2021 Nanticoke PD News

11/9/2021
Police: Color of underwear leads to man being caught for pulling fire alarms
elewis@timesleader.com


PLAINS TWP. — A Nanticoke man set off the fire alarm and extinguishers after fighting with a girlfriend inside Woodspring Suites on Friday, according to court records.
Erik R. Masaitis, 37, of West Church Street, was identified as the culprit after police reviewed surveillance video and confirmed the color of his underwear, court records say.
Firefighters who responded to the hotel’s alarm told police the suspect wore orange underwear, the same color Masaitis had on when he was detained.
According to the criminal complaint:
Police responded to the hotel on Bear Creek Boulevard at the request of the township fire department just after 10 p.m.
Firefighters told police a man wearing a yellow reflective vest and orange underwear set off the fire alarm and extinguishers.
Police found three empty fire extinguishers on a luggage cart on an elevator covered with powder like residue, and a smashed picture in a second floor hallway.
Several fire extinguishers were missing from wall mounts and an empty extinguisher was found on the fourth floor, the complaint says.
Police in the complaint say the sprinkler system in a stairwell near the fourth floor was damaged.
As officers remained at the scene, Masaitis exited a rear door and attempted to hide behind a dumpster, the complaint says.
Police said Masaitis was wearing sweatpants that were falling down exposing orange underwear.
Masaitis went back into the hotel and banged on doors and screamed on the third floor where he pulled a fire alarm, the complaint says.
Masaitis allegedly told police he had a fight with his girlfriend in their third-floor room.
Masaitis was charged with two counts each of false alarm to agency of public safety and criminal mischief and a single count of disorderly conduct. He was released on $10,000 unsecured bail.

 

11/3/2021
Police: Nanticoke woman facing charges after assaulting two nurses, one pregnant 
by: Sami Squires 
Posted: Nov 3, 2021 / 03:32 PM EDT / Updated: Nov 3, 2021 / 07:30 PM EDT

 
SCRANTON, LACKAWANNA COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) — A Nanticoke woman is facing assault charges after police say two nurses were attacked in a Geisinger hospital in Scranton on Halloween, including one who was pregnant.
According to the criminal complaint, a nurse was working in the mental health area of Geisinger CMC on Sunday when a patient, identified as Elizabeth Young, 19, approached her from behind and attacked her.
Young allegedly punched the nurse in the face and kneed her in the stomach before she was able to escape the area.
Police say the nurse was visibly pregnant.
Young was taken back to her room and the injured nurse was taken to get an ultrasound to check on the unborn baby, the complaint states.
Approximately an hour later, another nurse reported that Young came out of her room, again, in which he escorted her back. As he exited, the nurse told police Young ran at him and struck him in the upper body. 
He was able to push her back and she fell to the ground. Security were able to restrain Young and put her in a locked room. 
An officer guarded her room as she stayed overnight for evaluation.
Police have not released the nurses’ conditions or the status of the unborn baby.
Young has been charged with aggravated assault, simple assault, recklessly endangering another person, disorderly conduct, and harassment.

 

10/19/2021
Man who threatened patrons at WB bar had illegal firearm
kcarroll@timesleader.com

 

WILKES-BARRE — A Nanticoke man arrested after he reportedly threatened patrons and employees at a bar in Wilkes-Barre was found to be in illegal possession of a firearm, according to Wilkes-Barre City police.

Sintyl Wilkerson, 30, was taken into custody on Sunday morning after the white sedan he was traveling in was found to be the same car that had fled the scene of an incident at Encore Bar and Lounge on South Main Street.

According to the criminal complaint:

Officers from the Wilkes-Barre City Police Department were dispatched to Encore shortly before 2 a.m. on Sunday morning after receiving reports that a former employee of the bar, known to carry a firearm, was making threats toward employees and patrons of the bar.

Dispatchers from Luzerne County 911 relayed to officers as they were heading to the scene that the suspect had left in a white sedan and was headed toward Public Square.

An officer traveling southbound on South Main Street observed a white Kia sedan traveling north without headlights on. This sedan was confirmed to be the same car that the suspect left Encore in earlier based on its tags.

The vehicle was pulled over by police on East Northampton Street, and the driver of the vehicle was identified as Wilkerson.

According to the complaint, Wilkerson apologized and told police that he had left the Encore parking lot, and also asked if security at the bar had called the police on him.

The officer asked Wilkerson if there were any firearms in the car; he said that there was, but it was registered to his girlfriend, who also owned the car.

Wilkerson and a passenger in the vehicle were asked to step out of the vehicle, and Wilkerson gave the officer consent to search the vehicle.

In the glove compartment, a black unloaded 9-millimeter firearm was located and secured by the officer. The search also revealed two loaded 18-round magazines and two 50-cartridge ammunition boxes in the center console.

An information check on Wilkerson revealed that he did not have a license to carry a firearm, and is also the defendant for an active protection from abuse (PFA) order that deemed him a person not allowed to carry a firearm.

Records from the Pennsylvania State Police confirmed that the PFA order against Wilkerson was active until April 18, 2022.

Wilkerson was taken into custody without incident following the search of the vehicle.

He was arraigned in front of Magisterial District Judge Michael Dotzel and charged with prohibited possession of a firearm and carrying a firearm without a license — both felony charges.

Wilkerson was lodged at the Luzerne County Correctional Facility for failure to post $125,000 in bail. A preliminary hearing is scheduled for Oct. 27.

 

7/22/2021
Sex offender sentenced for failing to register address
elewis@timesleader.com


WILKES-BARRE — A registered sex offender in Nanticoke convicted by a Luzerne County jury of failing to register his address was sentenced to state prison Wednesday.
Judge David W. Lupas sentenced Jay Elwood Conden, 26, of Franklin Street, to 18 months to three years in prison on two counts of failure to verify address as required under the state’s Megan’s Law.
A jury convicted Conden following a trial that ended May 19. He remained free on bail but was immediately taken into custody by sheriff deputies when Lupas imposed the sentence.
State police arrested Conden July 30 when he was found working at an auto repair garage on Slocum Street in Exeter.
Court records say Conden registered his address as a homeless transient on June 18, 2020, as he initially reported his residence on Decker Lane in Pittston Township prior to being released on parole March 16, 2020, after serving a sentence on sex offenses from 2018.
Records from the Luzerne County Adult Probation Department indicated Conden reported he was living with a girlfriend in Meshoppen, Wyoming County, and employed at the garage in Exeter.
Investigators learned Conden was actually living with a co-worker from the garage. The co-worker told investigators, court records say, Conden identified himself as Jay Compton and spent time in jail for a bar fight.
Court records say Conden was arrested by county detectives in September 2018 on allegations he had sex with a teenage girl and exchanged lewd pictures on social media. He was sentenced Oct. 8, 2019, to one-to-two years in the county correctional facility after he pleaded guilty to statutory sexual assault and child pornography. He was released on parole after he registered the Pittston Township address, according to court records.
During the sentencing hearing, Conden asked how long was 18 months, at which, Lupas replied, “It’s a year and a half.”
His attorney, Carly Ann Hislop, said Conden had a difficult time living and obtaining employment as a sexual offender prior to his arrest.
Assistant District Attorney Shana Messinger prosecuted.

 

7/22/2021
GNA school director waives preliminary hearing on secret recordings
Times Leader

 

A school board member at Greater Nanticoke Area accused of secretly recording a woman who lived inside his Nanticoke residence waived his right to a preliminary hearing in Luzerne County Central Court on Wednesday.
Matthew Joseph Landmesser, 42, of E. Union St., waived a single count of invasion of privacy to county court, where he is expected to plead guilty to the second-degree misdemeanor charge.
Police withdrew two other counts of invasion of privacy and a single count of intercept communications against Landmesser.
Police allege Landmesser allowed a woman to stay at his residence, where she discovered three cameras.
Footage shows Landmesser smelling the woman’s clothes, trying on one of her bras and masturbating on a couch with the woman’s clothes and blanket, court records say.
Landmesser’s next court appearance is scheduled on Aug. 30 for a dispositional hearing before President Judge Michael T. Vough. 

