2022 Nanticoke PD News
Man charged with threatening to post intimate pictures of woman
NANTICOKE — Nanticoke police charged Brandon Heaton with threatening to post intimate pictures of a woman unless she paid him, according to court records.
The woman reported she was in a relationship with Heaton, 39, and he had pictures of sexual moments they took together, court records say.
She claimed Heaton allegedly threatened to upload the pictures on social media if she did not comply to his demands for cash.
Police in court records say the woman further reported Heaton threatened to kill her, her boyfriend and family after she obtained a court-imposed restraining order against him.
Heaton, of West Grand Street, Nanticoke, was arraigned Monday by District Judge Brian James Tupper in Luzerne County Central Court on charges of unlawful dissemination of intimate image, terroristic threats and harassment. He was jailed at the county correctional facility for lack of $5,000 bail.
Police identify infant found dead in Nanticoke home
Vivian Muniz – Pahomepage.com
NANTICOKE, LUZERNE COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) — State police have identified the one-month-old girl that was found dead inside a Nanticoke home, Monday.
According to Pennsylvania State Police, around 10:00 a.m. Monday troopers were called to assist the Nanticoke City Police Department with a death investigation at 167 West Green Street.
PSP states the victim, Avaya Jade Rasmus-Alberto, born September 22, was found dead in her bassinet.
PSP Wilkes-Barre along with the Luzerne County Detectives unit is conducting an investigation into the death.
Anyone with information is asked to contact PSP Wilkes-Barre at 570-821-4110.
Police: Nanticoke man steals two vehicles
JACKSON TWP. — A Nanticoke man facing charges he shot out windows at Lake Lehman High School was arrested Sunday on allegations he crashed a stolen vehicle leaving behind an intoxicated friend only to steal another vehicle.
Eugene Robert Paisley, 19, of East Main Street, was encountered by Kingston Township police slumped over the steering wheel of a 2013 Kia Soranto reportedly stolen from a residence on Hillside Road, less than one mile from where he crashed a 2016 Hyundai Tuscon down a steep embankment in the area of Chase Road and Hillside Road in Jackson Township, according to court records.
Jackson Township police allege Paisley stole the Hyundai, owned by his step-father in Nanticoke.
Paisley allegedly told his mother he was going to a college party prior to taking the Hyundai without permission.
Court records say Paisley is free on $40,000 bail he posted Aug. 19 after Lehman Township police charged him with shooting out windows at Lake Lehman High School on July 26.
For the latest incident Sunday, Paisley was arraigned by District Judge David Barilla in Forty Fort on charges of theft, receiving stolen property, prohibited offensive weapons, loitering and prowling at night, accidents involving damage to attended vehicle, reckless endangerment, failure to notify police of an accident and two counts of unauthorized use of a vehicle. He was also cited with several traffic offenses.
Paisley was jailed at the Luzerne County Correctional Facility for lack of $75,000 bail.
According to the criminal complaint:
Jackson Township police encountered a 2016 Hyundai crashed down a steep embankment at Chase Road and Hillside Road at about 2:15 a.m. A passenger in the vehicle was stopped walking in the roadway as it appeared he vomited on himself and reeked of an alcoholic beverage.
Police said the Hyundai is registered to Paisley’s step-father in Nanticoke who did not give anyone permission to take the vehicle.
A pair of brass knuckles was allegedly found inside the wrecked Hyundai.
About six hours after the crash, Kingston Township police encountered Paisley slumped over the steering wheel of a 2013 Kia Soranto in the 500 block of Memorial Highway at about 8:30 a.m.
Paisley was identified by his driver’s license.
Police said the Kia was stolen from a residence on Hillside Road less than one mile from where the Hyundai had crashed, the complaint says.
Plymouth police charge Nanticoke man with vehicular homicide
Ed Lewis – Times Leader
PLYMOUTH — A Nanticoke man was under the influence of fentanyl when he crashed his Ford Explorer that killed a pedestrian on Main Street in Plymouth earlier this year, according to court records.
Jose Calo, 58, of Pine Street, was recorded by surveillance cameras weaving into oncoming traffic when he struck James Mahon, 86, in the area of 10 E. Main St. on June 25, court records say.
Mahon died at Geisinger Wyoming Valley Medical Center in Plains Township.
A blood test revealed Calo had fentanyl in his system, according to court records.
Calo was arraigned Friday by District Judge Donald Whittaker in Nanticoke on charges of homicide by vehicle while driving under the influence, two counts each of accidents involving death and driving under the influence, and five traffic violations. He was jailed at the Luzerne County Correctional Facility without bail as Whittaker deemed him a flight risk.
According to the criminal complaint:
Police responded to a vehicle crash in the area of Turkey Hill on West Main Street finding an overturned Ford Explorer near the building.
Bystanders had pulled an unresponsive Calo, the driver of the Ford, from the vehicle.
About 40 yards away, Mahon was partially trapped under a vehicle parked in front of 10 E. Main St.
Emergency medical technicians and firefighters removed Mahon who was rushed to Geisinger where he died, the complaint says.
An autopsy revealed Mahon died from multiple traumatic injuries due to a vehicle crash.
Calo became alert when he was administered two doses of Narcan and was transported to Geisinger.
Video footage showed Calo driving the Ford south on East Main Street weaving into oncoming traffic nearly colliding with other vehicles, the complaint says.
Calo stopped the Ford as the drivers of two other vehicles he nearly struck also stopped to approach the Ford.
Police in the complaint say the two drivers attempted to get Calo's attention when Calo sped off striking and completely spinning around a parked vehicle before hitting Mahon who was run over by the front and rear tires of the Ford.
Calo continued to accelerate after striking Mahon crossing into the southbound lane and mounting a curb near Turkey Hill causing his Ford to overturn, the complaint says.
Nanticoke man sentenced for soliciting minor for sex
Ed Lewis – Times Leader
WILKES-BARRE — A Nanticoke man accused of sending nude pictures of himself and soliciting sex from a girl was sentenced in Luzerne County Court.
President Judge Michael T. Vough sentenced Brandon Joseph Smith, 27, to one year, nine months to three years, six months in state prison followed by three years probation on charges of criminal solicitation to commit statutory sexual assault, corruption of minors and possessing child pornography. Smith pled guilty to the charges June 21.
Newport Township police and Luzerne County detectives arrested Smith in January after an investigation revealed he had been having inappropriate contact with a minor female.
Smith was aware he was twice the girl’s age and sent her multiple explicit images of himself and offered the girl cash and gifts in exchange for nude photos and sex acts from her, according to court records.
Convicted drug felon and wife charged with illegally transferring firearms
NANTICOKE — Four days before Randy Matthew Rosario pled guilty and sentenced for trafficking crack cocaine, he sold 13 firearms to his wife in order to keep the weapons within his arsenal, according to court records.
The transfer ownership of the 13 firearms is apparently illegal resulting in Rosario, 31, and Hassannah Sham Wrancher, 31, being charged Tuesday by Luzerne County detectives.
