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Pa. court briefs

May 31, 2007|by DON AINES

Restaurant owner sentenced in fire



CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - A Huntingdon, Pa., man was sentenced Wednesday to Franklin County Prison and ordered to pay more than $190,000 in restitution for setting fire to a restaurant two years ago.

Giovani Ferrara, 47, pleaded no contest to arson April 17 in the May 30, 2005, fire at Original Italian Pizza and Restaurant, 3218 Lincoln Way West. Pennsylvania State Police said Ferrara owned the restaurant business, but not the building, in which the fire was set.

Police said Ferrara was interviewed at the scene after the fire and he told investigators that he was out of the county when he received a cell phone call about the fire. Police said they got Ferrara's consent to search his vehicle and found boxes of frozen shrimp and chicken patties, along with a spray bottle filled with gasoline.

Ferrara told police the gasoline was for his vehicle in case he ran out of gas because the fuel gauge did not work, according to the affidavit of probable cause. He later told police he was upset that the business was losing money and that he threw a cigarette near a pile of cardboard boxes in the restaurant, but did not intentionally set the fire.

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Judge Richard Walsh ordered Ferrara to pay $193,143.74 in restitution to the company that insured the building.




Woman sentenced on sex assault charge



CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - A Fayetteville, Pa., woman was sentenced Wednesday in Franklin County Court to five years probation for having sexual relations with a 14-year-old girl while she was an employee of a group home.

Jennifer Maria Ortega, 23, of 20 W. Main St., pleaded no contest in February to institutional sexual assault, according to court records. She was fined $500 by Judge Douglas Herman, who ordered her not to have contact with females under the age of 18.

Chambersburg police were contacted by a Pennsylvania Department of Public Welfare official in July 2006, according to the affidavit of probable cause. The foster parents of the girl contacted the department after reading in her journal about a relationship with Ortega, police said.

The relationship began when the girl was at the Mountain Valley Center in Chambersburg, where Ortega was employed. The relationship continued after Ortega was no longer an employee, with Ortega picking the girl up on two occasions after the girl had run away from the group home, police said.

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