 

7/9/2021
Former treasurer gets jail for fire department thefts 
James Halpin – Citizens Voice


WILKES-BARRE — The former treasurer of the Honey Pot Volunteer Hose Company was sentenced Thursday to serve up to 23 months in the Luzerne County Correctional Facility.
Daniel E. Wozniak, 47, of Nanticoke, was accused of draining the department’s accounts to fund a casino gambling habit.
In March, Wozniak pleaded guilty to felony counts of theft in exchange for prosecutors withdrawing additional charges against him.
Luzerne County President Judge Michael T. Vough imposed the sentence Thursday, ordering Wozniak to serve three to 23 months in the county jail followed by seven years of probation.
Prosecutors said the Honey Pot Club was licensed to serve drinks and provide small games of chance for fundraising before it lost its liquor and gaming licenses for failing to pay its bills.
When club leaders began looking into the finances, they discovered more than $50,000 was missing from its Citizens Bank account and that its checking account had a negative balance, prosecutors said. The theft was reported in February 2019.
Prosecutors said Wozniak, who was the only person with access to the accounts, admitted to his wife that he had stolen money from the club to gamble and that he continued gambling in casinos to recoup the money he lost.
He led his family to believe he was continuing to work when in fact he quit his job in August 2018, prosecutors said.
During questioning by police, Wozniak said he had been skimming cash from the bar revenue as well as from bingo proceeds until the checking and savings accounts had been drained, prosecutors said.
Wozniak also admitted he continued stealing and simply stopped paying the utility bills, falsifying records so the books showed money in the bank, prosecutors said.
In court Thursday, Assistant District Attorney Jill Sosnoski urged the judge to impose a sentence in the standard range.
Defense attorney Brian Corcoran indicated Wozniak wanted to apply for the Intermediate Punishment Program, noting he relies on Social Security Disability Insurance for income.
Vough, however, refused to place Wozniak in a probationary program.
“IPP is not appropriate in this case,” Vough said.
Wozniak has been free on bail since April 2020 and received one day credit for time served.
He declined to comment as sheriff’s deputies escorted him in handcuffs from the courthouse.

 

6/29/2021
Spudis trial once again pushed off; now to start in January
pkernan@timesleader.com


WILKES-BARRE — Anthony Spudis had been set to go to trial this August for the stabbing death of Gertrude Price, 97, but his trial has once again been given a lengthy continuance.
Spudis, 38, is facing an open count of criminal homicide. He is accused of breaking into the the Nanticoke home of Price on Thanksgiving in 2013. According to police, Spudis stabbed Price several times in the head in an altercation that police say originally began as a burglary.
Spudis has been locked up since he was arrested in December 2017, with his trial having been postponed several times since then.
As of Monday, it’s been continued once more.
The decision came during a motions hearing before Luzerne County Judge Tina Polachek Gartley. During the hearing, Spudis’ attorney, Robert Saurman, said the defense simply would not be ready for the August trial.
According to Saurman, the ongoing pandemic continues to pose problems for the defense, most notably with the defense’s private investigator, who was largely unable to meet face-to-face with potential witnesses for months.
Additionally, Saurman said an upcoming additional motions hearing, scheduled for July 8, deals largely with what DNA evidence the defense is entitled to in the discovery process, and that that could affect strategies.
Deputy District Attorney Daniel Zola objected to Saurman’s motion for continuance, saying that he was confident that Saurman’s concerns could be overcome without postponing the trial.
But Gartley ultimately sided with the defense, citing both Saurman’s concerns and the ways in which those concerns could affect calling jurors, since notices to potential jurors would be going out in the coming days.
Gartley also said that this trial is almost certain to be the longest period of jury service to occur in the county since the beginning of the pandemic — with prosecutors pursuing the death penalty and all the things that come with that, it’s likely that the jurors selected will spend more than a month in jury service, from the beginning of selection to the end of the penalty phase.
Gartley now set Spudis’ trial to begin in the first week of January next year, adding that there would be no further continuances.
Spudis’ next motion hearing is scheduled for next week.

 

6/22/2021
Hanover Township police charge Nanticoke man for Lee Park stabbing
elewis@timesleader.com


HANOVER TWP. — Township police say they charged a Nanticoke man with stabbing another person on Lee Park Avenue last week.
Nicholas Suprum, 20, last known address as West Green Street, is facing charges of aggravated assault, simple assault, reckless endangerment, harassment, disorderly conduct, public drunkenness and underage consumption of alcohol, police said.
Suprum has not been arraigned on the charges as of Tuesday morning.
Last week, township police Chief Al Walker said the incident was a domestic dispute at a residence in Lee Park resulting in the assault outside a store on June 15. The victim, whose name was not released, was treated for several lacerations.
Police said Suprum was recently jailed at the Luzerne County Correctional Facility for lack of $150,000 bail on a separate incident.
The separate incident involves allegations from Suprum’s ex-girlfriend on May 29 claiming he sent her several text messages threatening to kill her and repeatedly contacted her in violation of a protection-from abuse order. Suprum’s ex-girlfriend resides in the Lee Park area.
Court records say Suprum was arrested by police in February 2019 after he assaulted his ex-girlfriend in an incident captured by a surveillance camera on Woodbury Street in Lee Park.
Footage showed Suprum grabbing he girl, throwing her to the ground and dragging her away only to show the girl running and being chased by Suprum, court records say.
Suprum pleaded guilty to simple assault and was sentenced Oct. 25, 2019, by President Judge Michael T. Vough to one-month to 23 months served at the county correctional facility. Prosecutors withdrew several charges against Suprum in a plea deal.
Suprum was also sentenced to six months in jail on two PFA violations involving his ex-girlfriend in 2019, court records say.
In an unrelated case, Nanticoke police charged Suprum with fighting Robert Dixon III, 33, and Rayla Welch, 32, on South Market Street on April 8. Suprum suffered a stab wound to his leg, court records say.
Dixon and Welch are also facing charges related to the fight.

 

6/21/2021
Two men charged with stealing tow truck
elewis@timesleader.com


WILKES-BARRE — An Ayers flat bed tow truck was stolen for a $3 ride, according to court records.
City police allege James Moore, 38, jumped in the driver seat of the tow truck parked outside the Turkey Hill store on Wilkes-Barre Boulevard and drove away on Sunday with Anthony Mattero, 66, riding shotgun.
Moore, of Scott Street, Wilkes-Barre, and Mattero, of Enterprise Street, Nanticoke, were each charged with robbery of a vehicle, theft, receiving stolen property and criminal conspiracy to commit theft. They were arraigned by District Judge Alexandra Kokura Kravitz in Pittston and each released on $25,000 unsecured bail.
According to the criminal complaints:
The operator of the tow truck from Ayers Towing Service Inc., of Mountain Top, told police he was dispatched to jump start a vehicle at the store at approximately 11:28 a.m.
After the operator arrived and worked on the vehicle, he observed his company tow truck, a 2017 Ford F650, speeding out of the parking lot.
A witness told police two men climbed into and out of tow truck rummaging through the interior each time they entered.
Within 10 minutes of the tow truck being stolen, officers spotted the tow truck traveling north on North River Street.
Police in the complaints say Moore was operating the tow truck and turned onto Courtright Street where he stopped.
Moore told police Mattero paid him $3 to give him a ride, the complaints say.

 

6/7/2021
Nanticoke man sentenced for setting house on fire 
elewis@timesleader.com 

 

WILKES-BARRE — A Nanticoke man apologized Monday for igniting a fire that destroyed a Dorrance Township home in 2019.
Randy Joseph Yost, 34, was sentenced by Luzerne County Judge David W. Lupas to two years, three months to six years in state prison on charges of arson and failure to control a fire. He pleaded guilty to the charges March 16.
State police in court records say a surveillance camera recorded Yost setting fire and taking pictures using leaves and yard debris next to 328 Sunset Dr. on Nov. 30, 2019. Yost stoked the flames that ignited the house, which was destroyed in the blaze.
Diana Rollar, who owned the home, previously testified in court that the fire has caused her to suffer anxiety and other health issues, including losing family possessions.
Rollar did not attend Monday’s hearing.
“To the family, I’m sorry. I was not in the right state of mind. I feel really bad about it,” Yost said before Lupas imposed the sentence. Yost was given credit for 555 days time served at the county correctional facility.
Yost’s sentencing hearing was delayed as his attorney, Charles G. Ross Jr., challenged restitution.
Assistant District Attorney Carl Frank introduced evidence from Erie Insurance showing Rollar’s insurance policy had a $260,000 limit on the dwelling and $195,000 for loss of personal possessions. The insurance company also paid nearly $20,963.33 to provide housing for Rollar after the blaze.
Despite the insurance policy caps on coverage, the loss of the house was $320,000 and personal possessions was calculated at $248,000.
Lupas ordered Yost to pay $475,963.33 in restitution. 

