Judge: Man To Stand Trial Following Alleged Friendship Ridge Incident

court

A Rochester man remains in jail tonight, after Magisterial District Judge Douglas Loughner ordered he will stand trial on charges of carrying a firearm without a permit.

A preliminary hearing was held today for Larry A. Hicks, a man that Sheriff George David said was “locked and loaded” and prepared to commit mass murder at the county’s Friendship Ridge nursing home back on January 17th. “He’s making threats and I think he would have followed through on those threats, but we stopped him, myself and my men stopped him, thank god,” David told news crews at the time. “This is a facility with elderly people and disabled people in wheelchairs. They can’t move. We averted a tragedy here today,” he was similarly quoted as saying.

Sheriff David’s news blitz about the case came just one day after he pleaded his Fifth Amendment Rights against self incrimination during a hearing on private security services performed by his office.

Along with the weapons charge, Deputy Cpl. John Joe Fratangeli had charged Larry Hicks with defiant trespass, harassment, and felony terroristic threats. A series of investigative reports published by the Beaver Countian raised serious questions about Fratangeli’s sworn Affidavit of Probable Cause used to substantiate his charges against Hicks. District Attorney Anthony Berosh dropped all of those charges following an independent investigation conducted by his Detectives. Berosh said Deputies had overstepped their authority when they conducted their investigation, and said serious questions remained about the case which “almost reached mythical proportions.”

A single count of carrying a firearm without a permit was subsequently refiled by Detectives, which was the subject of today’s hearing.

The Testimony

Deputy Paul Clark was the first witness to take the stand for the prosecution. Clark testified that on January 3rd he went to Heritage Valley Beaver, along with Deputies Shane and O’Sche, to execute a bench warrant that had been issued against Larry Hicks. Hicks was located in the hallway near his mother’s room in the hospital, and placed under arrest. Deputies discovered a firearm on the man, who provided them with a permit to carry the concealed weapon. “I looked at the permit and it was valid,” said Clark. “I explained to Mr. Hicks that the permit would be revoked.” Deputy Clark said he seized the permit, and that the revocation was approved by Sheriff David.

On cross examination by defense attorney Gerald “Jerry” Benyo, Clark admitted that a report written after the encounter made no mention that Hicks was told his carry permit was going to be revoked.

Next to testify was Stephanie Guidice of the Sheriff’s Office Firearms Division. Guidice testified that she was handed Hicks’ permit by Deputy Clark, and that she subsequently processed the revocation. She said a certified letter notifying Hicks that his permit had been revoked was mailed out on January 3rd.

Deputy Sgt. Michael Tibolet was the final witness to take the stand for the prosecution, to testify about an incident that occurred less than two weeks later.

“I walked into the office and Staff Sgt. [Kevin] Lupo told myself and [Deputy John Joe Fratangeli] that [Hicks] was on the bench with a gun at Friendship Ridge,” testified Tibolet about the morning of January 17th. Upon arrival, Tibolet said he saw Hicks sitting on a bench next to an elderly African American man who was in a wheelchair. Tibolet said Deputy Fratangeli walked up to Hicks and shook his hand.

“I asked him if he had a weapon, he said yes he did,” testified Tibolet. “As soon as he said he had a weapon, Cpl. Fratangeli put the handcuffs on him.” Tibolet said Hicks was cooperative throughout the encounter, and was transported back to the courthouse.

On cross examination by defense attorney Benyo, Deputy Tibolet said the entire incident, from the time he left the courthouse to the time he returned with Larry Hicks, took less than 15 minutes. Tibolet said he and Deputy Fratangeli never entered the Friendship Ridge facility, and that he never conducted any additional investigation.

“You had no info about any terror threats,” asked Benyo? “No,” replied Deputy Tibolet.

“He should never have been issued a permit in the first place,” said prosecutor Frank Martocci at the conclusion of his case. Martocci noted Hicks had a conviction in 1989 for criminal conspiracy to commit robbery, and a simple assault conviction back in 1992. Defense Attorney Benyo countered that Hicks had lawfully obtained a permit to carry his firearm, which was issued to him by Sheriff George David. Martocci suggested that Hicks may have lied on his application for the permit.

Defense Attorney Benyo called his sole witness to the stand, Central Services Director Mary Anne Ruskin. Ruskin testified that the revocation letter sent out by the Sheriff’s Office has still never found its way to Larry Hicks. “It was processed, but has not been delivered, and no attempts have been made to deliver it,” said Ruskin. She said tracking information for the letter shows it is still listed as being “in transit,” and that it has never left a postal sorting facility in Pittsburgh for delivery.

