  • JaredGustafson.jpg Mohawk senior Jared Gustafson elected nation FCCLA officer

    A Mohawk High student was elected to national office at a leadership conference in Texas. Senior Jared Gustafson now is the 2014-2015 national vice president of parliamentary law for the Family, Career and Community Leaders of America.

     

    July 29, 2014 1 Photo

  • PipeDreams.jpg Concert to feature sounds of ’60s

    This week’s Friday Night Live at Riverwalk Amphitheater will feature a 1960s theme. Entertainment will be provided by Pipe Dreams. The group performs a tribute to the British Invasion and American rock ’n roll with music from The Beatles, Stones, Doors, Monkees and hits from Motown and Philly.

    July 29, 2014 1 Photo

  • well.jpg Environmental groups oppose forced pooling

    An effort by local landowners to have forced pooling declared unconstitutional is getting some outside support. Two environmental groups — Delaware Riverkeeper Network and Mountain Watershed Association — have filed a friend of the court brief with Commonwealth Court. They are asking that the court review forced pooling, which is part of a 1961 Oil and Gas Conservation Law, before scheduled hearings take place.

    July 29, 2014 1 Photo

  • CashMob.jpg Cash Mob returns Saturday to downtown

    The New Visions Destination Downtown Action Team will host a cash mob Saturday in downtown New Castle.

    July 28, 2014 1 Photo

  • wampum_gazebo.jpg Wampum Homecoming draws near

    The 22nd annual Wampum Homecoming Weekend is scheduled for this weekend. It is sponsored by the Wampum Area Business Association.

     

    July 28, 2014 1 Photo

  • money.jpg City imposing new regulations for vendors

    The city of New Castle is tightening regulations and imposing new ones for mobile food and transient vendors.

     

    July 26, 2014 1 Photo