 

6/3/2021
Woman charged with delivering prescription drugs to SCI-Dallas officer
elewis@timesleader.com


NANTICOKE — State police at Wilkes-Barre charged a Nanticoke woman with delivering controlled substances to a correctional officer who collapsed while working at the State Correctional Institution at Dallas, Jackson Township, last year.
Nicole Megan Hagenbach, 33, of East Noble Street, delivered Percocet and Adderall pills to Robert Bath at the main gate at SCI-Dallas on July 24, 2020, according to court records.
Bath collapsed while working at the prison about one hour after meeting with Hagenbach, court records say.
Bath was found dead inside his residence on July 27, 2020, with evidence of drug use near his body.
State police allege surveillance cameras recorded Hagenbach meeting with Bath, including bank documents showing Bath had transferred more than $20,790 to Hagenbach from Jan. 1 to July 26, 2020.
Investigators also uncovered text messages between Hagenbach and Bath that referred to the delivery of prescription pills.
According to the criminal complaint:
Hagenbach and her infant daughter were observed meeting with Bath at the prison’s front gate at about 5:30 p.m. July 24, 2020. Bath was employed as a sergeant at the prison.
About 70 minutes after Hagenbach left, Bath collapsed while working and was transported to Geisinger Wyoming Valley Medical Center where he was given NARCAN. When Bath regained consciousness, he refused further treatment and was given a ride home by a co-worker.
Bath failed to show up for work from July 25 to July 27. A prison lieutenant and a deputy warden went to Bath’s residence finding him dead on July 27.
Investigators say they found a mirror with a white powdery substance, a red straw, bags with white residue, a drug pipe and two Oxycontin pills in the same room when Bath was found. Two cell phones and a bank statement were also recovered from the residence.
The bank statement showed 54 transactions of Bath transferring a total of $20,793 to Hagenbach, the complaint says.
Text messages showed Bath and Hagenbach were engaged in discussing quantities, dosages, prices and delivery times on July 24, according to the complaint.
During an interview with investigators, Hagenbach admitted she delivered Percocets and Adderall to Bath while he was working at the prison.
Hagenbach was arraigned Wednesday by District Judge Brian James Tupper in Kingston Township on charges of possession with intent to deliver a controlled substance, possession of a controlled substance, possession of contraband and endangering the welfare of children. She was released on $25,000 unsecured bail.

5/25/2021
Invasion of privacy charges dismissed against school board member
elewis@timesleader.com


A district judge Monday dismissed charges of invasion of privacy against a Greater Nanticoke Area school director when the investigating officer failed to appear for a court proceeding.
Matthew Joseph Landmesser, 42, of 400 E. Union St., Nanticoke, was charged April 5 after a woman claimed she found hidden cameras that recorded her daily activities in her bedroom, including being nude while changing clothes, according to court records.
Police in court records say the woman was permitted by Landmesser to stay at his residence when she discovered the cameras.
Footage shows Landmesser smelling the woman’s clothes, trying on one of her bras and masturbating on a couch with the woman’s clothes and blanket, court records say.
At Landmesser’s preliminary hearing in Luzerne County Court, a district judge dismissed three counts of invasion of privacy and a single count of intercept communications when the investigating officer failed to appear for the proceeding.
Police have the option to refile the charges against Landmesser.
Landmesser was represented by Attorney Mark W. Bufalino.

 

5/6/2021
Police: Nanticoke man sent lewd images, texts to minor
kcarroll@timesleader.com


LARKSVILLE — Detectives from the Luzerne County District Attorney’s office arrested a man Wednesday after he admitted to sending multiple lewd pictures and text messages to a minor.
Richard Bonk, 45, of Nanticoke was taken into custody after detectives from Luzerne County, along with the state police Northeast Computer Crime Unit, the Internet Crimes against Children Task Force and officers from the Nanticoke City and Larksville Borough police departments executed a search warrant on his Nanticoke residence on Wednesday.
Bonk was charged with felony counts of unlawful contact with a minor and criminal use of a communications facility, along with a misdemeanor charge of corruption of minors.
According to the criminal complaint:
The Larksville Borough Police Department responded to a home on March 22 for a sex offense call.
Officers on scene came in contact with the complainant, who said that her 11-year-old granddaughter had been receiving lewd images from a man whom she identified as Bonk.
The grandmother told officers that she observed the images on her granddaughter’s phone, and that they included an image of a nude female tied to a bed.
The phone was released to police by the grandmother, and multiple messages were found to be exchanged between the youth and Bonk, including multiple images of naked women taken from magazines and the internet.
Bonk also told the youth that he “loves her” and that he “can’t wait to see her and spend more time with her again,” investigators said.
Investigators received the forensic extraction of the messages taken from the youth’s phone on Tuesday. The mobile number sending the lewd images was verified by investigators to belong to Bonk.
The conversation between Bonk and the youth was found to be explicit in nature, with Bonk describing through images and messages various sex acts he wished to perform with the girl.
On Wednesday, officers made contact with Bonk while executing a search warrant at his home on South Prospect Street in Nanticoke.
According to the complaint, Bonk said upon the officers’ arrival that he knew why they were there. Bonk admitted to investigators that he may have accidentally sent the girl nude images of adult females over text.
After being read his rights, Bonk was interviewed further by investigators, at which point he told them that he was aware of the girl’s age.
When read the transcripts of the text messages taken from the youth’s phone, Bonk admitted to sending the explicit texts, saying that it was “role playing” and that he was typically under the influence of alcohol or prescription medication while texting the girl.
Bonk chalked up the whole situation as “a mistake.”
He was arraigned in front of Magisterial District Judge David on Wednesday afternoon, and was lodged at the Luzerne County Correctional Facility for failure to post $150,000 in bail.
A preliminary hearing is scheduled for May 19.

5/4/2021
Nanticoke man charged with weapons of mass destruction
elewis@timesleader.com


A man arrested after city police investigated a disturbance allegedly coughed on officers saying he has COVID, according to court records.
Alberto Luis Flores, 34, of West Union Street, was charged with bomb threats with the underlying premise of weapons of mass destruction after he claimed he has COVID-19 and coughed on officers and staff at Wilkes-Barre General Hospital.
It is the second time authorities in Luzerne County has charged a defendant with weapons of mass destruction during the start of the coronavirus pandemic.
Margaret Ann Cirko, 36, of Hanover Township, was charged March 25, 2020, when she allegedly spat and coughed on food items inside Gerrity’s Market, Sans Souci Parkway, Hanover Township, while yelling “I have the virus, you’re all going to get sick,” court records say.
Cirko’s case remains open in Luzerne County Court.
According to the criminal complaint filed against Flores:
Police responded to a disturbance on West Union Street and found Flores standing in a neighbor’s yard at about 10:30 a.m. Friday.
A woman told officers Flores wanted her out of her residence and smashed windows. She also claimed Flores struck her with a child booster seat and wiped blood on an infant to accuse her of injuring the baby, the complaint says.
Police said Flores was placed in a cruiser where he allegedly kicked and damaged a door. Flores got out of the cruiser and had to be pushed back inside by an officer.
Flores was transported to Wilkes-Barre General Hospital where he intentionally coughed towards officers and hospital staff while yelling, “He has COVID,” the complaint says.
Flores was arraigned by District Judge Donald Whittaker in Nanticoke on charges of bomb threats, institutional vandalism, resisting arrest, disorderly conduct and terroristic threats. He was jailed at the Luzerne County Correctional Facility for lack of $100,000 bail.

 

5/1/2021
Nanticoke man charged with child sex offenses
Edward Lewis -  Times Leader


EXETER — Borough police charged a man from Nanticoke with inappropriately touching a girl.
Joshua S. Fromel, 33, of Kosciuszko Street, was charged with indecent assault and corruption of minors after the girl claimed he “tickled” her, according to court records.
Fromel was arraigned by District Judge Joseph Carmody in West Pittston and released on $25,000 unsecured bail.
Police in court records say the girl was questioned by a forensic interviewer at the Luzerne County Children’s Advocacy Center in Wilkes-Barre.
During the interview, the girl said Fromel touched her over her clothes and tickled her private area, court records say.
She told the interviewer the alleged incidents occurred when her grandmother was cooking or in a bathroom.
Police said Fromel declined to be questioned about the alleged incident. 

 

4/17/2021
Nanticoke man sentenced 10 years for drug trafficking
Edward Lewis – Times Leader


SCRANTON — A Nanticoke man who dealt more than one kilogram of heroin, equivalent to 40,000 individual doses, was sentenced in U.S. District Court on Friday.
Edirso De Leon Frias, 29, was sentenced to 10 years in federal prison by U.S. District Court Judge Robert D. Mariani on charges of conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent more than one kilogram of heroin and more than 500 grams of cocaine.
According to Acting U.S. Attorney Bruce D. Brandler, De Leon Frias pled guilty to being an organizer of a drug trafficking organization operating in and around Luzerne County. De Leon Frias was responsible, Brandler stated, for distributing illegal narcotics and possession of a firearm during the commission of drug sales.
Fourteen other defendants have previously been sentenced on charges arising from the investigation.
Most notably, Jose Ramon de Leon Pineda was sentenced to 188 months and Juan Roman Planco was sentenced to 151 months for their roles in the drug trafficking organization.

 

4/17/2021
Nanticoke man sentenced to 10 years imprisonment for drug trafficking 
SCRANTON, LACKAWANNA COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU-TV)

A Nanticoke man will be spending 10 years behind bars after being convicted on drug trafficking charges.
Edirso De Leon Frias, 29, pled guilty to being an organizer of a drug trafficking organization operating in and around Luzerne County, Acting United States Attorney Bruce Brandler said. According to Brandler, De Leon Frias was responsible for more than one kilogram of heroin and more than 500 grams of cocaine, equaling more than 40,000 individual doses. 
The case was investigated as part of Project Safe Neighborhoods. This particular investigation also resulted in the conviction of Juan Roman Polanco who was sentenced to 151 months’ imprisonment. 
Brandler said both men were leaders in drug trafficking conspiracies and possessed firearms during the course of those conspiracies. 