“There is no evidence that the Sheriff followed the law in revoking this permit,” said Defense Attorney Benyo in his closing. “[Larry Hicks] did not intend to commit a crime,” said Benyo, who insisted that Hicks was never notified his permit had been revoked. “He even shook the Deputy’s hand,” noted Benyo. “There was a mythical investigation into this case … end it today your honor.”

“Carrying a firearm without a permit is not a right,” said prosecutor Frank Martocci in his closing. “All this other business brought up by Mr. Benyo has nothing to do with it.”

Magisterial District Judge Douglas Loughner ordered the case to proceed to trial. Larry Hicks was transported back to the Beaver County Jail, where he is being held after failing to post a $2,500 bond set in the case by District Judge Tim Finn.

“It appears that the Commonwealth is going to go to great lengths to find Mr. Hicks guilty of some crime” said defense attorney Jerry Benyo after the hearing. “It does not appear to matter at all that the Sheriff issued a License to Carry and failed to follow Pennsylvania law as to any revocation of that license … Even after clearly establishing that the certified letter of revocation has not even left the post office, the Commonwealth insists on pursuing this case.”

Arresting Deputy Absent From Courtroom

Notably absent from the courtroom today was Deputy Cpl. John Joe Fratangeli, the man who actually placed Larry Hicks under arrest on the day in question. Law enforcement sources have told the Beaver Countian that there is an active criminal investigation into the Sheriff Deputies’ handling of the alleged incident at Friendship Ridge, and into the subsequent sworn affidavit filed by Deputy Fratangeli. District Attorney Berosh has previously declined to comment when asked directly if his office was conducting such an investigation. Courthouse sources tell the Beaver Countian that Deputy Fratangeli has retained a private criminal defense attorney.

“It is ironic that Mr. Martocci made a big deal out of his allegations that Mr. Hicks was not truthful on a license to carry application form,” said defense attorney Benyo. “The arresting officer in this case is currently being investigated by the District Attorney’s Detective Bureau over problems with the information he set forth in his affidavit of probable cause.”

 

44 comments

  1. So, in the first report Mr. Hicks was never told his permit was revoked…
    The Letter advising Mr. Hicks never made it to him…
    And John-Joe filed a SWORN criminal complaint that was a complete and intentional lie (cuz he’s no rookie) and was a NO SHOW at the hearing…
    Mr. Hicks is in Jail…Why?

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  2. LOLOL THEY KEP JOHN JO HIDDEN AWAY SOMEONE CHECK THE BROOM CLOSETS MAYBE HE WAS HIDING UNDER A BUCKET LOLOLOL

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  3. “You had no info about any terror threats,” asked Benyo? “No,” replied Deputy Tibolet.

    WHAT A BUNCH OF FUCKIN’ LIARS.

    He was never notified that his permit was revoked. It’s not that he refused the letter. He never even knew he had a letter to get. He has to be notified that his permit has been revoked. The law says you must be notified. Period.

    On cross examination by defense attorney Benyo, Deputy Tibolet said the entire incident, from the time he left the courthouse to the time he returned with Larry Hicks, took less than 15 minutes. Tibolet said he and Deputy Fratangeli never entered the Friendship Ridge facility, and that he never conducted any additional investigation.

    What a bunch of liars. John Jo signed his name to that complaint. I hope he can live with that. Absolutely pathetic. I can’t believe that the Sheriff did this to that man. He stood up on TV and said he made threats. I hope that all of them end up homeless. It’s a real black eye to all the deputies and Police in the area that do a good job and don’t railroad folks for political gain.

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  4. Oh and good job JP for the follow up. Without you this guy might have been convicted of it all.

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  5. What a joke…What a bunch of liars, the man is in jail for WHAT? They say he may of lied on his application for a gun permit, well guess what, didn’t they do a back ground check? Mr Hicks had no business being picked up and taken to jail in the first place.They issued the permit, and he never got the letter to turn it back in. REDUCE HIS BOND AND LET HIM OUT OF JAIL. DON’t waste my tax dollars having a trial on some bullshit charge. I’m sick of all of you from the top down……

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  6. So

    Let me get this straight. Someone testified that there is no way for Mr. Hicks to know his license to carry is suspended and yet they’re acting like he should know?

    Perhaps the sheriffs office should pass out turbans so we can open booths at the county fair telling people’s fortunes.

    This is ridiculous. Ridiculous.

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  7. Just an informative post detailing the revocation of an LTCF.

