Monday, April 1, 2013

Tips led Middletown police to suspect in pharmacy armed robbery

Posted: Wednesday, March 27, 2013 

A Bristol Township man addicted to painkillers has been charged in Sunday’s armed robbery of a Middletown pharmacy after parents at his child’s school recognized his vehicle and the Philadelphia Eagles gear he was known to wear, police said.
Police said they started getting leads on Jeffrey Eberhart’s identity after releasing information about the crime including surveillance footage of the robbery.
Nearly all the callers said that they recognized Eberhart, the father of a Bristol Township elementary student, because he “always” wore Philadelphia Eagles jerseys and hats and drove a maroon and gray Dodge pickup truck.
A Bristol Township police official also contacted Middletown police, saying he was “certain” that was Eberhart in the surveillance footage, according to the affidavit.
Eberhart, 46, of Horseshoe Lane, was arrested and arraigned early Tuesday on five counts of robbery with threat of immediate injury, simple assault, terroristic threats and related offenses. He was sent to Bucks County prison in lieu of 10 percent of $50,000 bail.    
Jeffrey Eberhart
Middletown police say Eberhart entered the Oxford Valley Pharmacy in the 1200 block of Woodbourne Road Sunday afternoon, pulled out a loaded 9 mm Smith & Wesson handgun and demanded employees hand over OxyContin, a powerful prescription painkiller.
Employees and customers in the store had their hands raised as Eberhart, who wore an Eagles jersey and baseball hat, pointed the gun around while waiting for the drugs, police said. He took a 100-count bottle of 80 mg OxyContin pills and a second bottle of an unknown amount of 30 mg OxyContin pills together valued at more than $200, according to a probable cause affidavit.
No one was injured, police said. He left the store and was seen getting into a full-size maroon and gray Dodge pickup truck parked at the edge of the shopping center, police added.
On Monday, a 1995 full-size maroon and gray Dodge pickup truck, registered to Eberhart, was found unattended and parked at Lower Bucks Hospital in Bristol Township, police said.
Shortly before 10 p.m. Monday, police said Eberhart admitted to committing the pharmacy robbery and said that the gun he had was loaded with at least nine bullets.
He also admitted to wearing the number 89 Eagles jersey during the robbery and told police where they could also find the coat and sunglasses he also wore, according to the affidavit.
Police said that Eberhart also admitted to a more than 20-year addiction to prescription painkillers such as OxyContin.

Jury award halved for Bensalem woman injured after driving drunk

Posted: Sunday, March 31, 2013

A Bucks County jury has awarded $1.4 million to Bensalem woman who was severely injured in 2008 after she crashed her car while intoxicated.
But the award was cut in half, citing Marie Castelli’s own negligence in the accident. Castelli took the stand at the trial and admitted partial responsibility.
The jury verdict earlier this month found that the Knights of Columbus on Woodbourne Road was also negligent when one of its employees continued serving alcohol to Castelli on March 8, 2008, and let her drive though she appeared “visibly intoxicated.”    
The win is a rarity for drunken driving cases, in which the plaintiff is typically a third-party who was injured in an accident, said attorney Carin O’Donnell of Stark & Stark, who represented Castelli in the civil suit.
The lawsuits involving drunken drivers as victims are considered particularly tough to win since people often don’t feel sympathetic toward the injured person, O’Donnell said.
The newspaper was unsuccessful in reaching attorney John Reed Evans, who is listed in court records as representing the Knights of Columbus.
The day of the accident, Castelli, who worked as a bartender at the Knights of Columbus, attended a work meeting, according to the suit. She no longer works there, her attorney said.
Afterward, Castelli remained at the club for about five hours where she consumed “multiple alcoholic beverages and became visibly intoxicated,” according to the suit. The suit also mentions that Castelli had taken prescription pain medicine for back pain before the meeting.
O’Donnell said that one of the defense experts estimated that Castelli would have appeared visibly intoxicated between 2:30 p.m. and 3 p.m. A witness testified that at 3:30 p.m. Castelli appeared drunk enough that someone asked another patron to give her a ride home, O’Donnell said.
A bartender did cut off Castelli at one point, and at a shift change told the bartender coming on duty not to serve her. But Castelli was served at least two more drinks before 6 p.m., when she left the bar, O’Donnell said.
Around 6:30 p.m. that night, Castelli was driving south on Woodbourne Road between Bristol Oxford Valley and New Falls roads in Middletown when she struck the rear of a stopped car, according to the suit. The car was parked in front of a downed tree that was blocking the road.
After striking the car, Castelli’s car traveled across the northbound lane of Woodbourne Road and ended up in a woody area, hitting at least one more tree before stopping, according to the suit.
Her blood alcohol level two hours after the accident was .198, which is more than double Pennsylvania’s legal limit of .08.
Castelli suffered serious head, neck and back injuries including a “severe” spinal cord injury and fractured vertebrae. She has residual partial paralysis on her right side including her leg and hand, O’Donnell said.
Castelli was charged with drunken driving as a result of the accident, pleaded guilty in Bucks County Court and was sentenced to 90 days to one year in Bucks County prison, according to online court records.
The lawsuit claims that the Knights of Columbus failed to adequately and properly train and supervise employees in the serving of alcoholic beverages. O’Donnell said the business now requires Responsible Alcohol Management Program training for employees
“We just want to make sure people who have liquor licenses, and get to serve alcohol, have responsibilities as well,” O’Donnell added.
In Pennsylvania, it is illegal to sell or serve alcohol to a visibly intoxicated person, but the liquor-license holder (typically the establishment’s owner) not the employees, is held criminally and civilly liable for the actions of an intoxicated customer, according to the Pennsylvania Tavern Association.
Pennsylvania State Police are responsible for enforcing liquor laws, but typically handle violations administratively — by taking action against an establishment’s liquor license. Instead of jail time, the potential penalties include fines, license suspensions or revocations.
Seventy-eight Pennsylvania establishments with liquor licenses were cited in 2011 for serving visibly intoxicated people, down from 120 citations the year before.
To promote responsible alcohol service, the Pennsylvania Tavern Association has pushed RAMP training for members. The training is designed to educate Pennsylvania licensees and their employees on the policies and regulations of the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board.
As of last year, the training is mandatory for new liquor license holders and managers, but there is no requirement that employees who serve or sell alcohol be RAMP trained.
Jo Ciavaglia: 215-949-4181; email:; Twitter: @jociavaglia