 

4/6/2021
Greater Nanticoke Area board member charged with invasion of privacy
elewis@timesleader.com


A Greater Nanticoke Area school director is facing charges alleging he placed hidden cameras in a bedroom of his home that recorded a woman he allowed to stay with him.
Matthew Joseph Landmesser, 42, of 400 E. Union St., Nanticoke, was charged with three counts of invasion of privacy and a single count of intercept communications. He was arraigned by District Judge Joseph Halesey in Hanover Township and released on $25,000 unsecured bail.
Nanticoke police in court records say Landmesser installed hidden cameras that recorded the woman going about her daily activities in her bedroom with footage of her nude while changing clothes.
Footage also shows Landmesser smelling the woman’s clothes, trying on one of her bras and masturbating on a couch with the woman’s clothes and blanket, court records say.
According to the criminal complaint:
A woman reported to police Landmesser allowed her to stay with him for three years describing their relationship as friends. She claimed Landmesser to be her Godfather who dated her mother.
She told police she discovered three hidden cameras in a living room she used as a bedroom while her normal bedroom was being renovated.
Cameras were positioned toward a couch where the woman slept, the complaint says.
After finding the cameras, she uncovered video clips of herself in the bedroom recording of her day-to-day living including being nude while changing clothes.
Footage shows Landmesser setting up the cameras including a video file labeled with a sexual reference.
Police said the cameras contained memory cards and were no larger than a cigarette package. Cameras had to be recharged on a regular basis similar to a cellphone. Two cameras did not record audio while a third camera recorded audio, police noted.
The camera with the audio recorded Landmesser using the woman’s name while he masturbated with her clothes on the couch, the complaint says.
Contents of the memory cards, the complaint says, shows Landmesser smelling the woman’s clothes and trying on one of her bras.
Police said the woman was not aware she was being recorded and did not give consent to be audio and video recorded. 
When the woman confronted Landmesser, he apologized for recording her and said he “messed up,” the complaint says.
Police on Jan. 28 served a search warrant at Landmesser’s residence and seized a computer.
During a search of the computer’s contents, police allegedly recovered a document Landmesser wrote to the woman about five years ago. The letter professes Landmesser’s love for the woman and made reference to when he met her when she was in the sixth grade as her case manager.
At the time Landmesser wrote the letter, he worked for a counseling service, police noted.
Landmesser wrote in the letter how jealous he was about the woman’s other relationships and expressed his emotions about her lack of interest in his attempts to hug and kiss her, the complaint says.

 

4/6/2021
Police: GNA board member secretly recorded nude woman 
James Halpin – Citizens Voice


A Greater Nanticoke Area School District board member set up cameras and secretly recorded nude images of a woman he’d become enamored with after meeting her during counseling sessions when she was in the sixth grade, police said.
Matthew Joseph Landmesser, 42, was charged Monday with a felony count of intercepting communications and three misdemeanor counts of invasion of privacy.
Police said Landmesser met the woman when she was in the sixth grade. He worked at a counseling service and was her case worker, the charges said.
For the past three years, the woman has been living at Landmesser’s home at 400 E. Union St., although she described their relationship as only friendly, according to the complaint.
In January, the woman reported she found three cameras inside the home. Two were in the living room where she slept and contained images of her daily activities, including changing clothes, police said.
Investigators said the Brickhouse Security cameras weren’t exactly hidden, but were designed to not appear to be recording devices to the untrained eye.
Police reviewing the footage found images of the woman naked as well as images of Landmesser smelling her clothing, trying on one of her bras and “having sex on her couch with her clothes and blankets,” the complaint alleges.
Footage also showed Landmesser unsuccessfully attempting to set up the camera above the toilet in a bathroom, police said.
During a search of the home, police found a computer containing a letter that “professes Landmesser’s love” for the victim, the complaint said.
Landmesser referred to “them” trying to separate the two of them and lamented the victim’s lack of interest in his “physical attempts to show his feelings” by hugging and kissing, police said.
The letter, which referenced the victim attending a semi-formal dance on the date of authorship, also said Landmesser did not want to go on living if he didn’t have the victim in his life, according to the complaint.
Police said that when the victim confronted Landmesser, he apologized for recording her and said he “messed up” his entire life by setting up the cameras.
Magisterial District Judge Joseph A. Halesey arraigned Landmesser on the charges Monday afternoon and released him on $25,000 unsecured bail.
A preliminary hearing was set for April 21.

 

3/30/2021
Nanticoke man faces drug charges after traffic stop
kcarroll@timesleader.com


PLAINS TWP. — One man was arrested on felony drug charges after a traffic stop initiated Friday morning resulted in the discovery of fentanyl, crack cocaine and other illegal substances, state police said.
James Michael Hughes, 32, of Nanticoke was taken into custody just after 11 a.m. on Friday after he was pulled over by a state trooper.
According to the criminal complaint:
The stop was made by state police on East Main Street in Plains Township after a search was run concerning the registration number displayed on the vehicle, a Buick sedan. Officers learned that the number displayed on the vehicle was actually a registration number belonging to a Lincoln sedan.
Troopers identified the driver of the vehicle as Hughes via his Pennsylvania ID card. Hughes was later discovered to have a suspended driver’s license.
Hughes consented to a search of the vehicle, at which point troopers were able to locate five clear plastic bags containing suspected fentanyl, one small bag with suspected crack cocaine, one bag containing suspected marijuana and 84 suspected MDMA tablets.
In addition to the drugs, officers also seized a .44 caliber revolver and a 12-gauge semi-automatic shotgun from the vehicle.
According to the complaint, Hughes displayed visible signs of impairment and told troopers on scene that he had used heroin earlier in the day.
Hughes was taken into custody, and arraigned later Friday in front of Magisterial District Judge Michael G. Dotzel.
He was formally charged with three felony counts of possession of a controlled substance with intent to deliver, as well as multiple misdemeanor offenses including intentional possession of a controlled substance, DUI: controlled substance and use of drug paraphernalia.
Hughes was lodged at the Luzerne County Correctional Facility for failure to post $50,000 in bail, and a preliminary hearing is scheduled for April 7.

 

3/23/2021
Nanticoke police charge nurse with assaulting patient at nursing home
elewis@timesleader.com


City police charged a nurse at Birchwood Healthcare and Rehabilitation Center with striking an elderly patient with a phone and pouring soda on her clothes.
Carmen Michelle Alaofin, 53, address listed as a hotel on Elmira Street, Sayre, was immediately removed from the facility on Middle Road after the alleged incident on Jan. 19, according to court records.
Police said the victim, a woman recovering from a stroke, sustained a head injury near her eye. Her husband, also a patient in the same room, allegedly witnessed the incident.
According to the criminal complaint:
A son to the couple called police after being notified by a Birchwood nursing supervisor of his mother’s claims of being assaulted by a nurse. The son told police the supervisor suggested they handle the incident in-house but police said the supervisor later filed a report with them.
Police said during an interview with the woman, she reported the incident began with a verbal argument with Alaofin.
She claimed her husband returned to Birchwood after a stay at a hospital and Alaofin was placing her husband’s items on her table and drawers. She told police she advised Alaofin she was placing everything in the wrong place and mixing up her husband’s items with her items.
Police in the complaint said the woman reported Alaofin yelled, “Ok, what are you going to do? I’m not going to be treated like a dog.”
The woman claimed Alaofin became enraged and struck her head several times with a landline phone above her right eye. She also claimed Alaofin pulled down her face mask and spat in her face, and bent her left thumb and left index finger, the complaint says.
During the alleged assault, the woman’s husband yelled at Alaofin to stop.
Alaofin allegedly poured cups of soda over her nightgown and pulled the landline phone from the wall before leaving the room.
A nurse aide was inside the room and filled out a report alleging Alaofin was verbally aggressive toward the woman.
Police said the woman was transported to a hospital for injuries above her right eye and a sprain to her left hand.
The landline phone used in the alleged assault was cracked on its sides and front.
Police said Alaofin failed to appear for a scheduled interview with the investigating detective.
Alaofin was charged with neglect of care of a dependent person, simple assault, reckless endangerment and strikes, shoves, kicks or attempts to threaten a dependent person. The charges were filed Monday with District Judge Donald Whittaker in Nanticoke and mailed to Alaofin.
A preliminary hearing is scheduled May 5 in Luzerne County Central Court.

