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June 28, 2012

Former New Castle football coach, wife could get ARD

NEW CASTLE — New Castle’s former football coach and his wife may resolve their legal problems via the Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition program.

Frank P. Bongivengo Jr. and his wife Karen, both of 114 E. Euclid Ave., each face two counts of theft and one count of conspiracy and forgery stemming from alleged misappropriations of $3,618 from a youth football program.

That program teaches fundamentals of football to children in grades three through six. Charges were filed following a 17-month investigation by Pennsylvania state police that looked at transactions between the football program’s account and the couple’s personal bank account.

The ARD program, implemented in the 1980s, provides non-violent, first-time offenders with an alternative to a criminal conviction. If approved for the program by a judge, the individual is placed on probation. Upon satisfactory completion of the program, the defendant may petition the court to have all charges erased from the record.

To enter the ARD program, a defendant must apply. This application is reviewed by the prosecutor, who in this case will be senior deputy attorney general Anthony J. Krastek. The prosecutor considers the defendant’s background, the nature of the offense and effects on any victims before making a recommendation to the courts.

Krastek confirmed Wednesday “there is a possibility” the case will be resolved by ARD.

“This is a program for first-time, non-violent offenders and they certainly would qualify.”

He said he may have more information next week after the judicial call of the trial list, scheduled for Monday.

Attempts Wednesday to reach defense attorneys for the Bongivengos — John J. Bongivengo of New Castle and Pittsburgh attorneys David Benson White and Stephen S. Stallings representing Frank Bongivengo and Dennis Elisco of New Castle representing Karen Bongivengo — were unsuccessful.

Charges against the couple were filed in November.

Felony theft and conspiracy charges were downgraded to misdemeanors and the forgery charge was dismissed following the couple’s preliminary hearing Nov. 15. All charges were reinstated in January.

In March, Bongivengo resigned as New Castle High head football coach and weight lifting supervisor. He continues to work for the district as a social studies teacher.

(Email: nlowry@ncnewsonline.com)

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