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North Braddock Man Faces DUI Charges After Driving Wrong Way

District Judge Thomas Caulfield hears several cases in his Forest Hills courtroom last week.

John W. Banks, 65, of North Braddock faces three different DUI charges after an accident occurred while he was driving the wrong way Dec. 16, 2012 on Ardmore Boulevard in Forest Hills.

Banks waived his right to a preliminary hearing before District Judge Thomas Caulfield on Feb. 13 on charges of driving under the influence (general impairment/incapable of driving safely, second offense), driving under the influence (high rate of alcohol, blood alcohol content .10 to .16, second offense) and driving under the influence (general impairment/incapable of driving safety, first offense).

Charges of driving the wrong way and two counts of careless driving filed by Forest Hills police were withdrawn.

According to a criminal complaint, Forest Hills police responded to what appeared to be a two-vehicle crash in the eastbound fast lane of the 2200 block of Ardmore Boulevard. The driver of a second vehicle told police he observed Banks driving the wrong way down the highway.

A 1997 Suzuki attempted to stop but was struck by Banks' car. Police detected the odor of an alcoholic beverage coming from Banks. The complaint states his eyes were glazed and bloodshot, and he had trouble maintaining his balance. Banks failed field sobriety tests.

His blood alcohol content registered at .116 percent on a breath-analyzer test. The legal limit is .08 percent.

In other cases heard by Caulfield last week:

  • Danny Stewart Haftl, 27, of Verona waived his right to a preliminary hearing on charges of driving under the influence (general impairment/incapable of driving safely, first offense), driving under the influence (highest rate of alcohol, blood alcohol content .16+, first offense), driving without a license, operating a vehicle without the required financial responsibility, failure to stop at a red signal and driving at a safe speed. According to a criminal complaint filed by Churchill police, an officer observed Haftl's truck drive around a median and through a steady red signal heading northbound on Beulah Road at William Penn Highway on Dec. 2, 2012. The officer had to accelerate to catch up with Haftl going downhill and around sharp curves at a high rate of speed. When the officer initiated a traffic stop, he observed Haftl swaying in his seat. The officer noted Haftl's speech was slurred, that he was acting lethargic and had an odor of alcohol emitting from him. Haftl failed field sobriety tests. He was transported to Forbes Regional Hospital for a blood draw, which was then taken to the Allegheny County Crime Lab for processing.
  • Justin T. Zottola, 30, of Export waived his right to a preliminary hearing on charges of driving under the influence (controlled substance or metabolite, first offense), driving under the influence (controlled substance, impaired ability, first offense) and driving while operating privileges are suspended or revoked. Charges of use/possession of drug paraphernalia, driving under the influence (general impairment/incapable of driving safely, first offense), driving without a license, disregard traffic lane (single) and careless driving filed by Churchill police were withdrawn. According to a criminal complaint, an officer on patrol measured a white Chevy pickup truck traveling at 58 mph in a 35-mph zone on Dec. 28, 2012. The truck also crossed the center line prior to being pulled over at Huntingdon Drive. The officer noted Zottola's eyes were glassy and bloodshot, and that he had difficulty concentrating and answering questions. During a frisk, the officer recovered a plastic straw with a powdery residue inside a cigarette pack. There was no odor of alcohol on Zottola. Police recovered five empty stamp bags, each containing an off-white powdery residue. A blood sample was taken at Forbes Regional Hospital and taken to the Allegheny County Forensics Lab for analysis.
  • Randy Phillip Hudson, 27, of Swissvale waived his right to a preliminary hearing on charges of intentional possession of a controlled substance by a person not registered, and two counts of driving under the influence (general impairment/incapable of driving safely, first offense). Charges of manufacture, delivery or possession with intent to manufacture or deliver; driving under the influence (highest rate of alcohol, blood alcohol content .16+, first offense), reckless driving and two counts of use/possession of drug paraphernalia filed by Swissvale police were withdrawn. According to a criminal complaint, a man and woman on Roslyn Street flagged down a Swissvale patrol car on Jan. 20 to report that a black Lincoln turned onto Bruce Way and almost hit them. As officers initiated a traffic stop, they noticed the driver making furtive movements and one officer saw Hudson place sandwich bags in the compartment of the driver's side door. The officers noticed a strong odor of alcohol and a heavy odor of marijuana coming from Hudson, whose speech was slurred, and eyes were glassy and bloodshot. When Hudson exited the vehicle, there appeared to be marijuana on the driver's seat. Officers also recovered two sandwich bags containing suspected marijuana, two empty bags with their corners cut off and marijuana residue inside, a black digitial scale. Hudson failed field sobriety tests.
  • Anthony Morgavo, 57, of Forest Hills waived his right to a preliminary hearing on a charge of receiving stolen property. According to a criminal complaint filed by Forest Hills police, Morgavo's son, Michael Morgavo, confessed to stealing a necklace from a Chalfant apartment. He told police that the cross necklace was sold to Pawn Starz in North Versailles by his father. An officer was able to obtain a photocopy of the transaction showing Anthony Morgavo sold the chain on Aug. 29, 2012.
  • Brandon Dallas, 29, of Swissvale waived his right to a preliminary hearing on charges of criminal use of a communication facility, intentional possession of a controlled substance by a person not registered, and two counts of manufacture, delivery or possession with intent to manufacture or deliver. According to a criminal complaint, District Attorney Narcotics Enforcement Team officers in the area on Aug. 7, 2012 observed a drug transaction between Dallas and an unidentified man, and Dallas was apprehended after a traffic stop conducted by Swissvale police. 
  • James Anthony Perez, 24, of Swissvale waived his right to a preliminary hearing on charges of disorderly conduct/hazardous-physical offense, and resisting arrest/other law enforcement filed by Swissvale police. According to a criminal complaint, police responded to a residence in the 7900 block of St. Lawrence Avenue twice on Jan. 12, the first time for two men fighting, and then for a loud noise disturbance and screams for help. Officers knocked on the door for 10 to 15 minutes and heard movements inside, but no one answered the door. The fire department was called for assistance in opening the door. As the door was opened, Perez assumed an aggressive fighting stance toward the two officers. After resisting arrest, he was taken into custody. Perez refused to provide his name or date of birth. He was taken to Allegheny County Jail.

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