 

3/23/2021
Suspect wanted on domestic assault offenses captured by Wilkes-Barre police

elewis@timesleader.com


A man wanted on allegations he assaulted an ex-girlfriend and stole her vehicle in Nanticoke was captured by city police Sunday.
Corey James Kittle, 27, last known address as South Hanover Street, Nanticoke, was punched in the face several times by a city officer during a struggle behind a residence on West Chestnut Street, Wilkes-Barre, according to court records.
Kittle was fighting with the officer as he attempted to elude capture during a foot chase, court records say.
According to the criminal complaint by Wilkes-Barre police:
Officers responded to Sycamore Street on reports of a suspicious man, identified as Kittle, parking a vehicle at about 1:12 p.m. An officer arrived at the scene and noticed a registration plate on a vehicle Kittle parked belonged to another vehicle.
The officer was advised Kittle was wanted by Nanticoke police.
Kittle fled on foot when he spotted a city officer approaching him.
Police in the criminal complaint say Kittle ran on West Chestnut Street and behind a residence where he was unable to scale a fence. Kittle charged at an officer and initiated a struggle, grabbing the officer’s bullet proof vest attempting to pull the officer to the ground.
The officer punched Kittle in the face several times during the struggle before he was able to be handcuffed after other officers arrived to assist, the complaint says.
Police allege they found marijuana, marijuana gummies and an envelope containing a crystal like substance on Kittle.
Nanticoke police obtained an arrest warrant for Kittle Feb. 23 after he allegedly kicked open a rear door of a residence on East Church Street, Nanticoke, and assaulted an ex-girlfriend on Feb. 22.
Nanticoke police in court records say Kittle entered the woman’s house and strangled her while he accused of her cheating on him. Kittle left the residence stealing the woman’s car when he found out she called 911, court records say.
After Nanticoke police left the scene, Kittle allegedly returned to the woman’s residence, kicked in a rear door and assaulted her before fleeing in the woman’s vehicle.

 

3/22/2021
DA’s Office: Bail bondsman’s shooting of Nanticoke man ruled justified
pkernan@timesleader.com

 

A bail bondsman who shot and killed a Nanticoke man while attempting to take him into custody was justified in his actions, according to a late Monday afternoon press release from the Luzerne County District Attorney’s Office.
Thomas Worthy Painter, 26, was shot and killed on Feb. 18 when a bail bondsman went to a Fairview Drive residence ahead of a bail revocation hearing that week.
The release from the District Attorney’s Office, which does not identify the bail bondsman, sheds light on what they say was the chain of events leading up to Painter’s death.
According to the release, Painter’s bail bondsman obtained a court order, issued by Luzerne County President Judge Michael T. Vough, to take him into custody on three separate outstanding criminal cases. As part of the bail process, Painter and his family members had previously signed consent forms to search his residence and take him into custody in the event of a violation of the terms of bail.
When the bondsman arrived at the home, he was allowed in by a member of Painter’s family. As he approached Painter, he was allegedly attempting to inject an unspecified controlled substance, and asked the bondsman to allow it before Painter was taken into custody.
When the bondsman refused, Painter apparently leapt over a chair at the bondsman, causing the bondsman to deploy his Taser.
Painter got up and grabbed a rifle, pressing it into the bondsman’s chest, pushing him backward.
The release says the bondsman attempted to reason with Painter while being pushed backwards, ultimately drawing his own firearm and discharging a round into Painter’s abdomen. The bondsman then called 911.
Painter was taken to a local hospital, where he later died from his injuries.
The release says another witness at the scene corroborated the bondsman’s version of events.
After an investigation from Nanticoke Police Department and county detectives, along with the Newport Township Police and Pennsylvania State Police, the bail bondsman’s actions were determined to be justified.
Court records show Painter had been on bail on several open criminal cases.
Painter was recently arrested by police in Plymouth, Wilkes-Barre Township and Hanover Township. State police troopers with the Gaming Enforcement Bureau at Mohegan Sun Casino in Plains Township filed drug possession charges against Painter on Dec. 28.
According to court records, Plymouth police charged Painter with initiating a pursuit that involved a crash at West Main and Washington streets on Aug. 18. Painter attempted to escape custody by swimming across the Susquehanna River where he was arrested by Hanover Township police.
Painter was also charged out of Wilkes-Barre Township after he allegedly initiated a pursuit and crashed into two occupied vehicles before crashing into a support pole near Big Lots on Nov. 16. A loaded handgun was found in the car, along with nearly 4 grams of meth on his person.
Painter also had charges from the Luzerne County Drug Task Force for allegedly selling heroin and fentanyl on Sept. 24.

 

3/17/2021
Child porn convict faces assault charges
kcarroll@timesleader.com
Police: Former Nanticoke resident abused minor in his home

 

A man currently incarcerated in state prison on child pornography charges is now facing indecent sexual assault charges after detectives say he assaulted a minor in his home on numerous occasions.
Jayson Montanez, 34, formerly of Nanticoke but currently serving time at State Correctional Institute Houtzdale, now faces an additional eight felony charges, including involuntary deviate sexual intercourse with a child, stemming from an incident that was reported to investigators back in 2014.
According to the criminal complaint:
On July 5, 2014, the Nanticoke City Police Department received a phone call from a woman from New York State who said one of her children told the woman that Montanez had shown the child his genitals during visits, and made the child touch them.
Officers advised her to file a report with her local police department, and also requested to interview the children.
A deputy from the Sullivan County, N.Y. Sheriff’s Department reported that he had interviewed the children the following day, on July 6. The report was forwarded to Nanticoke City police, and arrangements were made to have the children interviewed at the Children’s Advocacy Center of NEPA.
During the interview, the child that had initially told her mother about Montanez’s abuse was able to identify where Montanez had touched her using a doll, and couldn’t put a number on how many times the abuse had occurred, only telling the deputy that it had happened “a lot.”
The interview with the Children’s Advocacy Center took place on July 9, 2014, with investigators from Nanticoke City present. The child’s answers were consistent with what she told the Sullivan County deputy in terms of the specific details of abuse.
The lead investigator on the case from Nanticoke passed away in 2016, at which point jurisdiction was transferred to the Luzerne County District Attorney’s Office.
Luzerne County detectives interviewed the victim again in February of this year, and the victim’s story matched what they told investigators back in 2014.
Montanez has had a history of indecent behavior involving minors: he had been previously charged with multiple felony child abuse charges in 2014 before they were dismissed by an appellate court ruling last year, and is currently incarcerated on charges filed in 2017 that he possessed child pornography on his cell phone.
The new charges against Montanez were filed last Tuesday, and include two counts of indeviate sexual intercourse with a child, two counts of aggravated indecent assault of a child, two counts of indecent assault of a person less than 13 years old, and one count of corruption of minors.
A preliminary hearing is scheduled for April 9.

3/16/2021
Judge rejects petition for records in police shooting lawsuit
Eric Mark – Citizens Voice


A Luzerne County judge on Monday dismissed a petition filed by attorney Barry Dyller, who wanted the district attorney's office to turn over records of its investigation into the fatal police shooting of Jordan Oliver of Nanticoke in December 2019.
The office did not retain any records after it cleared the officers of criminal wrongdoing, since that meant no criminal charges would be filed, First Assistant District Attorney Sam Sanguedolce said.
The district attorney's office ruled that police were justified when they shot and killed Oliver, who was 20 when he died, in a wooded area near Warrior Run on Dec. 1, 2019.
Oliver had stolen a police cruiser, threatened to shoot police officers, and was armed and using his 15-year-old ex-girlfriend as a human shield when state troopers shot him after he refused commands to surrender, the district attorney's office said in a report filed Dec. 13, 2019.
Dyller is representing Oliver's family in a wrongful death suit against State Police Cpl. Jason Rasmus.
On Monday, Dyller and Sanguedolce appeared before county Judge Richard M. Hughes III regarding Dyller's request that the district attorney's office turn over all records of its investigation into Oliver's death.
"We did not retain that information," Sanguedolce told Hughes. "At this point we don't have the information he is looking for."
Dyller said he cannot ask the district attorney's office to provide information it doesn't have.
However, he said he found it remarkable that the office "simply destroyed the evidence."
Sanguedolce objected to that description of what happened. He said the office had no need to retain the records once its investigation was completed, with no charges recommended.
At Dyller's request, Hughes dismissed the petition without prejudice, meaning Dyller would be allowed to make a similar request later if he uncovers evidence that records of the investigation exist.
In a phone interview after the hearing, Dyller said he found it strange that multiple officers shot Oliver while he was allegedly using a teenage girl as a human shield.
"It just does not ring true," he said.

 

3/11/2021
Nanticoke man facing charges in Duryea, Scranton for wrecking stolen vehicle
elewis@timesleader.com


DURYEA — A Nanticoke man was charged by Duryea police on allegations he crashed a stolen vehicle and took off on foot to avoid capture.
Police in court records say Fawn Workman, 25, crashed a Honda into two occupied vehicles on Main Street and abandoned the wrecked vehicle in the middle of the street. The alleged incident happened Saturday.
Police said the Honda was reported stolen to Scranton police 15 to 20 minutes prior to the crash, court records say.
A credit card with Workman’s name was found inside the stolen vehicle.
A woman driving another Honda told police she was driving on Main Street when her vehicle was struck, noting the driver fled on foot. Prior to the crash when Workman abandoned the vehicle, another woman told police her vehicle was struck on Main Street.
Police said the second woman was transported to a local hospital.
In an unrelated case, according to court records, Workman is serving a one-year probation sentence imposed by Luzerne County Judge Joseph F. Sklarosky Jr. on Oct. 15, stemming from an incident with Wilkes-Barre police on July 9.
In that case, Workman entered a woman’s vehicle, ordered her to drop him off at the Intermodal Bus Terminal, which he told her to pass when he saw officers, court records say.
After the woman called police, officers say Workman took off and was found hiding on Sambourne and Wood streets. Marijuana, methamphetamine and a syringe were found inside Workman’s backpack, city police said in court records.
Workman was sentenced to probation after he pleaded guilty to flight to avoid apprehension, possession of a controlled substance, possession of a small amount of marijuana and criminal mischief related to the Wilkes-Barre case.
Duryea police charged Workman with flight to avoid apprehension, receiving stolen property, accidents involving injury, accidents involving damage to attended vehicle, abandoning vehicle on roadway and multiple other offenses. He was arraigned by District Judge Thomas F. Malloy Sr. in Wilkes-Barre and jailed at the Luzerne County Correctional Facility for lack of $15,000 bail.
Scranton police charged Workman with robbery of a vehicle, theft and receiving stolen property.

