Oil City News

Former Crawford County jail warden charged with soliciting 17-year-old for sex

Wednesday we reported to you Former Crawford County Correctional Facility Warden Timothy Lee Lewis, 54, of Meadville, recently released ahead of schedule from Erie County Jail with medical issues from jail time on conviction of the theft of over a hundred and twenty thousand dollars from the Meadville Moose Lodge is facing charges of corruption of minors.   Attorney General Josh Shapiro is out with a statement on the filing of criminal charges Lewis for soliciting sex from a 17-year-old boy.  

The charges against Timothy Lee Lewis, 54, are the result of an investigation by the Pennsylvania State Police Bureau of Criminal Investigation. The Office of Attorney General’s Criminal Prosecutions Section is prosecuting the case.

Lewis is accused of communicating with the victim through Facebook.  On multiple occasions, he asked the victim to meet him at different locations for sex.

Lewis is accused of offering the victim a $500 cash gift as an inducement. One source, U.S. News and World Report, reports on occasion Lewis offered the victim $1000.   BCI says all of this happened between November 2013 and December 2014 at locations in Venango and Crawford Counties including the Moose Lodge 2505 in East Fairfield Township, Crawford  County.  BCI reports the victim never accepted Lewis' alleged propositions and that Lewis allegedly exposed himself to the boy. 

 “Adults who prey on our youth for their own gratification will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law,” Attorney General Shapiro said. “Whoever the perpetrator is, no one is above the law.”

Lewis is charged with misdemeanor charges of corruption of minors, indecent assault, promoting prostitution and open lewdness.  The charges were filed Tuesday with Magisterial District Court Judge Matthew T. Kirtland in Franklin.  Lewis was charged by way of a summons. 

Online court records do not list an attorney for Lewis.

The Office of Attorney General prosecuted Lewis and his wife last year for stealing approximately $129,000 from Moose Lodge No while he and his wife served in administrative roles at the lodge. The money was stolen during a time when the couple incurred significant gambling losses.

Lewis pleaded guilty to a second-degree felony charge of theft by unlawful taking in a plea deal. He was sentenced to nine to 23 months in prison. He is currently on parole for that offense having been released early from incarceration at the Erie County Jail for blood pressure related issues earlier this year. 

Attorney General Shapiro has nothing but praise for the Pennsylvania State Police for its work that led to the latest charges filed against Lewis. “The Pennsylvania State Police did exemplary work,” Attorney General Shapiro said. “Whether it’s cooperating on breaking up a heroin ring, uncovering a consumer scam, or investigating a child predator, cooperation with local, state and federal law enforcement is essential to our work. It helps makes Pennsylvanians safer.”


A preliminary hearing for Lewis is set for June 7 at 1:30 in Judge Kirtland's Franklin office.  


City Council Gives in to Atheists, Removing 'God' from Local Park

An atheist's group is the victor in a controversy in Oil City over removing a bench in Justus Park bearing the word "God".  "Men who aren't governed by God, will be governed by tyrants." That's the quote on a park bench at the heart of the controversy.

It was erected through the efforts of a local Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) chapter. Up until now, the bench has sat in the quiet riverside park in Oil City.

The quote was originally a statement made by the founder of Pennsylvania, William Penn.  

But the American Atheists (AA) argue the bench is a violation of the United States Constitution.  

In a letter, they claim it, "contains an overtly religious message which endorses one particular religious viewpoint: Christianity."

Multiple news outlets, some national, report  Oil City City Council finally succumbed to the atheists' demands, and unanimously voted to remove the bench. 

While many in Oil City want to contend for the bench, their city council is less enthusiastic about a legal battle even though a save the bench campaign raised over $17,000 to assist with possible legal fees.  And the Liberty Counsel is offering free legal assistance if the case advance to court.   

City Manager of Oil City, Mark Shroyer is reported confirming while litigation is very likely at this point, such actions to save the bench may not be worthwhile, a view apparently shared by city attorney Robert Varsek. 


The VFW will with the approval of the city remove the bench from Justus Park and reinstall it on its on property for all to view.  


OC Driver Held for DUI, Fleeing, Eluding

A driver in Oil City is charged with Fleeing and Eluding, Driving Under the Influence, Careless Driving and Disorderly Conduct in connection with an incident shortly after 2 last Friday morning.  An Oil City police officer attempted to make a traffic stop in the Municipal Lot on Center Street.  Police say the driver, Kenneth Fentem failed to stop as required, eventually stopping blocks away in front of 112 Seely Avenue.  Police say Fentem got out of his truck, threw his keys toward the officer, began yelling at the officer and refused to stop when ordered.  Police say Fentem was found to be under the influence of an alcoholic beverage and was arrested.  He was arraigned before Magisterial District Judge Andrew Fish in nearby Cornplanter Township and lodged in the Venango County Jail after failing to post $5,000 bond.  


Duncomb, Elm, and Seneca Streets, Oil City, Venango County to Reopen


Oil City, PA –Duncomb Street between Seneca Street and Elm Street in Oil City, Venango County is reopened.  Also, lane restrictions on Seneca Street and Elm Street are lifted. 

Duncomb Street had been closed and one lane had been restricted on Seneca and Elm Streets due to demolition work at the former Oil City parking ramp. 

PennDOT urges motorists to slow down when driving in work zones, and also to be alert to changing conditions, avoid distractions and to pay attention to signs and flaggers. Drive responsibly in work zones for your safety and the safety of the workers.


PennDOT to Hold SKID Bike Demonstration, Motorcycle Safety Outreach

Wednesday, PennDOT will hold a motorcycle safety demonstration and informational event for media representatives. A spokesperson for Pennsylvania Motorcycle Safety Program (PAMSP) will be on hand to conduct the demonstration and answer questions about Pennsylvania’s free training courses. 