Wrancher reportedly told detectives she had no knowledge about how many firearms she bought from Rosario nor did she know how to load, unload and handle the firearms, court records say.
Wrancher further claimed, court records say, she did not enjoy discharging firearms as she feared she would break her fingernails.
Rosario was arrested in May 2021 by state police Troop P Vice Unit – Wilkes-Barre, Wilkes-Barre police and the Luzerne County Drug Task Force after he sold crack cocaine in the parking lot of Wilkes-Barre Township Marketplace on Highland Park Boulevard, Wilkes-Barre Township.
Rosario pled guilty to a felony count of possession with intent to deliver a controlled substance before Judge David W. Lupas on May 9, and was immediately sentenced to 18 months probation.
Four days before pleading guilty and being sentenced, Rosario and Wrancher went to a licensed firearm dealer in Wilkes-Barre Township to transfer 12 of his firearms to Wrancher, court records say.
Two days after Rosario was sentenced, detectives visited Rosario and Wrancher at their West South Street residence in Nanticoke where they seized 14 firearms in an unlocked closet and a safe, and a firearm kept at a storage unit on Mundy Street, Wilkes-Barre Township.
Most of the firearms were loaded when seized, court records say.
Rosario allegedly told detectives, “She did it for me so I could keep them,” acknowledging he had access to all of the firearms.
Rosario and Wrancher were arraigned by District Judge Rick Cronauer in Wilkes-Barre on Tuesday.
Rosario was charged with 39 counts of criminal conspiracy to provide false information to transfer firearms. He was released on $75,000 unsecured bail.
Wrancher was charged with 26 counts of criminal conspiracy to provide false information to transfer firearms and 13 counts of unsworn falsification to authorities. She was released on $10,000 unsecured bail.
Misdemeanor assault charge dismissed against Nanticoke City councilman
WILKES-BARRE — A preliminary hearing scheduled Wednesday for a Nanticoke City councilman was cancelled when domestic abuse charges were dismissed last month.
Nanticoke police charged Joseph Henry Nalepa, 53, after he allegedly threw a woman to the floor inside his Jones Street residence on July 10. A man reported seeing Nalepa throw the woman through a sliding glass door, according to court records.
Police went to Nalepa’s residence where the woman claimed he struck her during an argument when he arrived home from a day of drinking, court records say.
The woman had redness to her face but refused to allow her injury to be photographed. She further declined to provide a written statement.
Nalepa was charged with a misdemeanor count of simple assault.
A preliminary hearing was scheduled for July 17 but online court records say the proceeding was continued that day to Wednesday, Aug. 17.
However, a district judge on July 17 dismissed the simple assault charge against Nalepa as online court records say a prosecutor from the state Attorney General’s Office failed to appear for the July 17 hearing and the woman opted not to testify.
Police: Nanticoke man shoved gun in pregnant girlfriend's mouth
James Halpin – Citizens Voice
A Nanticoke man previously accused of pointing a gun at police and a Luzerne County Children & Youth caseworker was arraigned Wednesday on additional charges alleging he beat his pregnant girlfriend and threatened to murder her while shoving a gun in her mouth.
Cory Gonzalez Crudop, 40, of 64 Hill St., is also accused of smashing out the woman's windshield with a car battery while her 11-month-old daughter was in the back seat.
According to the complaint, the assault took place on July 12, two days before Gonzalez Crudop is alleged to have pulled a gun on law enforcement.
His girlfriend, Melissa Mervin, initially reported that she had been in an argument with Gonzalez Crudop, who had recently pointed a gun at her, and that she went to get the gun to hide it to prevent him from doing so again.
Gonzalez Crudop then grabbed Mervin and threw her along with the gun across the floor, police said.
Gonzalez Crudop began beating and choking Mervin, at one point taking the gun and sticking the barrel into her mouth, threatening to kill her, the complaint alleges.
The complaint also alleges Gonzalez Crudop hit Mervin, who is pregnant, in the stomach.
Although Mervin contacted police to report the assault, she initially declined to give a written statement, saying she was afraid of what Gonzalez Crudop would do.
But later the same evening, Gonzalez Crudop jumped onto the hood of Mervin's car and began stomping, according to the complaint. When Mervin began to drive, Gonzalez Crudop threw a car battery and smashed the windshield, police said.
Mervin then agreed to press charges against Gonzalez Crudop.
Gonzalez Crudop became the subject of a manhunt two days later on July 14, when he is alleged to have pointed a gun at police and a child services caseworker who arrived at his home to remove children.
An intense search ensued in Nanticoke throughout the day until an anonymous tip led police to capture Gonzalez Crudop at 161 State St.
He was previously charged with aggravated assault and illegal weapons possession over that episode.
For the alleged assault of his girlfriend, Gonzalez Crudop is now charged with additional counts of aggravated assault, aggravated assault of an unborn child, making terroristic threats, simple assault, reckless endangerment, criminal mischief and harassment.
Magisterial District Judge Thomas F. Malloy arraigned Gonzalez Crudop on the charges Wednesday morning and denied bail, deeming him a danger to society.
Gonzalez Crudop is being held at the Luzerne County Correctional Facility with a preliminary hearing scheduled for Aug. 17.
Nanticoke man charged with shooting out windows of Lake-Lehman High School
James Halpin – Citizens Voice
A Nanticoke man who allegedly shot out two windows at Lake-Lehman Junior/Senior High School during a drive-by last week was arrested on felony weapons charges Monday afternoon.
Lehman Twp. police identified the suspect as Eugene Robert Paisley Jr., 18.
Police allege that Paisley fired a 9mm pistol at the school around 1:30 a.m. July 26, shooting holes in two windows in the school’s gymnasium.
In an effort to locate Paisley, township police posted a wanted poster for him on Facebook on Monday morning. By the afternoon, the original post had been removed and police reposted the image, saying Paisley reported the initial post featuring his mugshot to site administrators.
Later Monday afternoon, the post was updated with news of Paisley’s capture.
The charges against Paisley say the school’s volleyball coach discovered the bullet holes after arriving for practice. After finding bits of glass and insulation, the coach spotted a bullet fragment on the gym floor, and police said they recovered a second bullet fragment that was lodged in a noise-canceling tile on the ceiling.
State troopers who were separately investigating shots fired into convenience stores in Huntington Mills and Noxen the same night seized a 9mm pistol and shell casings from the Plains Twp. home of a juvenile suspect, according to the complaint.
The boy denied shooting out the school windows and provided investigators with a video showing Paisley driving south on Old Route 115 and pulling out a silver and black pistol as he approached the school, according to the complaint.
The video shows Paisley aiming out of his driver’s side window and firing two shots in the direction of the gym, police said.
Police charged Paisley with felony counts of shooting into an occupied structure, carrying a concealed gun without a license and institutional vandalism. Paisley is also charged with misdemeanor counts of reckless endangerment and a summary count of reckless driving.