 

3/9/2021
Nanticoke man sentenced to 8 years on federal drug trafficking charge
Edward Lewis – Times Leader


A Nanticoke man was sentenced to spend 8 years in a federal prison on charges he distributed fentanyl.
Vincent Carter, 36, was sentenced Thursday by U.S. District Court Judge Malachy E. Mannion.
According to Acting U.S. Attorney Bruce D. Brandler, Carter was accused of distributing fentanyl on multiple occasions in Nanticoke in March 2019. Additional amounts of fentanyl and packaging materials were found inside his residence and vehicle, Brandler stated.
The case was investigated by police in Nanticoke and Kingston, and the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms. Assistant U.S. Attorney Geoffrey W. MacArthur prosecuted.

3/9/2021
Police: Teen crashes stolen car after early-morning pursuit 
Bob Kalinowski – Citizens Voice


A 19-year-old man with four teenage passengers led police on a miles-long pursuit early Monday in a stolen car from Wilkes-Barre to Newport Twp., where he crashed and tried to flee on foot, according to charges filed by Wilkes-Barre police.
Jose R. Calva of 214 Poplar St., Wilkes-Barre, is charged with receiving stolen property, fleeing police, flight to avoid apprehension, child endangerment and multiple traffic citations.
Magisterial District Judge Donald Whittaker arraigned Calva early Monday and ordered him jailed in the Luzerne County Correctional Facility in lieu of $250,000 cash bail.
According to the criminal complaint filed by Wilkes-Barre police officer Raul Ortiz: On patrol in South Wilkes-Barre at just before 3 a.m., Ortiz heard screeching tires near 16-18 Beekman St. and then witnessed a car exit a parking lot at a high rate of speed. Ortiz did a registration check on the vehicle’s license plate and determined the car was reported stolen out of Bloomsburg.
After a back up officer arrived, Ortiz activated his lights and sirens and tried to stop the car.
Police said Calva sped away and led officers on a pursuit through South Wilkes-Barre, ignoring stop signs and traffic lights, and sometimes going the wrong way down one-way streets.
Arrest papers say Calva led police out of Wilkes-Barre on Carey Avenue down the Sans Souci Parkway in Hanover Twp. and then onto East Main Street in Nanticoke, ignoring all traffic lights along the way.
As Salva approached Market Street in Nanticoke — the city’s main intersection — he attempted to make a left turn, but instead jumped a curb into the Burger King parking lot, police said. Police said Calva then drove through grass and jumped another curb to get back onto Main Street.
After entering Newport Twp., Calva fled on Old Newport Street for another mile and a half before crashing while trying to turn onto Center Street, police said.
Upon crashing, police said Calva escaped the car through the passenger door and fled on foot. Police say he lost his shoes while running and later was apprehended.
Police said four other teenagers — ages 14, 15, 16 and 18 — were in the car. Investigators said two of them required treatment at the hospital and they all eventually were released to their parents.

 

3/3/2021
Ratowski charged third time with child sex offense
elewis@timesleader.com


Luzerne County detectives charged an Edwardsville man for the third time on child sex offenses since late January with the latest criminal filing alleging he rubbed the buttocks of a girl.
Joseph William Ratowski, 47, of Tobin Lane, was arraigned Wednesday on two counts of indecent assault and a single count of corruption of minors.
Detectives filed the charges against Ratowski after a girl, 16, was questioned Tuesday by a forensic interviewer at the Luzerne County Children’s Advocacy Center in Wilkes-Barre.
During the interview, the girl claimed she often visited her family’s restaurant on West Ridge Street, Nanticoke, where Ratowski was employed. She described Ratowski as a friend to her family.
According to the latest criminal complaint, she observed Ratowski giving her female cousin a back massage while in the restaurant. As she was laying in a booth, Ratowski rubbed her back and massaged her buttocks, the complaint says.
Detectives in the complaint reported the girl said there were times when others were around but not paying attention or other times he would massage her buttocks in other areas of the restaurant.
Detectives allege the inappropriate massages occurred from June 2016 to June 2018.
Ratowski was arraigned by District Judge Joseph Halesey in Luzerne County Central Court. Halesey set Raowski’s bail at $250,000 on the latest charges.
The Luzerne County district attorney’s office believe there may be more victims, who are asked to call Det. Charles Balogh at 570-825-1674 or 570-706-8431.
Ratowski was initially arrested Jan. 25 and charged with seven child sex offenses alleging he sexually assaulted two girls at locations in Edwardsville and Ashley from January 1995 to January 2005. Ratowski was associated with the girls through their brother, who he coached in youth football and baseball in Edwardsville, court records say.
Ratowski was released on $75,000 unsecured bail following his first arrest.
Detectives on Feb. 22 arrested Ratowski after a girl came forward claiming he sexually assaulted her inside her Hanover Township home and while her family went camping in Wapwallopen from 1999 to 2001.
Following Ratowski’s second arrest, he was jailed for lack of $250,000 bail.

 

3/2/2021

Hunlock Creek man pleads guilty in decades-old sex abuse case
pkernan@timesleader.com


A Hunlock Creek man pleaded guilty on Monday to charges in connection with decades-old sexual assault cases, having occurred between 1980 and 1984.

Richard Garnett, 68, entered a guilty plea on two counts of involuntary deviate sexual intercourse with an individual less than 16 years old. Garnett entered the plea during a hearing before Luzerne County Judge Joseph F. Sklarosky Jr. on Monday morning.

Garnett had been accused of sexually assaulting two underage victims, now adults, in the early 1980s. The investigation into Garnett began in 2018 when a woman told state police during a separate interview that another woman known to her had been sexually abused by Garnett.

This woman, who the Times Leader is not identifying as it does not identify victims in sex crime cases, eventually told police that Garnett had assaulted her some time before she was in middle school, but was unable to confirm her specific age. She said she could not be sure how many times it happened, due to repressing much of the memory, but that it definitely happened at least once.

The investigation led to another woman who also said she had been assaulted by Garnett, taking place roughly between when she was 10 and 13. She said she came forward to Nanticoke Police when she was 14, but was never interviewed by state police.

After the guilty plea, Assistant District Attorney Angela Sperrazza argued to have Garnett’s bail revoked, but Sklarosky denied the motion, in part due to how long it has been since the assaults actually happened.

Sklarosky said the court would file an order to establish when Garnett’s sentencing hearing will occur.

 

3/2/2021
Child endangerment charges filed against mother, boyfriend
elewis@timesleader.com


A mother and her boyfriend arrested last month on allegations they neglected her 6-year-old son who was severely underweight were arraigned Tuesday on charges they endangered their other children by living in a house filled with debris and dog feces.

Luzerne County detectives discovered the residence of Natalie M. Shaffer, 26, and Zachary Michael Vincent, 30, on Pine View Estates to be unsanitary and unsafe for human habitation when they were arrested Feb. 4.

Four children were residing with Shaffer and Vincent at the residence, owned by Vincent’s grandfather, according to court records.

Shaffer and Vincent were arrested by detectives alleging they withheld food from her 6-year-old boy from January 2016 to January 2020 when the boy was placed in foster care, court records say.

Shaffer allegedly complained about her son saying she was, “Sick of taking care of this (expletive) kid,” and missed nearly 100 medical appointments.

Detectives say the boy weighed only 20 pounds when he showed up for school at Greater Nanticoke Area on Jan. 3, 2020, when authorities were notified about the boy’s condition, court records say.

When Shaffer and Vincent were arrested, detectives discovered four children, ages 8, 7, 5 and 3, residing in the residence filled with broken or dismantled furniture, debris blocking doors, dog feces and cigarette ashes covering the bathroom floor, according to court records.

The living room contained a mattress where it appeared Shaffer, Vincent and the four children slept.

Exposed wires were observed near a thermostat, and the kitchen “possessed overall filth like conditions” as furniture, tools, garbage and food littered the counters, sink and floor, court records say.

The 7-year-old was wearing a heavy urine soiled diaper when detectives arrested the couple.