WHAT: PennDOT will hold a motorcycle safety demonstration and informational event for media at the District 1 office.

WHEN: April 12, 2017; 1:30 PM – 2 PM


WHERE: PennDOT District 1 Office, Rearing Parking Lot, 255 Elm Street, Oil City, 16301


OCPD Cites Man for Removing Blue Autism Ribbons

An Oil City man is cited for removing the blue Autism Awareness ribbons posted recently on the Veterans Bridge in Oil City.  The Oil City Police Department reports at about 6 pm Sunday,  they received a report that someone had been removing the blue ribbons from the bridge at about 2 pm Sunday afternoon.  The ribbons had been placed by a local civic group.  It is reported after removing the ribbons the from the west side of the Veterans Bridge, the individual walked off the north end of the bridge. 

Monday morning about 11 a.m., OCPD received a call reporting a person seen cutting more of the blue ribbons off the east side of the bridge.  The report was of a male actively removing the ribbons on both days. 

Officers arrived on the scene, stopping, identifying and speaking with James E. Proper, 69, of Oil City; who was still in possession of the ribbons in the bag.  As the officers spoke with Proper he initially provided misleading statements to officers regarding his activities.  When confronted with facts known by the officers, Proper admitted to being the individual removing the ribbons on both days. 


Police say they took Proper from the bridge to the Oil City Police Station where officers issued four non traffic citations for his actions:  One count of Criminal Mischief, one count of Disorderly conduct , for his actions on two separate days both Sunday and Monday.  Proper was released on his own recognizance after the citations were issued.  


UPDATE: 4 of 5 Sex Charges Dropped Against Cooperstown Man

You may remember we told you about a 21 year old Cooperstown man earlier this week is wanted on a February 24th warrant from the Oil City Police Department for sex offences alleged to have been committed with a minor under the age of 16.  Kyle Heffern  was free on $100,000 unsecured bond last Friday bond following a following a preliminary arraignment Friday before Magisterial District Court Judge Andrew Fish.  There are some new developments. 

After a preliminary hearing, Four of the five charges leveled against Heffern have been withdrawn including three felonies and a second class misdemeanor: F1 IDSI Person Less Than 16 Yrs Age; F2 Statutory Sexual Assault: 4-8 Years Older; F2 Agg. Ind. Assault - Comp. Less Than 16; and M2 Ind Asslt Person Less 16 Yrs Age.  The sole remaining charge waived for court is M1 Corruption of Minors.  All of this according to online court records


Heffern waived a scheduled April 5th preliminary hearing before Magisterial District Judge Andrew Fish.  Heffern is represented by Oil City Attorney Neil Rothschild.  Heffern remains free on $100,000 unsecured bond.  


PennDOT Shows OC Multi-Modal Hub Plans

The demolition of the old parking ramp and garage in Oil City is well ahead of schedule and construction of a new parking facility should begin toward the end of the year.  An open house at the Penn Dot District 1 Headquarters in Oil City last night was the perfect  opportunity for state and local PennDOT officials to show off the plans for the Multi Modal Transportation Facility  to be built on the grounds of the present PennDOT parking lot.  The facility will be a two story structure with administrative functions on the second floor and first level will house buses and waiting and reception areas among other things. 


Penn DOT representative Angela Watson says the agency hopes to go out for bid on the new parking facility  by autumn.  In 2018 Venango County transit operations would be based out of the Multi Modal Facility.  


Pgh. Man Allegedly Assaualted OCPD Officer

A 54 Year old Pittsburgh man is lodged in the Venango County Jail on $50,000 bond, awaiting a preliminary hearing, accused by the Oil City Police of Aggravated Assault and Resisting Arrest related to a late Sunday afternoon incident at East First and State Streets.  Police say they arrested Matthew Robert Henc for several other charges as well:  Simple Assault, Harassment, Possession of a Controlled Substance and Possession of Drug Paraphernalia and Public Intoxication. Patrolman Cory Ruditus reports he responded to a report of an incident involving a suspicious and possibly intoxicated person.  Officers found Henc under the influence of alcohol and a controlled substance, also having a an outstanding bench warrant. 

Patrolman Ruditus says Henc was taken into custody and transported to OCPD Headquarters where Henc engaged in a physical altercation with officer and struck one officer in head and face.  Police a search incident to Henc's arrest was carried out and he was found to be in possession of an unspecified amount of marijuana and then lodged in the Venango County Jail on the bench warrant. 


Henc was arraigned on Monday afternoon before Magisterial District Judge Matthew T. Kirtland and is scheduled for a preliminary hearing April 5th in Venango County Central Court.  Henc is represented by Venango County Public Defender Jerri Louise Bolten.  


OC Man Charged w/Assault, Harassment in Domestic

A fifty year old Oil City man charged with an incident of domestic violence is lodged in the Venango County Jail unable to post $75,000 monetary bond.  According to a news release from the Oil City Police Department, officers responded Monday night shortly before 10 pm to 112 West Third Street for a male vs. female  domestic situation.  The police say officers spoke to the female victim who state her husband, Brent Wayne Wise, head butted her and punched her in the head several times.  Wise is reported to have "...then heard (sic) (hurled) her down and threatened to "stick" her with a screw driver.  Wise also covered her mouth when she was screaming for help. 

Wise was arrested for simple assault and harassment and arraigned before Magisterial District Judge Patrick E. Lowrey at 11:30 pm. and remanded. 


Wise is charged with Misdemeanor 2 Simple Assault and Summary Harassment, Subject another to physical contact.  A preliminary hearing set for Wednesday March 29th, in Venango County Central Court..  Wise is not yet represented by an attorney.  

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