Paisley was arraigned Monday afternoon and sent to Luzerne County Correctional Facility in lieu of $40,000 bail.
A preliminary hearing is scheduled for Aug. 11.
Police said they are searching for the car Paisley allegedly drove during the incident, a blue 1997 Chevrolet Cavalier with aftermarket taillights, license plate LRR0818.
Tipster leads authorities to man who pulled gun on police, CYS caseworker
James Halpin – Citizens Voice
A man who allegedly pointed a gun at police and a Luzerne County Children & Youth caseworker at a Nanticoke home late Thursday morning was captured hours later in the city.
Cory Gonzalez Crudup, 40, was taken into custody at 161 State St. at about 5:10 p.m. Thursday following an anonymous tip to the Luzerne County 911 Center, Nanticoke police announced via Facebook.
The initial incident took place at 64 Hill St. when caseworkers and police went to a home to remove children, District Attorney Sam Sanguedolce said. That incident happened at about 11:10 a.m., police said.
State and local police from multiple departments searched the area for hours before Crudup was located.
Crudup was arraigned before Magisterial District Judge Donald Whittaker and held without bail after being deemed a flight risk. He was remanded to Luzerne County Correctional Facility, pending a preliminary hearing.
Nanticoke councilman charged with hitting wife
James Halpin – Citizens Voice
A Nanticoke city councilman who was recently hired as a school police officer has been arrested for allegedly hitting his wife during an alcohol-fueled domestic dispute.
Joseph Henry Nalepa, 53, is charged with simple assault after a neighbor reported seeing him hit Nicole Nalepa and knock her to the floor of the family home on Jones Street around 7:45 p.m. Sunday.
The neighbor, who spotted the incident through a sliding glass door leading into the basement, called police and directed officers to the Nalepa residence.
Nicole Nalepa let a responding officer inside, saying her husband had come home from “a day of drinking” and that he hit her in the face during an argument, the complaint alleges.
Nicole Nalepa had redness to her face but would not allow police to photograph it and declined to provide a written statement, police said.
Officers arrested Joseph Nalepa and charged him with a single misdemeanor count of simple assault.
Magisterial District Judge Ferris Peter Webby Sr. arraigned Joseph Nalepa on the charges Sunday night and released him on $5,000 unsecured bail. A preliminary hearing was scheduled for Aug. 17.
Joseph Nalepa is a Coast Guard veteran who served 17 years in the Pennsylvania State Police.
In January 2021, he was appointed to Nanticoke City Council following the death of Councilman John Pietrzyk.
Last month, the Greater Nanticoke Area School Board hired him to be a school police officer for the 2022-23 academic year.
With a salary of $46,000, Joseph Nalepa has been assigned to police the Elementary Center, the Education Center and the Kennedy Early Childhood Center.
Superintendent Ronald Grevera did not immediately return a message Monday inquiring about Joseph Nalepa’s status with the district.
Nanticoke man charged with stomping woman unconscious
James Halpin – Citizens Voice
A Nanticoke man with a checkered past broke into a woman’s home, dragged her out to the street and kicked her in the head until she stopped moving, according to charges filed by Newport Twp. police.
Paul Andrew Halliday, 47, of 237 W. Ridge St., is charged with burglary and aggravated assault following the attack Tuesday morning.
According to the complaint, Halliday showed up at a home at 139 Brown Row, Nanticoke, around 4:15 a.m. and broke through a back screen window to get inside. Halliday proceeded to ransack the house, screaming about the whereabouts of a safe, police said.
After tearing apart the house, Halliday grabbed the victim, Heather Papciak, dragged her out to the street and slammed her to the ground, police said.
Halliday proceeded to repeatedly kick Papciak in the head until she stopped moving in an assault that was captured on surveillance video, police said. At one point a neighbor tried to pull Halliday off Papciak but Halliday pushed him to the ground, police said.
Officers arriving on scene found Papciak with a head swollen to “almost double in size” along with bleeding to the head and arms, according to the complaint. Her shoes had apparently fallen off during the assault and were found in the middle of the street, police said.
Papciak told officers she could not remember what happened and was rushed to an area hospital to be treated for head trauma, police said.
Officers charged Halliday with aggravated assault, burglary, simple assault and criminal trespassing.
Magisterial District Judge Matthew C. Christopher arraigned Halliday on the charges and denied bail, deeming him a danger to the victim.
Halliday was being held at the Luzerne County Correctional Facility with a preliminary hearing scheduled for July 20.
It is not the first time Halliday has made headlines. The owner of the now-defunct Prospect Street Cafe, Halliday was previously charged in several other cases with fleeing the police on a high-speed chase, assaulting his girlfriend in a drunken rage, manufacturing drugs and possessing crack cocaine.
The Prospect Street Cafe was also the scene of a high-profile box-cutter slashing that severely injured a Nanticoke woman in 2012.
Nanticoke woman sentenced for trafficking fentanyl
Ed Lewis – Times Leader
WILKES-BARRE — A Nanticoke woman arrested on allegations of peddling fentanyl was sentenced to six months to one-year at the Luzerne County Correctional Facility.
President Judge Michael T. Vough sentenced Stephanie Danko, 33, on charges of possession with intent to deliver a controlled substance. Danko pled guilty to the charge Dec. 13.
Danko and a co-conspirator were arrested by police in Hanover Township and Nanticoke and the Luzerne County Drug Task Force after a search warrant was executed at their Lincoln Avenue residence on Nov. 9, 2020.
Court records say agents seized 887 packets of fentanyl and heroin, three digital scales, three cellular phones, two bags of marijuana, a firearm, a box of ammunition and more than $12,000 cash from the home. The firearm was reported stolen from a Pittston residence.
The case against the co-defendant was dismissed due to his death in a motorcycle crash in Slocum Township in October 2021.
Nanticoke man gets 9 years for meth, heroin conspiracy
James Halpin – Citizens Voice
A Nanticoke man was sentenced this week to serve nine years in federal prison for his role in a methamphetamine and heroin trafficking conspiracy, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
William Terron, 38, previously pleaded guilty to conspiring to distribute between 1½ to five kilograms of crystal meth and between one and three kilograms of heroin in Luzerne, Lackawanna and Schuylkill counties in 2018.
U.S. District Court Judge Robert D. Mariani imposed the sentence Wednesday.
Terron was one of five people a grand jury indicted for the conspiracy in December 2018.
Previously sentenced in the case were: Amanda Boyle, 37, Sweet Valley, nine years in prison; Rudolph Ford, 33, Olyphant, seven years in prison; Francheska Quinones, 28, Nanticoke, 63 months in prison; and Adam Holcomb, 37, Shickshinny, 10 months in prison.
The case was investigated by the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco Firearms and Explosives, Pennsylvania State Police, Kingston police, the Luzerne County Drug Task Force and the Attorney General’s Office.
West Pittston Police Department
Theft by Unlawful Taking F3 (2)
Theft by Deception F3
George Shotwell III.