    (i) Revocation.–A license to carry firearms may be revoked by the issuing authority for good cause. A license to carry firearms shall be revoked by the issuing authority for any reason stated in subsection (e)(1) which occurs during the term of the permit. Notice of revocation shall be in writing and shall state the specific reason for revocation. Notice shall be sent by certified mail to the individual whose license is revoked, and, at that time, notice shall also be provided to the Pennsylvania State Police by electronic means, including e-mail or facsimile transmission, that the license is no longer valid. An individual whose license is revoked shall surrender the license to the issuing authority within five days of receipt of the notice. An individual whose license is revoked may appeal to the court of common pleas for the judicial district in which the individual resides. An individual who violates this section commits a summary offense.

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  8. Poor Mr Hicks got railroaded today, It looks like his attorney did a great job , Benyo got guts I’LL GIVE HIM CREDIT , no matter what he would of done they were determined to keep him in jail. SAD yes this is very SAD, this could happen to any one of us. UNBELIEVABLE.

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  9. georgie should deputise tony berosh after this shit cuz he earned it! hey tony why dont u grow a pair and have your detectives go after georgie or jon jo?

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  10. @boo and yes your right and the other liar ROSATONE who lied and started all this should be FIRED head of security my ass.

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  11. All I can say is “WOW”!!!

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  12. JOHN JO Quiet now brother….

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  13. A crime was comitted by the Sherrif’s office. It’s quite evident. Please don’t go to Walmart if the Sheriff doesn’t care for you. You will be arrested illegally and put in the slammed.
    It’s a shame to target this man but Sheriff David did to hide his cowadrice after claming his right to the 5th. admendment. Wow Georgie, good thinking.
    Now corporal JohnJoe must dig into his own pocket to pay for his legal representation. Perhaps John Havey might be considered.
    By the way, where’s john joe. We do miss your stupid reply’s?
    What don’t you understand, you the sheriff and sergeant Tibolet are going down. Oooos, maybe Tibolet didn’t see anything. Get ready sergeant, evertbody’ watching.

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  14. I forgot to mention, Deputy Clark does not have the right to arbitrarily deprive a person of their property. His LTCF was his until it was to be revoked lawfully and turned in within 5 days. You can’t jut take a persons property property because you feel like it. Where I come from we call that theft.

    But since we are in Beaver County I guess they might call that something else….

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  15. Fantastic job John Paul!

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  16. We need a new District Attorney.

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  17. To bad Judge Loughner didn’t have the balls to dismiss this charge. In hate when people don’t have guts to do there job when he spotlights on them. No way this goes to a trial and Hicks is found guilty.

    As far as John Joe, You can’t handle the truth!

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  18. SpeakTheTruthToo

    It is apparent that they need at least 1 charge to stick so that this didn’t look like the complete and total train wreck that it is. I sure hope it was worth it Sheriff Department and Rosatone. You should know better than to think you can get away with this kind of nonsense in 2013.

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  19. If I could, I would post Mr. Hicks bond. How much is it?

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  20. HAY PROSECUTOR MR.TOUCHME YOU NEVER GONNA BE ELECTED DA IF YOU JUST GONNA BE GEORGIES BITCH PEOPLE SICK OF HIS SHIT

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  21. Harry F. Nicoletti, Jr., is out on bond until March 27 sentencing after being found guilty of 27 of 79 criminal counts, with possible lawsuits to follow. He is reportedly “very embarrassed”, and his lawyer is hopeful for “probation or a stint in the County Jail”. I wonder if his LTCF will be revoked?

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  22. @76 wita95, where you at brother, you called this play by play, from beginning you said it was a media blitz to divert the sheriff pleading fifth, and that it was a lie the only thing wrong was he had permit revoked but still had gun on county property that district justice would bound for trial.

    Now I want to see if your prediction will be correct that corporal fratangeli should be charged and that if he isn’t the district attorney is at fault because he is aware of a crime has evidence of a crime and since we all know it, it would be a crime if he didn’t do the RIGHT THING

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  23. thank you jesus for sheriif george and deputy john, they save many, many lives of old people and workers. They stop this crazy man who going to shoot everyone.
    sheriif george should be hero but you peoples go to complain an try to make george look bad. commisioner need give george and john medal for braveness.

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    • Tbird57, there’s just no hope for you!

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      • hey sd. I no say nithing bad to you an you go keep pick on me i think george beat you up before and now you mad an complain on me an on george.

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    • MEDAL……R U KIDDING ME. FOR WHAT. NOT TELLING THE TRUTH. TIME FOR GEORGE AND HIS LITTLE SHERIFF TO GO. CORRUPTION. THEY SHOULD NOT BE TREATED LIKE THEY R ABOVE THE LAW. NOW IS THE TIME FOR SOMEONE TO DO WHAT IS RIGHT. THIS COUNTY IS A REAL EMBARASSMENT.

