2021 Nanticoke PD News

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.

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