On 04/08/2022 The West Pittston Borough Police Department received a report from Scranton and Dunmore PD regarding the theft of an ATV. Further investigation led Officers to learn that the listed individual ran a service of repairing ATV vehicles. Investigators learned that the offender took possession of an ATV and then traded it without permission of the owner. Further investigation uncovered that Shotwell then took another ATV and sold it without telling the owner that the ATV he traded it for was stolen.
On 04/10/2022 Officers with the West Pittston Police Department along with Nanticoke City Police executed an arrest warrant at Shotwell’s home in Nanticoke. Shotwell was taken into custody and detained at the Luzerne County Correctional Facility on a Parole Warrant.
Shotwell will be arraigned on the listed charges on 04/11/2022.
If anyone has any further information or would like to report any activity regarding this, please call either the West Pittston Police, Nanticoke City Police, or your respective local police department.
The West Pittston Police Department would like to thank Nanticoke City Police with their assistance in this investigation and the apprehension of this individual and Scranton and Dunmore Police with their assistance regarding this investigation.
Wilkes-Barre man sentenced on child sex offense
WILKES-BARRE — A man from Wilkes-Barre who admitted to sexually assaulting a boy for nearly two years was sentenced in Luzerne County Court on Friday.
Terry Raymond Naugle, 43, formerly of Scott Street, was sentenced by President Judge Michael T. Vough to nine-to-23 months in prison on a statutory sexual assault charge.
Naugle pled guilty to the charge Dec. 6 as prosecutors withdrew charges of involuntary deviate sexual intercourse, corruption of minors, endangering the welfare of a child and two counts of indecent assault.
Nanticoke police arrested Naugle in July 2019 after investigating claims from a then 17-year-old boy.
The teen reported Naugle sexually assaulted him when he was between 5 and 7 years old at places in Nanticoke and Hanover Township, according to court records.
Court records say the teen described Naugle as an “alcoholic and a bastard.”
Naugle opted to remain silent before he was sentenced by Vough.
Vough granted Naugle credit for 295 days time served in jail. Since Naugle reached the minimum sentence, Vough granted immediate parole but Naugle remains jailed until he finds a permanent residence.
Naugle is scheduled to return to the courthouse and appear before Judge David W. Lupas April 28 to be sentenced on a drug trafficking offense.
While Naugle was free on bail on the sexual assault case, Wilkes-Barre police arrested him May 25, 2021, after he allegedly attempted to hide a bundle of heroin while being watched by officers in the area of 86 E. North St., according to court records.
Nanticoke police donate body armor to Ukraine war effort
Bob Kalinowski – Citizens Voice
NANTICOKE — Expired body armor from the Nanticoke City Police Department is on its way to help the people of Ukraine standing up to the Russian invasion.
The department on Wednesday delivered seven protective vests to the Nanticoke office of state Rep. Gerald Mullery, D-119, of Newport Twp., to assist the effort spearheaded by state Sen. Marty Flynn of Scranton.
Flynn, D-22, of Scranton, is working with St. Vladimir’s Ukrainian Catholic Church in Scranton to send medical supplies and protective military equipment to Ukraine.
“Sen. Flynn’s humanitarian effort on behalf of the people of Ukraine goes without saying. It’s thoughtful. There is a big Ukrainian population here in Northeastern Pennsylvania,” said Cody Forgach, Mullery’s chief of staff. “These vests could be used to protect a mother or father or a child in Ukraine.”
While the vests, all more than five years old, no longer comply with law enforcement standards due to possible liability issues, they still provide protection. Law enforcement entities around the country have donated expired vests and other equipment to Ukraine.
After being contacted by Flynn’s staff, Forgach said he reached out to Nanticoke police — the biggest department in Mullery’s district — and Chief Mike Roke was immediately cooperative, saying the department had seven expired vests to donate.
“He said ‘yes, absolutely,’” Forgach recalled. “They can’t be used. They otherwise would go to waste.”
Roke said his officers were “happy to help.”
“Thanks to Rep. Mullery for reaching out to us and working with all involved to make this work,” Roke said.
Flynn announced Wednesday his office will be collecting medical supplies — including bandages, gauze, first-aid kits and over-the-counter pain medication — to send to Ukrainian refugees. In addition, his office will also be accepting helmets, body armor, bulletproof vests, boots and other protective gear to assist Ukrainian military, fire fighters, police officers and aid workers.
“The Ukrainian people have shown incredible bravery in the face of Russia’s unprovoked, violent invasion. We want the people of Ukraine to know we stand with them in solidarity. It has to be more than just words, though. We have to act. We have to really help,” Flynn said. “New, used, lightly used, expired — we’re accepting it. If it’s going to save someone’s life, we’re accepting it. The Ukrainian people are in dire need of body armor of any kind. This is a situation where any amount of body armor could be the difference between life and death. These are the highest stakes imaginable, and we want to send as much aid as possible.”
Pastor Myron Myronyuk, of St. Vladimir’s Ukrainian Catholic Church, 430 N. 7th Ave., Scranton, has been working with Flynn to send the supplies to Ukraine.
“After learning of Father Myron’s work getting supplies to Ukraine and talking with him about the struggle Ukrainians are facing to protect themselves, I decided we had to do something,” Flynn said. “Every bit of aid helps, but I wanted to focus on sending protective equipment. I want to help keep the Ukrainian people safe. They’re fighting for their lives, and we’re in a position to make a potentially life-saving difference.”
Donations can be dropped off at Flynn’s offices at 409 N. Main Ave. in Scranton and 307 Betty St. in Eynon, or at Joyce Insurance at 409 N. Main St. in Pittston. Donations are being accepted Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Spudis avoids capital homicide trial, pleads guilty to 2013 murder of Gertrude Price, 97
WILKES-BARRE — Luzerne County Deputy District Attorney Daniel E. Zola said the incarceration of Anthony Michael Spudis in 2014 helped preserve evidence.
Spudis, 39, on Friday pled guilty to third-degree murder and burglary in the fatal stabbing of 97-year-old Gertrude Price inside her West Grand Street, Nanticoke, residence on Thanksgiving night 2013. Her body was found in her bed by a family member the next day, Nov. 28, 2013.
The agreement reached between Spudis, his attorneys and prosecutors avoided an oft-delayed death penalty trial set to begin later this month before county Judge Tina Polachek Gartley. Spudis is now set to spend decades behind bars.
State police at Wilkes-Barre alleged Spudis entered Price’s residence through a basement window, intending to ransack the home. When Price confronted him, Spudis stabbed her multiple times in the head with a screwdriver, investigators alleged.
Investigators believed Spudis, after killing Price, stole items from her home and hid them in the basement of his then apartment on West Union Street in Nanticoke. Spudis allegedly returned to Price’s home with his girlfriend to steal more items.