Vincent’s grandfather allegedly told detectives the residence was not in disarray when he moved out in December 2020 to allow Shaffer and Vincent to reside in the home when their children were returned to their custody in early January.

Court records say Shaffer and Vincent are the natural parents of the 5-year-old and 3-year-old, and Shaffer is the biological mother of the older children.

Detectives charged Shaffer and Vincent with four counts each of endangering the welfare of children due to alleged conditions of the residence. They were arraigned in Central Court by District Judge Joseph Carmody of West Pittston.

Shaffer and Vincent were charged last month with two counts each of aggravated assault and a single count of reckless endangerment. Shaffer was further charged with a child endangerment offense.

Shaffer and Vincent remained jailed at the county correctional facility.

 

2/23/2021
Drug laced Fruity Pebbles bars, gummy bears seized in Newport Township
Edward Lewis – Times Leader


NEWPORT TWP. — A Newport Township man was arrested when drug agents served a search warrant at his Robert Street residence allegedly finding a large amount of illegal narcotics, including drug laced brownies, Fruity Pebbles bars and gummy bears.
Jamaree Henson, 38, was charged with multiple offenses after Hanover Township police along with police in Nanticoke and Newport Township and the Luzerne County Drug Task Force executed a search warrant at his residence Monday morning.
Seized from Henson’s residence were cash, fentanyl, marijuana, marijuana oil, and THC edible products of gummy bears and hears, brownies, Fruity Pebbles bars, graham bars and THC butter, according to a news release by Hanover Township police.
A digital scale, plastic bags, plastic containers and molds to make the THC butter and gummy bears were also seized.
Henson was charged with three counts of endangering the welfare of children, four counts of possession of drug paraphernalia, and two counts each of possession with intent to deliver a controlled substance and possession of a controlled substance. He was arraigned by District Judge Donald Whittaker in Nanticoke and jailed at the county correctional facility for lack of $250,000 bail.

 

2/23/2021
Police: Trespasser spat saliva striking officers
Edward Lewis – Times Leader


NANTICOKE — A woman accused by Wilkes-Barre police with refusing to leave Wilkes-Barre General Hospital where she allegedly pulled a fire alarm was arrested by Nanticoke police when she refused to leave Cocoa Hut on East Main Street.
Alannalyn Grace Reckeweg, 23, struggled with officers from Nanticoke and Newport Township when she refused to leave the store Friday night, according to court records.
During the struggle, Reckeweg attempted to knee an officer in the groin and spat saliva that struck two officers, court records say.
Reckeweg was free on $10,000 unsecured bail stemming from her arrest by Wilkes-Barre police on Thursday.
In that case, Wilkes-Barre police alleged Reckeweg was discharged from the emergency room at Wilkes-Barre General Hospital and refused to leave the facility. Reckeweg pulled a fire alarm and struggled with officers when she was escorted from the hospital, court records say.
According to the criminal complaint by Nanticoke police:
Reckeweg entered Cocoa Hut and sat down at a booth refusing a store manager’s request to leave the business. Reckeweg was prohibited from entering Cocoa Hut due to an incident at the business on Wednesday.
An officer arrived and repeatedly instructed Reckeweg she needed to leave the property. Reckeweg refused telling the officer, “I ain’t afraid of you,” the complaint says.
The officer picked up a drink Reckeweg had at the booth and walked her to the door where she allegedly attempted to knee the officer in the groin.
Reckeweg screamed “Suck my (expletive expletive)” at the officer, pulled down her face mask and spat saliva that struck the officer in the hand. Reckeweg also spat saliva that struck the face of a Newport Township officer assisting at the scene, the complaint says.
Police in the complaint said Reckeweg was placed in the rear seat of a cruiser where she kicked and damaged windows.
Reckeweg was arraigned by District Judge David Barilla in Forty Fort on three counts of aggravated assault and reckless endangerment, and one count each of resisting arrest, defiant trespass, disorderly conduct and criminal mischief. She was jailed at the Luzerne County Correctional Facility for lack of $25,000 bail.
The officer from Nanticoke suffered injuries to a finger and shoulder during the struggle.

 

2/21/2021
Nanticoke man charged with threatening child victim 
James Halpin – Citizens Voice


A Nanticoke man was arraigned Saturday on charges alleging he threatened the juvenile victim in an active child abuse investigation against him, according to charges.
Nicholas Jack McEwen, 37, of 60 W. Green St., is facing a felony charge of obstructing a child abuse investigation.
According to the charges, Luzerne County Children and Youth Services contacted police reporting that there is an open child abuse investigation identifying McEwen as the alleged perpetrator.
The victim told authorities that during an encounter on the street while walking to a friend’s house in January, McEwen leveled a threat.
“I have people looking for you,” the complaint quotes McEwen as telling the child. “Watch your back.”
The youth reported feeling threatened and intimidated by the remark, police said.
The complaint does not address the nature of the abuse McEwen is alleged to have committed.
Magisterial District Judge Donald L. Whittaker arraigned McEwen on the obstruction charge Saturday afternoon and set bail at $75,000.
McEwen was being held at the Luzerne County Correctional Facility with a preliminary hearing set for March 3.

 

2/19/2021
Police: Man shot by bail bondsman in Nanticoke dies
Bob Kalinowski – Citizens Voice

 
Authorities say a bail bondsman fatally shot a wanted man inside a Nanticoke home Thursday afternoon after showing up to take him into custody on a court-ordered arrest warrant.
City police identified the man as 26-year-old Thomas Worthy Painter.
Painter had been scheduled for a bail revocation hearing Friday in Luzerne County Court following a sixth arrest since April, most involving drug charges.
Police said the preliminary investigation revealed Painter pulled a gun on the bondsman, who responded by shooting Painter in the abdomen inside 83 Fairview Drive, which is located in a cul de sac neighborhood in the city’s Hanover section.
Painter was taken to Geisinger South Wilkes-Barre for treatment, but died of his injuries, Nanticoke police said.
Investigators said the bondsman, who was not identified, is cooperating and agreed to be interviewed by police.
Three other people were inside the home at the time gunfire broke out and were also interviewed, investigators said.
“Obviously, it’s very early on. We don’t know what the subject of those statements will be. That’s part of the investigation,” Luzerne County First Assistant District Attorney Sam Sanguedolce said.
Painter’s defense attorney, Larry Kansky, said the incident was a “tragedy” that didn’t need to happen.
“It’s sad a young person’s life had to end when most likely it would have been resolved,” Kansky said. “We were all set for the hearing tomorrow.”
Kansky said his client, who had drug problems, probably feared he was heading back to jail, but he thinks he would have been able to convince the court to keep him free with home confinement or electronic ankle monitoring.
Kansky said Painter lived with his grandmother at the Fairview Drive house and she put up her house as collateral for Painter’s bail with AA Bail Bonds in Wilkes-Barre.
“If he absconded, she would lose her house,” Kansky said.
Kansky said he learned Painter had called the bail bonds company asking that his grandmother no longer be held responsible for his bail, prompting the visit by the bondsman to take Painter into custody for Friday’s hearing.
“Did that mean he was going to run? Or refuse to go to the hearing? Or did he want suicide by bail bondsman? I don’t know. That’s something the district attorney’s office is going to have to investigate,” Kansky said.
A representative who answered the phone at AA Bail Bonds said the company did bail out Painter, but she had no further information.
Records show Painter has a lengthy criminal history and was out on bail on six open criminal cases in Luzerne County since April, including one from August in which he swam across the Susquehanna River following a hit-and-run crash in Plymouth only to be arrested by awaiting police when he reached the opposite shoreline in Hanover Twp.
County prosecutors had previously moved to revoke Painter’s bail, which authorities say prompted the efforts to take him into custody to ensure his appearance at Friday’s bail revocation hearing.
Sanguedolce said it is commonplace for bail bondsmen to be tasked with taking a defendant into custody when the person is subject to their company’s bail.
Thursday’s incident occurred around 2 p.m. inside 83 Fairview Drive.
Sanguedolce said the bondsman was “invited into the residence.”
“As he entered, he tried to take the individual into custody,” Sanguedolce said. “The individual pulled a weapon on the bondsman, who responded with gunfire and struck the individual.”

