New Castle News


August 15, 2013

DA withdraws charges against school board candidate

NEW CASTLE — Charges of dealing in alleged stolen meat against acting city fire chief Mark Panella and two others have been withdrawn.

Lawrence County District Attorney Joshua Lamancusa, in a prepared statement issued Wednesday, said insufficient evidence exists to prosecute Panella. He said his office conducted a thorough review of the case prior to reaching that conclusion.

Preliminary hearings for the three, scheduled for Wednesday morning, were canceled.

Last month, Union Township police charged, Panella, 53, of 2010 Glendale Ave., Donald L. Macarella, 67, of 115 Friendship St., and Wayne E. Randall, 52, of 808 Court St., with two counts of receiving stolen property and two counts of disorderly conduct.

Officers said $2,766 in meat, soap and paper products — allegedly stolen from Walmart between July 2, 2012, and July 13, 2012, — had been sold at a reduced rate to Panella’s business, Buzz and Rich’s Tavern, on the city’s South Side.

In addition to being a city firefighter and businessman, Panella is a candidate for the New Castle school board.

According to his statement, Lamancusa decided not to prosecute after additional information was made known to his office. He said that information was not available to the Union Township police at the time the charges were filed.

Lamancusa cited phone records, hotel receipts, witness statements and rental contracts that showed Panella had not been in Lawrence County when the accuser, Michael Aeschbacher, claimed to have sold illegal goods to him.

In addition, he said, the state conducted an inventory of Panella’s establishment and an inspection report showed Panella did not have goods or food items in his inventory that were not supported by purchase receipts.

Finally, Lamancusa noted, the only evidence supporting the filing of criminal charges was the statement from Aeschbacher. Further investigation revealed Aeschbacher had been convicted of seven crimes of dishonesty since 2006.

“My office has a long track record of prosecuting political and other high-visibility figures if they violate the law,” Lamancusa said. “However, despite our record I am aware that some will view the dismissal of Mr. Panella’s case as being motivated by other interests.

Noting he does not really know Panella, Lamancusa said “given the overall lack of evidence, the lack of credibility of his accuser and the amount pretrial publicity in this case, I thought it necessary to explain in a public manner why the case was being dismissed.”

Lamancusa added the Union Township police are considering charging Aeschbacher with making false reports to law enforcement.

Text Only | Photo Reprints
  • DougDanko.jpg Census shows county population getting older

    Lawrence County’s population continues to get older. However, it is not alone, as Pennsylvania overall is aging.

    July 30, 2014 1 Photo

  • backpackproject.jpg Councilman picks up tab to help lunch program

    Participants of a local summer feeding program are eating this week courtesy of New Castle City Councilman Tim Fulkerson. On Friday morning, the truck dispatched from New Castle to pick up about 3,500 pounds of items from the Pittsburgh Food Bank broke down as it arrived at its destination.

    July 28, 2014 1 Photo

  • CRESTVIEW.jpg Outreach: Churches plan to host picnic for residents of Crestview Gardens

    Volunteers from several area churches are banding together in hopes of bringing peace to a troubled neighborhood.

    July 28, 2014 1 Photo

  • money.jpg Council OKs funds to remove dead trees

    New Castle City Council has approved spending funds from its contingency account to remove some trees at Darlington Park. Marshall Tree Experts of Ellwood City has given an estimate of $12,000 to remove the large elm trees from the Mahoningtown park.


    July 26, 2014 1 Photo

  • 12.jpg Photo Gallery, Story: Night light

    The balloons may have been on the ground but spirits were soaring.


    July 25, 2014 1 Photo 1 Slideshow

  • StateFair.jpg 'State Fair' coming to Playhouse

    The fair is coming to town. No, not the Lawrence County Fair, although that is right around the corner. This is the Iowa State Fair, and it will be live on the stage of the New Castle Playhouse for three weeks, starting Friday night.

    July 24, 2014 1 Photo

  • accountant.jpg DeLorenzo’s status with authority unchanged

    Deno DeLorenzo’s status as a contract employee with the New Castle Sanitation Authority remains unchanged. Authority board members met with DeLorenzo last week regarding an investigation by the Lawrence County district attorney’s office involving Shenango Township funds.

    July 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • Shooting.jpg Detroit area man dies in Ellwood City gunfire

    A triple shooting in an Ellwood City street has claimed the life of a Detroit area man. Gunfire erupted in the middle of Loop Street outside the Walnut Ridge housing project around 10:20 p.m. Sunday, according to state police.

    July 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • Baptism1.jpg Dipped downtown

    John the Baptist identified himself as “the voice of one crying in the wilderness, ‘Make straight the way of the Lord.’ ” On Saturday, local evangelist Randy Crum once again took a cue from the son of Elizabeth and Zechariah, eschewing the locusts and honey that John was known to munch on but heading out into the wilds to baptize believers and challenge them to share their faith with their community.

    July 21, 2014 3 Photos

  • lamancusa.jpg Tanner, district attorney: No comment

    The Lawrence County District Attorney is keeping mum about a probe into finances in Shenango Township. “We don’t talk about ongoing investigations,” Lamancusa said Friday.

    July 19, 2014 1 Photo 5 Stories

House Ads

Do you talk to yourself when you're alone?

Yes, but I’m basically just thinking out loud.
No, that would be weird.
I don’t know. Next time I’m alone, I’ll ask.
     View Results