Zola said Spudis was jailed for unrelated burglaries and sentenced to state prison in 2014. While Spudis was in prison, Zola said county Det. Robert Lehman and state police Trooper Edward Urban “broke the case wide open” when they found items taken from Price’s home in his basement, including a pair of Timberland boots.
“We previously had castings (boot imprints) from Gertrude’s basement. Whoever the perpetrator was at the time he entered the residence through the basement, we just had to track down those boots, ” Zola said.
With Lehman and Urban finding Timberland boots in Spudis’ prior residence, Zola said the Timberland’s were an exact match of the castings from Price’s basement.
“The case I would say can be characterized cold for a period of four years. Thanks to the work of Det. Lehman and Trooper Ed Urban, they followed up on a few leads a few years later and got us to where we needed to be. The case really broke wide open four years later when those two guys decided to go back to what was Anthony’s previous residence. But for that visit to the residence, this case would remain unsolved. So thank you to both of my investigators on this case,” Zola said.
Prosecutors filed a notice of aggravating circumstances May 11, 2018, announcing they were seeking the death penalty for Spudis, if convicted of first-degree homicide.
The case moved forward with trial dates set by Gartley throughout 2019 and early 2020 until the emergency shutdown caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
Efforts were made when restrictions were relaxed to schedule a jury trial until another surge of COVID-19.
Spudis’ trial was scheduled to begin March 28. If convicted of first-degree murder, the penalty phase occurs where jurors decide life in prison or death.
District Attorney Sam Sanguedolce said the decision to enter a plea agreement to third-degree murder was supported by Price’s family.
“I would have to thank the family throughout all the delays of this case, some of which were caused by the length of the investigation, then COVID. They could not have been more supportive with all the trauma they went through and all they had to deal with. It is really thanks to them they really supported us the whole way,” Sanguedolce noted.
Sanguedolce said Price’s family preferred not to sit through a trial reliving the traumatic experience of losing their loved one.
“The prosecution team was ready for trial. When we did the balancing act of whether it was worth pushing this to trial and given what we could get out of the plea, it is very likely he wouldn’t get out of jail anyway,” Sanguedolce said. “We followed the wishes of the family. We have a plea everyone could live with. We are very happy with the time being served. That’s how we ended up here today.”
Gartley cautiously reviewed the plea agreement with Spudis and his attorneys, Brian Scott Gaglione and Robert Allen Sauman, before accepting the deal with prosecutors.
When it came time for the sentencing phase, Price’s daughter, Carol, and her family opted not to speak.
Spudis, who was given the option to express any remorse and apologize, opted to stay quiet.
Spudis’ attorneys and Zola asked Gartley to impose the agreed upon sentence in the plea agreement, which the judge did, sentencing Spudis to 25 to 60 years in prison.
Spudis gave up his appellate rights in the plea agreement except for the issue of ineffective assistance of counsel. But, during Gartley’s questioning, Spudis said he was satisfied with his lawyers.
Spudis pleads guilty to killing 97-year-old woman
James Halpin – Citizens Voice
The Nanticoke man accused of brutally murdering a 97-year-old woman with a screwdriver pleaded guilty Friday to third-degree murder and burglary in exchange for prosecutors not pursuing the death penalty and was immediately sentenced to serve up to 60 years in prison.
Anthony Spudis, 39, was charged with criminal homicide, robbery and burglary for allegedly killing Gertrude Price in the bed of her Nanticoke home during a Thanksgiving night break-in on Nov. 29, 2013.
Spudis had been scheduled to stand trial on the charges starting on March 28. Instead, he pleaded guilty to third-degree murder and burglary in exchange for prosecutors dropping their capital case as well as the robbery charge.
Luzerne County Judge Tina Polachek Gartley accepted the plea and immediately imposed the 25-60 year sentence the parties agreed upon in the plea deal, saying there was nothing she could do to ease the family’s “devastating pain.”
Neither the prosecution nor the defense offered any testimony during the sentencing hearing.
Afterward, Price’s daughter Carol Belmont said the family was satisfied.
“We’re happy with the outcome and all the work they did,” Belmont said of Pennsylvania State Police and the Luzerne County District Attorney’s Office.
District Attorney Sam Sanguedolce said the prosecution agreed to reduce a capital murder case to a plea to third-degree murder only with the family’s blessing.
“This was a traumatic experience,” Sanguedolce said. “The delay was traumatic. They really preferred not to have to sit through a trial. I can say that the prosecution team was ready for trial. When we did the balancing act of whether it was worth pushing this to trial given what we could get out of the plea, it is very likely that he doesn’t get out of jail alive anyway so we followed the wishes of the family.”
Prosecutors alleged Spudis — who was living with his then-girlfriend at 2 W. Union St. — went out to burglarize homes Thanksgiving night in 2013. He broke a basement window frame and screen to enter Price’s home at 23 E. Grand St., thinking no one was there, prosecutors said.
When he encountered Price, Spudis stabbed her with a screwdriver and beat her to death, then proceeded to rob her possessions, prosecutors said.
Belmont and her husband, Richard, found Price dead the morning of Nov. 29, 2013, her battered body motionless in her bed and her home ransacked.
Deputy District Attorney Daniel Zola — who prosecuted the case along with Deputy Attorney General Michelle Hardik and ADA Gerry Scott — said the case went cold for about four years until Detective Robert Lehman and Trooper Edward Urban followed up on some fresh leads and searched Spudis’ former home.
“But for that visit to the residence, this case would remain unsolved,” Zola said.
Inside the home, police found Price’s Access and Medicare cards, as well as some of her family photos and other of Price’s belongings that had Spudis’ DNA on them.
According to police, Spudis’ Timberland boots matched shoe impressions left in Price’s basement, and Spudis’ DNA was also found on rubber gloves recovered from the crime scene.
Authorities also recovered DNA from Spudis’ then-girlfriend at the scene of the crime, including on a knife, the screwdriver and a white shelled necklace found next to Price’s bed. She was never charged, and Zola would not comment Friday on the extend of her involvement in the crime.
“Obviously the investigation is ongoing into anybody else who might have been involved,” Zola said, noting that the woman has cooperated with the investigation.
Pennsylvania State Police charged Spudis with the murder in December 2017, while he was serving a 7½ to 15-year prison sentence at State Correctional Institution Somerset for a series of burglary and theft cases.
Spudis has been jailed without bail at the Luzerne County Correctional Facility awaiting trial in the murder case. He did not receive credit for any time served.
Spudis declined to comment as sheriff’s deputies escorted him out of the courthouse in shackles.
Nanticoke man gets 10 years for drug delivery resulting in death
James Halpin – Citizens Voice
A Nanticoke man has been sentenced to 10 years in federal prison for delivering a dose of fentanyl that resulted in someone’s death, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
James Tindol, Jr., 38, previously pleaded guilty to distributing fentanyl that resulted in the death of a person identified only as A.V. The person acquired the fentanyl from Tindol on Sept. 19, 2019, and overdosed a short time later, prosecutors said.