 

2/19/2021
Wanted man dies after Nanticoke shooting
Ed Lewis – Times Leader


A man wanted on a petition to revoke bail on various criminal cases suffered a fatal gunshot wound to his abdomen by a bail bondsman who may have defended himself inside a residence on Fairview Drive in the Hanover Section of Nanticoke Thursday afternoon.
Nanticoke police responded to 83 Fairview Drive at about 2 p.m. for a report of “shots fired,” and found a man with a gunshot wound to his abdomen, said Luzerne County First Assistant District Attorney Sam Sanguedolce.
Sanguedolce said a preliminary investigation shows the bail bondsman was at the residence to take an individual into custody on criminal warrants.
Sanguedolce later confirmed Thomas Worthy Painter was the person allegedly shot by the bail bondsman. Property and criminal records connect Painter, 26, to that address, and indicate he was facing a bail revocation hearing on Friday in county court.
“A preliminary investigation revealed a bail bondsman had come in search of that individual responding to a court’s order due to a warrant to take him into custody. The bondsman was invited into the residence. As he entered to take the individual into custody, the individual pulled a weapon. The bondsman responded with gunfire and struck the individual who was the subject of the warrant,” Sanguedolce said.
Painter was transported to Geisinger South Wilkes-Barre Medical Center. Painter’s lawyer, Lawrence Kansky, said he died at the hospital.
Sanguedolce said the bondsman, whose name was not released, volunteered to be questioned by investigators. Other people inside the residence were also questioned, Sanguedolce said.
No other injuries were reported.
“As far as we know, we do not believe (Painter) fired a weapon; he pointed it at the bail bondsman is what the initial indications tell us,” Sanguedolce said.
Legal proceedings
Court records say prosecutors on Feb. 5 filed a motion to revoke Painter’s bail on several open criminal cases. A bail revocation hearing was scheduled to be held Friday before President Judge Michael T. Vough.
Painter was recently arrested by police in Plymouth, Wilkes-Barre Township and Hanover Township. State police troopers with the Gaming Enforcement Bureau at Mohegan Sun Casino in Plains Township filed drug possession charges against Painter on Dec. 28.
According to court records, Plymouth police charged Painter with initiating a pursuit that involved a crash at West Main and Washington streets on Aug. 18. Painter attempted to escape custody by swimming across the Susquehanna River where he was arrested by Hanover Township police.
Wilkes-Barre Township police charged Painter with initiating a pursuit and crashing into two occupied vehicles before crashing into a support pole near Big Lots in the East End Centre on Nov. 16. A loaded handgun was allegedly found inside Painter’s wrecked vehicle and 3.8 grams of methamphetamine was found in his pants pockets.
Painter was arrested by Hanover Township police and Luzerne County Drug Task Force after he allegedly sold heroin and fentanyl on East Grand Street, Nanticoke, on Sept. 24.
Attorney’s account
Kansky explained Painter was released from the Luzerne County Correctional Facility in early January when his grandmother posted his bail. Earlier this week, Kansky said Painter called the bail bondsman and requested bail money be returned to his grandmother.
“He was going to spend a night in jail until the revocation hearing,” Kansky said.
According to Kansky, the bail bondsman was invited into the residence and went to a bedroom where Painter was located.
Kansky said Painter wanted to do drugs before he went, and reached for a rifle when he was shot.
“He probably wasn’t in the right frame of mind,” Kansky said. “I liked the kid; I feel sorry for Thomas and his family. He could have been saved. It’s very sad all around.”
Kansky said he was not at the residence when the shooting occurred.

 

2/5/2021
Couple accused of starving 20-pound boy, 6
James Halpin – Citizens Voice


A Rice Twp. couple was arrested Thursday on charges alleging they starved a 6-year-old boy so severely that he weighed only 20 pounds when he appeared at Greater Nanticoke Area Elementary Center one day last year.
Zachary Michael Vincent, 30, and his wife, Natalie M. Shaffer, 26, both of 155 Pine View Dr., were jailed without bail on felony assault charges following an arraignment by Magisterial District Judge Donald L. Whittaker.
According to the complaints filed by Luzerne County detectives, police began investigating the case in January 2020 after the starving child — who is Shaffer’s son and Vincent’s stepson — showed up at the Nanticoke school.
A witness told investigators that Shaffer had made comments about being “sick of taking care of this (expletive) kid” and that the couple kept the boy locked away from their other children, according to the complaint.
The boy would constantly ask for food and make comments such as “eat, eat,” according to police.
The child’s father told police he had repeatedly been asking Luzerne County Children and Youth Services to check on his children because of concerns about his son’s weight and was told that they would not get involved with custody orders, the complaint says.
During the time spent in his mother’s care, the boy did not attend school and spent most of his time at home, police said.
The charges describe the boy’s malnourishment as life threatening and potentially causing lasting effects upon his development.
During questioning, Shaffer told detectives that the boy had “been having some issues with his weight,” which she attributed to poor feeding habits by his father and to multiple health issues, including disruptive behavior, the complaint says.
However, the father told police Shaffer would not allow him to see the boy on a regular basis, and detectives say Vincent and Shaffer failed to bring the boy to 50 doctor appointments and had canceled another 52 visits during the time they had custody of the child.
Vincent and Shaffer are both charged with felony counts of aggravated assault. Vincent is additionally charged with a misdemeanor count of reckless endangerment, while Shaffer is also charged with child endangerment and reckless endangerment.
Police say they filed the charges Wednesday after learning that Children and Youth Services, which previously removed the boy from the home, placed the now-thriving child back into the custody of Vincent and Shaffer.
Luzerne County Manager David Pedri said he had no personal knowledge of the case and that, regardless, he could not comment due to state confidentiality laws.
“I can say that I have requested the County Division of Human Services to complete a full and comprehensive review of the extremely upsetting allegations made in this matter,” Pedri said. “I want to thank the Luzerne County District Attorney’s Office and law enforcement for their hard work and I would assure them the full and complete cooperation of Luzerne County Children and Youth as the investigation proceeds.”
After denying the couple bail during an arraignment Thursday morning, Whittaker ordered the pair held at the Luzerne County Correctional Facility with a preliminary hearing set for Feb. 10

 

1/28/2021
Nanticoke man wanted for defecating in doughnut shop

Michael P. Buffer - Citizens Voice

A Nanticoke man is wanted on indecent exposure charges after Wilkes-Barre police said he dropped his pants and defecated on the floor of a Public Square doughnut shop.

Greg Winslow, 45, is accused of walking into the Curry Donuts around 1 p.m. Tuesday and defecating on the floor. Police said surveillance video shows Winslow exposing his genitals to patrons in the restaurant during the process.

Officers took out a warrant charging Winslow with indecent exposure, disorderly conduct and criminal mischief.

Winslow remained wanted Wednesday afternoon.

 

1/21/2021
Nanticoke teen, 17, charged as an adult on numerous firearm, robbery offenses in Hazleton
elewis@timesleader.com

City police Wednesday added drug possession charges against a 17-year-old boy from Nanticoke, who was charged as an adult last week on felony assault and robbery offenses.

Fritz Tazhier Napoleon, of East Noble Street, was in possession of marijuana, rolling papers and Xanax pills when he was arrested along with Dashaun Malik Murray, 24, of Pine Street, Freeland, and a 14-year-old boy from Garwood Street, Scranton, during a traffic stop on James Street, Hazleton, on Jan. 11.

Police were searching for Napoleon and Murray in connection to an assault and robbery incident on Jan. 8.

During the traffic stop, police say Napoleon was in possession of an open package of marijuana labeled “Insane,” a package of rolling papers and Xanax pills in a fanny pack, according to court records.

Murray was allegedly in possession of a Kel-Tec P3AT semi-automatic handgun and the 14-year-old boy was found with a 9mm handgun with an altered serial number hanging from his neck.

Police said Murray is a convicted felon and not permitted to carry, own or possess a firearm.

Napoleon and Murray were arraigned last week by District Judge Joseph Halesey in Hanover Township on multiple counts of robbery, aggravated assault and criminal conspiracy charges. Murray was also hit with three firearm offenses. Halesey jailed the pair deeming them a danger to society.

On Wednesday, Napoleon was arraigned by District Judge Joseph Spagnuolo in Plains Township on charges of possession of a small amount of marijuana, possession of a controlled substance and two counts of possession of drug paraphernalia. Bail was set at $5,000 on the latest charges.

 

1/13/2021

Wanted man, Nanticoke juvenile arrested in Hazleton

STAFF REPORT Citizens Voice

One man and two juveniles were arrested during a traffic stop near the intersection of North James and West Spruce streets at 3:18 p.m. Monday by Hazleton police in coordination with West Hazleton police.

Police said Dashaun Malik Murray, 24, of Freeland and a 17-year-old male of Nanticoke were wanted for numerous felony and misdemeanor charges, including aggravated assault and robbery from a recent incident.

There was also a warrant for the 17-year-old male stemming from several felony firearms violations in early 2020.

The second juvenile, a 14-year-old male of Scranton, was wanted by Juvenile Probation.

Narcotics detectives observed the two wanted individuals occupying a vehicle traveling through the city. The three were taken into custody without incident.

Murray, a convicted felon, was found to be in possession of a handgun and charged with possession of a firearm prohibited, firearms not to be carried without a license and possession of a weapon.

The 14-year-old male was found to be in possession of a Tec-9 with an obliterated serial number and a large capacity magazine. He was charged with possessing a firearm with manufacturer number altered and possession of a firearm prohibited.

The 17-year-old male was found to be in possession of pills, marijuana and drug paraphernalia. Pending charges include possession of a controlled substance, possession of a small amount of marijuana and possession of drug paraphernalia.

Murray and the 17-year-old were arraigned by Magisterial District Judge Joseph Halesey and both were denied bail. The 14-year-old was transported to Northampton County Juvenile Detention Facility.