Wolf presses for $145M in business aid

FILE- In this May 24, 2017, file photo, Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf appears at an event in Erie, Pa. Wolf wants to use $145 million in a worker’s compensation fund to help businesses cope with the coronavirus pandemic. His proposal would require a vote from the Republican-majority Legislature to appropriate the money, and there has been no deal struck to accomplish that. (Christopher Millette/Erie Times-News via AP, File)

Gov. Tom Wolf said Tuesday the state received no specific threat of violence targeting the state Capitol, but vowed the state is prepared for whatever protests might erupt in the days leading up to President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration next week.

The FBI on Monday had issued a warning that groups were planning protests at state Capitols across the country this weekend.

“We’re ready for anything that might happen,” Wolf said.

The Pennsylvania State Police and Capitol Police have been coordinating their planning to prepare in the event that a violent protest does erupt at the statehouse, said Ryan Tarkowski, a state police spokesman.

"The Pennsylvania Criminal Intelligence Center (PaCIC), based in Harrisburg, serves as a an information hub for federal, state, and local law enforcement. It is staffed 24 hours a day, seven days a week with trained analysts who provide law enforcement with intelligence and investigative information,” Tarkowski said. “We are confident that PSP has the resources in place to protect Pennsylvanians against threats and to work with all levels of law enforcement to keep the Commonwealth safe,” he said.

House Majority Leader Kerry Benninghoff, R-Centre County, told reporters Tuesday morning that legislative leaders have not called for any special precautions due to the potential threat.

“Those are decisions made by DGS (the Department of General Services),” Benninghoff said.

He said, without elaborating, that since it’s the beginning of a new legislative session with new legislative leaders, there has been discussion about whether security is adequate.

“We’ve had some discussion to make sure Capitol security is up-to-date,” Benninghoff said. The mob attack at the U.S. Capitol serves as “a catalyst to re-evaluate where we are” in terms of security, he said.

The concerns about new unrest across the country comes as federal investigators are still scrambling to track down those involved in the mob attack in Washington, D.C.

The day after the Capitol riot, Bruce D. Bandler the acting U.S. Attorney for the Middle District of Pennsylvania, said that his office would investigate and prosecute anyone known to have traveled from the middle of the state to participate in the attack on the Capitol.

Tuesday, a spokeswoman in Bandler’s office said that all prosecutions stemming from the mob attack at the Capitol are now being handled by federal prosecutors in the District of Columbia.

Prosecutors in D.C., on Friday filed federal charges against 14 people, including a Lebanon County man, Terry Brown, accused of illegally entering a restricted building with intent to impede government business, disorderly conduct and violent entry and disorderly conduct on Capitol grounds.

FBI Director Christopher Wray said the charges against Brown and the 13 others, “are just the beginning.”

Twelve Pennsylvania residents were charged with more minor infractions by D.C. Police. Charged with curfew violations were: Matthew Bair, 20; Sean Bair, 21; Douglas Black, 37, Eric Black, 36; David Booth, 47; Thomas Haines, 33; Jonathan McKinley, 40; Philip Mulhollen, 39; and Dakoda Westfall, 23. Police didn’t provide hometown addresses for these defendants. Charged with violating curfew and unlawful entry were: Tara Coleman, 40; James Sinclair, 38; and Anthony Tamaro, 60.

A Pennsylvania resident, Benjamin Phillips, 50, of Bloomsburg, a Trump supporter who drove to Washington on the day of the Capitol attack, died amid the chaos of a reported medical condition.

At a Tuesday afternoon press conference, Acting U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia Michael Sherwin, said that federal investigators have already created 170 files on suspects believed to have been involved in criminal conduct during the attack.

“Hundreds” of people will likely face charges for their actions at the Capitol last Wednesday, Sherwin said. He added that prosecutors have set up a special task force to identify and prosecute any suspects believed to have engaged in sedition or conspiracy to commit sedition.

Steven D’Antuono, assistant director in charge of the Washington, D..C., field office of the FBI, said that federal officials are confident they will track down those involved in the riot even if they’ve returned to their hometowns.

“I want to stress: The FBI has a long memory and a broad reach.,” he said. “We’ve received more than 100,000 pieces of digital media,” he said, adding that investigators are “scouring every one.”

John Finnerty reports from the Harrisburg Bureau for the New Castle News and other Pennsylvania newspapers owned by CNHI. Email him at jfinnerty@cnhi.com and follow him on Twitter @cnhipa.

 

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CNHI PA State Reporter

John Finnerty reports from the Harrisburg Bureau for the New Castle News and other Pennsylvania newspapers owned by CNHI. Email him at jfinnerty@cnhi.com and follow him on Twitter @cnhipa.

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