U.S. District Court Judge Robert D. Mariani imposed the sentence Wednesday.
Six other people have been convicted in connection with the investigation: Edwin Tejeda, 31, of Wilkes-Barre, pleaded guilty to conspiring to distribute cocaine and fentanyl resulting in death; Jose Raymer Tejeda, 37, of Wilkes-Barre, pleaded guilty to conspiring to distribute cocaine and fentanyl resulting in death; Emilio Tejeda, 33, of Wilkes-Barre, pleaded guilty to conspiring to distribute fentanyl; James Garris Jr., 52, of Wilkes-Barre, pleaded guilty to distributing fentanyl that resulted in death; Kearon Brinson, 41, of West Nanticoke, pleaded guilty to conspiring to distribute fentanyl and marijuana; and Lamont Hubbard, 50, of Plymouth, pleaded guilty to conspiring to distribute fentanyl and marijuana.
All six men are in custody while they await sentencing.
Details emerge in fatal Nanticoke shooting
NANTICOKE — State police have released more information about the man arrested on Friday and charged with shooting his father to death inside the father’s South Prospect Street home.
In addition to the charges of criminal homicide and reckless endangerment, 30-year-old Kevin Novak has also been charged with six felony counts of discharging a firearm into an occupied structure in connection with the death of Richard Novak, 70, on Friday afternoon.
According to the criminal affidavit:
Officers from the Nanticoke City Police Department were the first to arrive on scene at 1205 S. Prospect St. around 3:45 p.m. Friday, after a call came in to Luzerne County 911 from an individual who said that his father had been shot by his brother, identified as Kevin Novak.
When police arrived at the scene, the victim’s wife came out and informed the responding officer that the victim had been shot.
The 911 caller directed officers to a back door, where Novak was located. Novak was unarmed when officers encountered him, but had bullets in his hand.
A pat-down was conducted, and no weapon was found on Novak, but he told police that the weapon was on his bed.
Novak told police that he and the victim had an argument and that the victim was threatening him, at which point Novak shot the victim.
The victim was identified as Richard Novak, Kevin’s father. Richard was found in the middle room of the first floor of his residence.
Responding officers observed that the victim had sustained multiple gunshot wounds to the upper body, and was pronounced dead by Luzerne County Coroner Frank Hacken.
The incident took place in the 1205 side of a double-block unit, with Kevin Novak living next door at 1207 S. Prospect St.
Shell casings were observed on the floor in the room where the victim was found. The casings were determined to be .40 caliber.
A spent round was found embedded in the floorboard beneath the victim, indicating to officers that the victim was shot while lying on the ground, according to the affidavit.
An elderly relative of the Novaks, identified in a state police press release as 94-year-old Genevieve Roake, was seated behind the victim in the living room during the shooting, but was unharmed.
A search of the 1207 side of the double-block was conducted, with investigators locating a Smith and Wesson .40 caliber semi-automatic handgun under the edge of the bed. The gun was registered to Kevin Novak.
A spent shell casing consistent with the shells found at the crime scene next door was located in the doorway to the bedroom where the gun was recovered.
An open handgun box was found on the floor of the bedroom closet, and an open box of .40 caliber ammunition was located next to the handgun box, with several bullets missing.
State police reports indicate that Novak was arraigned in front of Magisterial District Judge Donald Whittaker and committed to the Luzerne County Correctional Facility without bail.
Court records available Saturday did not indicate when Novak’s preliminary hearing will take place
Autopsy scheduled Monday for Nanticoke man fatally shot
Denise Allabaugh - Citizens Voice
An autopsy for a 70-year-old Nanticoke man who was fatally shot Friday is scheduled for Monday morning with Dr. Charles Siebert, Luzerne County Coroner Frank Hacken said Saturday.
Kevin Novak, 30, is charged with criminal homicide for the fatal shooting of his father, Richard Novak, 70, at 1205 Prospect St. in Nanticoke, state police said.
Nanticoke police responded after Luzerne County 911 received a call that there was a shooting at the double-block home. State police reported the shooting followed an argument between the father and son.
According to the police criminal complaint, police observed Richard Novak was deceased with multiple gunshot wounds. The victim was shot multiple times in the upper body with a .40 caliber semi-automatic handgun, police said.
Police observed shell casings on the floor and a round was embedded in the floorboard underneath the victim, indicating he was shot while lying on the ground.
Police found the handgun under a bed at Kevin Novak’s residence next door in the double-block home at 1207 Prospect St.
Kevin Novak was arraigned by Magisterial District Judge Donald Whittaker Friday night and he was jailed in Luzerne County Correctional Facility without bail.
He also is charged with recklessly endangering another person because a 94-year-old woman, who was not injured, also was present during the shooting, police said.
Nanticoke man charged in dad’s shooting death
NANTICOKE — A South Prospect Street man was arrested in connection with the shooting death of his father Friday afternoon following an argument at the father’s home in the city.
Kevin Novak, 30, faces a charge of criminal homicide in connection with the death of Richard Novak, 70. He also faces a charge of recklessly endangering another person related to Genevieve Roake, 94, a relative who was inside the home and being cared for by the family, Luzerne County District Attorney Sam Sanguedolce said Friday night. Roake was uninjured, state police said.
According to a PSP public information release, Nanticoke City Police were dispatched to a home in the 1200 block of South Prospect at about 3:45 p.m. for a report of a shooting which had followed an argument. Kevin Novak, who lives next door in the double-block home, was taken into custody upon arrival.
State police were asked to take over the investigation and the Troop P Major Case Team responded to the scene.
Novak was arraigned before District Judge Donald Whittaker in Nanticoke and committed to the Luzerne County Correctional Facility without bail pending further proceedings.
Man, 30, charged in fatal shooting of father in Nanticoke
Bob Kalinowski – Citizens Voice
A Nanticoke man fatally shot his father Friday afternoon at a home in the city following a dispute, state police at Wilkes-Barre said in a press release.
Kevin Novak, 30, is charged with criminal homicide for the fatal shooting of his father, Richard Novak, 70, at 1205 S. Prospect St.
He was arraigned Friday night by Magisterial District Judge Donald Whittaker, who jailed Kevin Novak in the Luzerne County Correctional Facility without bail.
State police said the shooting followed an argument between the father and son, and investigators learned Kevin Novak, who lives next door at 1207 S. Prospect St., retrieved a pistol and shot Richard Novak.
Kevin Novak was taken into custody by Nanticoke City police after the shooting was reported around 3:45 p.m.
State police then took over the investigation, launching its Major Case Team.
Police said Kevin Novak is also charged with recklessly endangering another person because a 94-year-old woman, who was not injured, was also present during the shooting.
Evicted woman accused of shutting off electric and furnace pleads guilty to defiant trespass
WILKES-BARRE — Prosecutors withdrew a reckless endangerment charge and amended a trespass charge against a woman accused by Nanticoke police of turning off electrical service and furnace to an apartment.
