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North Briefs: 7/25/01

Wednesday, July 25, 2001


A lawsuit is challenging the ability of Verizon Wireless to offer its wireless phone protection insurance to customers who purchase cellular telephone service.

The lawsuit, filed yesterday in Allegheny County Common Pleas Court by Gregory E. Greiff of Shaler, claims that neither Verizon nor its employees has the license to sell insurance or the certificate of qualification as an insurance agent required under state law.

It is asking a common pleas court judge to order refunds to all Verizon Wireless customers who purchased the protection insurance and who pay a monthly fee to maintain it. The lawsuit also seeks to be certified as a class action.

Customers purchase the insurance for a fee of $3.95 a month. It protects their phone against loss, damage, theft or breakdown. According to the lawsuit, the insurance program is underwritten by Zurich American Insurance and administered by the Merrimac Group.

Christy Sebastian, a spokeswoman for Verizon Wireless, said the company believed it met all requirements of the law, not only in Pennsylvania but in other states as well. She said customers were buying the insurance through Merrimac, not Verizon, which she described as a "third-party vendor."

Verizon includes the fee as part of its statement because it is a "convenient way for customers to pay the monthly insurance premium," she said.

The lawsuit alleged that Verizon retains a percentage of the premium. Sebastian said she did not know whether or not that was the case.


A Valencia man accused of robbing two banks twice pleaded guilty yesterday in federal court.

Jay A. Goldie, 42, admitted he robbed the Dollar Bank branch in McCandless on July 25, 2000, and again on Nov. 20, 2000. He also robbed the PNC Bank branch in Hampton on Oct. 23 and Nov. 13.

Although he pleaded guilty to only two counts of bank robbery, Goldie accepted responsibility for all four robberies and will be sentenced accordingly on Oct. 16.


Linda Cappabianca said she will not support her friend, Gayle Wright, in a bid for the state House seat once held by her late husband, Italo Cappabianca.

Italo Cappabianca died of brain cancer in May.

Democratic committee members chose Wright over Cappabianca as the party's nominee for an Aug. 14 special election to fill the 2nd Legislative District seat.

"I guess I just feel hurt over the whole situation, mostly because she really didn't call me and discuss what she was going to do," Cappabianca said.

Cappabianca said it is unlikely she would vote for Wright's Republican opponent, but might vote for herself as a write-in candidate.

Wright said she was disappointed to learn about Cappabianca's comments.

Ronald DiNicola, chairman of the Erie County Democratic Party, said he believes Wright will win the election with our without Cappabianca's support.

Officer seeks job back

An Erie police officer acquitted last week of rape and assault charges has asked to be reinstated to the police force.

Sean Perseo, 30, was acquitted of raping, beating and threatening to kill Meg Perseo, his wife of 11 years and the mother of his three children.

Perseo, however, pleaded guilty in March to violating a restraining order filed by his wife after the alleged attack.

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