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  24. I’ve been reading these sheriff stories for many months and have refrained from responding directly to the stories as, yeah, the guy has a temper and does stupid things and sure, he doesn’t follow all the procedures. Perhaps he is just “old school” and there’s a certain admirability to that at times, on someone focusing more on getting the job done effectively and efficiently and bending a few of the rules. But this. This. What these clowns just did to this man is sick, selfish and dishonorable, and if the “powers that be” do not remove this menace from his position of authority for this obvious abuse of power, then they are just as guilty of this despicable and repulsive sham as the sheriff and his minions. This has to stop.

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  25. Well stated, Bartender.

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  26. @tbird67. While I do not agree with your viewpoints, I do aknowledge your right to express them in this forum. With that being said…Please do yourself a favor and get some assitance from someone who is better versed in english composition, and grammer to help you better articulate your thoughts. If you are able to do that, I think it will lend more validation to your posts.

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    • I agree, cvw. I didn’t say anthing, because it seems that there is some kind of problem there. It goes beyond uneducated to illiteracy. Or, maybe there is some “challenge” he/she is dealing with.

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  27. I am old enough to remember the old jail building in Beaver on Market Street (from the outside), the former Court House and employees, former members of the police forces, etc. Many of these problems are long-standing, not new, although new problems arise almost daily and are layered upon them. What are new are the internet, computers, smartphones, web news sites, the ability of the people to join and provide background to stories online, investigative reporting by a person who knows how and doesn’t have to worry about a timid editor, and a willingness of people to get involved. So, we are now turning over rocks that have been in place for a long time and discovering only now the creatures underneath. Accountability is beginning. The age-old problems and the age-old people and dynasties are being revealed one-by-one. Hopefully, the BC and our efforts to help will help clear the way for the next generation of legitimate government and law enforcement, since the groundwork for transparency and accountability will have been laid. The courts, effective town governing bodies, honest lawyers, professional law enforcers and an active and informed citizenry will chip away at the problems one by one. There are still a huge amount of matters not yet uncovered and/or addressed, but they will be, in time. I am cautiously hopeful. Keep up the excellent work, John Paul.

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  28. I picked up the wipe your ass with BCT today and read that District Justice Loughner was busy with Mr. Rubino, Mr. Grose, Mr. Kay and the sacrificial lamb Mr. Hicks. All four held over for trial. Judge Doug you forgot two of the worst criminals – lying John Jo and the Captain of Crime limping G. David.

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  29. Rubric, you are an awesome person, but the old jail was on Corporation Street. 801 Corporation Street to be exact. Otherwise, you write great and I enjoy your comments, they are level headed and intelligent.

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  30. Guest: I stand corrected. It faced the park. We used to walk past the long high-walled exercise yard on the side on the way to the old Junior High School on Market Street, a block away. We could move the classroom floors up and down by bouncing our legs up and down in unison.

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  31. Tbird67: Stop wasting shop class computer time and get back to work. You’ve had your fun.

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  32. Tbird67: You get around, don’t you?! Nice try here, but no cigar.

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  33. Just a question for the officers whom post on here. Any chance John Jo is a victim in this incident? ln an attempt to be objective l believe John Jo assumed that he was yaking Hicks on the concealed violation. whether there was an actual violation is obviously in question. Once at the courthouse the Sherriff informed him of the terroristic threats. My main question is if your Chief came to you and explaind this is what was said how many of you say “ok go write it yourself Chief, fuck the chain of command” Hopefully most work for honorable Chiefs but that is obviously not the case for John Jo.

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  34. If I’m not mistaken doesn’t this fall under the last chance agreement? If that is the case than this is by far his last chance. Why is he still working.There have been peple fired for far less that this. It would seem to me that to blantly falsify a sworn statement is against the law. How embarassing this is.Do the rules only apply to the people that George wants to destroy. George and his stooges need to be taken out of office. What kind of creditabily does this show to our Sheirff Department. Everthing is going to be questioned from this point on. How are does this have to go before something is done.

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  35. Wasn’t an officer dismissed under the guise of “poor spelling and grammar” in his reports? I suppose as long as everything is grammatically correct and spelled properly, it doesn’t matter if they’re lies. (Haha)

    I still can’t believe they are holding him in jail. This whole incident with Mr. Hicks, is built on sand and should be thrown out.

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  36. The whole topic of police reports could occupy a separate investigative article here. Take a look at some, if you can. Formula reports straight from the photocopier. Exact same words, exact same descriptions. Many could be challenged and dismissed before even thinking about a hearing if the defense lawyer would just do his job.

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