Melissa Ann Brown, 40, address listed as East Green Street, Nanticoke, pled guilty to misdemeanor defiant trespass during a preliminary hearing in Luzerne County Central Court on Wednesday.
Brown had been charged with a felony criminal trespass charge.
According to court records, police charged Brown after the property owner of an apartment building claimed she repeatedly entered the basement and turned off electrical service and a furnace after she was evicted.
Brown was sentenced to one year probation.
Nanticoke man arrested after second pursuit ends in park
PLYMOUTH TWP. — A Nanticoke man was arraigned Saturday on allegations he initiated two pursuits with state police at Wilkes-Barre with the last chase ending in a park.
Joseph John Clark, 39, of East Main Street, first fled a trooper during a traffic stop on West End Road in Hanover Township, and about one hour later attempted to flee another stop damaging three cruisers, according to court records.
The pursuits and Clark’s arrest happened Thursday.
According to the criminal complaints:
A state police trooper stopped Clark on West End Road at 3:23 p.m. During the traffic stop, Clark identified himself as Joseph Bass and gave an incorrect date of birth.
Clark refused to exit his vehicle and sped away at a high rate of speed nearly striking the trooper, the complaint says.
Clark allegedly passed several vehicles while driving on the berm of the roadway.
As Clark sped away, state police learned Clark’s cellular phone number.
A trooper sent Clark a text message using another name asking to meet at the Canal Street Park in West Nanticoke, Plymouth Township.
Clark agreed to meet at 4 p.m.
When Clark pulled into the park driving a 1990 Dodge Ram pickup truck, he stated, “This is a set up” when he observed state police cruisers approaching him.
Clark attempted to flee the park as troopers conducted several PIT maneuvers to stop him, the complaint says.
After approximately two minutes of attempting to escape the maneuvers, Clark abandoned his truck when it became disabled. He was tackled after a 60-yard foot chase, according to the complaints.
A search warrant was executed on Clark’s truck resulting in the discovery of a 9mm semi-automatic pistol loaded with 10 rounds, the complaints say.
Clark allegedly told troopers a friend left the firearm in his truck and also claimed a friend gave him the firearm he used for self protection.
Clark is prohibited from carrying, owning and possessing a firearm due to a 2005 burglary conviction. He was also wanted by the Monroe County Sheriff’s Department.
Clark was arraigned by District Judge Michael Dotzel in Wilkes-Barre Township on a total of three counts of fleeing or attempting to elude police, illegal possession of a firearm, carrying a loaded weapon, reckless endangerment, resisting arrest, false identification to law enforcement, two counts of driving with a suspended license, and several traffic violations. He remained jailed Monday at the Luzerne County Correctional Facility for lack of $200,000 total bail.
Former Nanticoke school board member enters probation program in nude recording case
Bob Kalinowski – Citizens Voice
A former Greater Nanticoke Area School Board member will spend the next two years in the Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition program for secretly recording nude images of a woman who was living in his Nanticoke home.
Matthew J. Landmesser was accepted into the program for first-time offenders during a brief appearance Monday before Luzerne County President Judge Michael Vough.
Vough told Landmesser the charge would be dismissed from his record if he successfully completes the probationary program. Likewise, if he does not complete the program, prosecutors can pursue the charges in court, Vough said.
Landmesser, 43, did not address the court during the hearing except for telling the judge he understood the proceedings and he wanted to enter the ARD program.
Prior to a scheduled preliminary hearing in July, Landmesser and his attorney announced plans to apply for the ARD.
Landmesser’s alleged victim did not appear in court on Monday.
Police said Landmesser had been working as a Luzerne County Children and Youth caseworker when he met the victim as a sixth-grade student. For several years leading up to the charges, the victim had been staying at Landmesser’s home at 400 E. Union St. — although she described their relationship as only a friendship.
Police said the woman found the secret cameras in January 2021, some of which were set up in the living room where she slept and changed clothes, police said. A subsequent police investigation turned up images of the woman naked as well as footage of Landmesser smelling her clothing, trying on one of her bras and “having sex on her couch with her clothes and blankets,” police said.
He faced a single misdemeanor charge of invasion of privacy after police dropped a felony count when he waived his right to a preliminary hearing.
For months, Landmesser ignored calls by fellow board members to resign after he stopped showing up to meetings. His seat expired at the end of December.
Nanticoke man charged with endangerment by firing handgun
NANTICOKE — City police filed charges against a man accused of discharging a round from a handgun while confronting a a group of people near his residence last month.
Brandon J. Trotvitch, 34, of West Church Street, Nanticoke, yelled to three men and a woman “Get the hell out of here,” and fired a shot in the air on Dec. 14, according to court records.
One of the victims lives on Line Street near Trotvitch.
According to the criminal complaint:
Trotvitch’s neighbor stopped at his residence on Line Street to pick up items as he was staying at a residence in Berwick.
As he was gathering items, he told police Trotvitch confronted them, yelling, “Get outta here!” the complaint says.
Trotvitch fired a round as the neighbor and his friends drove down the street.
The driver reversed the car to ask Trotvitch what he was doing.
Trotvitch then aimed the handgun at the group telling them, “Get the hell out of here,” the complaint says.
During an interview with police, Trotvitch denied he aimed the handgun at the group.
Police recovered a 9mm shell casing in the area where the shooting occurred and seized a Taurus 9mm handgun hidden in a garbage can inside a residence on West Church Street, the complaint says.
Trotvitch is facing four counts of simple assault, and one count each of terroristic threats, recklessly endangering another person, disorderly conduct and discharge of a firearm in a prohibited area. The charges were filed Wednesday with District Judge Donald Whittaker in Nanticoke and mailed to Trotvitch.
A preliminary hearing is scheduled on Feb. 23 in Luzerne County Central Court.
Police: Evicted tenant retaliates by turning off heat, electricity
NANTICOKE — A woman was charged with endangering another person by turning off electrical service and furnace to an apartment.
City police charged Melissa Ann Brown, 40, of East Green Street, with reckless endangerment and criminal trespass. She was arraigned Thursday by District Judge Joseph Halesey in Hanover Township and jailed at the Luzerne County Correctional Facility for lack of $20,000 bail.
According to the criminal complaint:
The property owner/landlord of an apartment building on East Green street told police Dec. 22 he gave Brown, a tenant, an eviction notice.
In retaliation, Brown went to the basement and switched off breakers at the electrical panel turning off electrical service to an occupied second floor apartment. Brown resided on the first floor of the building.
The owner secured the basement door with screws preventing Brown from entering the basement.
Despite the basement door being screwed shut, police in the complaint say Brown continually found her way inside the basement to turn off electrical service to the second floor apartment.
Police advised Brown not to enter the basement.
On Thursday, the property owner called police with the same complaint alleging Brown turned off electrical service and furnace for the occupied second floor apartment.
The property owner claimed there was no heat for the second floor apartment the entire night when temperatures were below 30 degrees, endangering the tenants, the complaint says.
Police: Nanticoke man sent explicit photos to girl
NEWPORT TWP. — Township police and detectives from Luzerne County arrested a Nanticoke man Monday after he allegedly sent sexually explicit photos of himself to an underage girl.
Brandon Joseph Smith, 26, was taken into custody after he confessed to exchanging several explicit messages with the 13-year-old victim, according to police paperwork.
According to the criminal complaint:
Investigators received a complaint on Monday regarding a 26-year-old male that had been having inappropriate contact with a minor female. The complaint was filed by the victim’s legal guardian.
The guardian discovered, through a routine check of the victim’s mobile device, that there was an ongoing, sexually inappropriate conversation with the male, identified by the legal guardian as Smith. The messages were exchanged over Facebook Messenger and through text messages, all of which were shown to the investigators.
In the messages, Smith guesses that the victim is somewhere around 12 or 13 years of age, which the victim verified. Smith allegedly asked “Ur 13, I’m 2x ur age 26, is that a problem,” and, in another message, asked the victim “ur the only person reading, right.”
Despite knowing the victim was underage, Smith sent multiple explicit images of his genitals to her, and offered the victim cash and gifts in exchange for nude photos and sex acts from her.
According to the complaint, Smith tried to arrange a meeting between himself and the victim at an unspecified location in Nanticoke.
On Monday, Smith was interviewed by investigators at the Newport Township Police Department, where he agreed to waive his Miranda rights.
He told the officers that he did have the explicit conversations with the victim, but claimed that he was taking too much Adderall to remember the specifics of the conversations.
Smith also confessed that he had shown the text messages to his girlfriend’s sister, who advised him to “squash” the conversation.
He was arraigned on Monday night in front of Magisterial District Judge Joseph D. Zola.
The charges filed against Smith include criminal solicitation of a person less than 16 years of age, statutory sexual assault, corruption of minors, child pornography and criminal use of a communications facility — all felony offenses.
Smith was denied bail by Judge Zola, who cited the seriousness of the charges as one of his reasons, while also deeming Smith a danger to the community and referring to his prior criminal history.
A preliminary hearing is scheduled for Jan. 12.
Nanticoke man faces child pornography charges
A cyber-tip generated from the social media platform Snapchat and sent to Luzerne County detectives led to the arrest of a Nanticoke man on 15 counts of possession of child pornography.
Charles James Mort Jr., 23, of Nanticoke was arraigned Monday afternoon on an assortment of sex abuse charges after investigators found more than 10 videos and images depicting child sexual abuse materials on his mobile device, according to the criminal complaint filed against Mort.
According to the complaint:
Investigators from the Luzerne County District Attorney’s Office received a pair of tips from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children on March 1, 2022, generated by Snapchat.
Both tips involved Snapchat accounts with the same email address uploading videos containing suspected child sexual abuse material, first on Jan. 28 and the second tip on Jan. 30. The videos depict a pre-pubescent female performing a sexual act, according to the complaint.
Investigators were able to obtain information on the IP address tied into the two tips, and traced it to a West Church Street address in Nanticoke.
Through records from the Department of Transportation, detectives were able to identify two occupants of the residence, including Charles Mort, whose first name was used in both of the Snapchat usernames identified in the cyber-tips, and his date of birth matched one of the tips.
On Dec. 15, investigators went to the residence and made contact with a brother of Mort, who provided Mort’s name and date of birth, both of which matched the cyber-tip. An email address provided for Mort was also similar to the email address cited in the cyber-tip.
Later that day, detectives were able to speak with Mort at his place of employment. Mort told the detectives that he was aware of their investigation, and would be willing to speak with investigators.
He was read his Constitutional warnings and signed a form allowing investigators to record and videotape his statement.
According to the police report, Mort admitted to creating the two Snapchat accounts contained in the cyber-tips, as well as creating the email address contained in the tips.
He further admitted to coming across child sexual abuse material on Snapchat and another unnamed social media platform, and that he would receive hyperlinks from unknown individuals containing child sexual abuse material.
Mort admitted to disseminating videos and images containing the material, and that he would save the links on his mobile device.
He told detectives that he had been looking at child sexual abuse material for “two or three” years, and that investigators would find between 15 and 20 images and/or videos containing the material on his phone.
After obtaining a search warrant for Mort’s phone, detectives found more than 10 videos and several images of children engaging in sex acts on the mobile device. Some of the videos, according to the police report, indicate that Mort has been downloading and viewing child sex abuse material since 2015.
Mort was arraigned in front of Magisterial District Judge Thomas F. Malloy on Monday and charged with 15 counts of possession of child pornography, two counts of dissemination of photo or film depicting child sex acts and one count of criminal use of a communications facility.
He was lodged at the Luzerne County Correctional Facility for failure to post $75,000 in bail. A preliminary hearing is scheduled for Dec. 28.
Detectives: Nanticoke man viewed child pornography for years prior to recent Snapchat upload
Bob Kalinowski – Citizens Voice
A 23-year-old Nanticoke man downloaded, viewed and possessed child pornography since at least 2015, Luzerne County detectives said in arrest papers filed Monday.
Charles James Mort Jr. of West Church Street was arrested after authorities determined he uploaded a video of a nude young girl to the social media site, Snapchat, police said in arrest papers.
Authorities say the investigation led them to Mort’s home and he agreed to speak to police.
Mort told investigators he started getting interested in child pornography depicting both girls and boys several years ago after watching a video of an adult male sexually assaulting a baby boy, according to arrest papers.
Police said an examination of Mort’s cell phone determined he possessed at least 10 videos and several images of child sexual abuse.
Mort said he knew it was wrong to possess and view child pornography images and videos on his phone, but he has “seen worse,” according to arrest papers.
Mort was arraigned before Magisterial District Judge Thomas Malloy in Wilkes-Barre. Malloy ordered Mort jailed in the Luzerne County Correctional Facility in lieu of $75,000.
Fayette County man charged with molesting 2 sisters
James Halpin – Citizens Voice
A Fayette County man was jailed without bail Tuesday morning over allegations he sexually molested two young sisters in Luzerne County.
Christopher Michael Cornell, 26, of La Belle, is charged with sexually assaulting and raping the girls while he was staying with their family in Nanticoke and Laurel Run.
According to the complaint filed by state police and Luzerne County detectives, the assaults took place between March and September 2017 at homes on East Noble Street, Nanticoke, and in Laurel Run Estates. The alleged assaults came to light after the girls’ mother held an intervention with the younger girl to ask about behavioral issues, police said.
During questioning, Cornell initially denied molesting the girls but later admitted seeing the younger girl naked, police said. Cornell went on to admit sexual contact with the younger girl but maintained “it only happened one time,” according to the complaint.
Police charged Cornell with four counts of indecent assault of a child and two counts each of statutory sexual assault, corruption of minors and rape of a child.
Magisterial District Judge Donald L. Whittaker arraigned Cornell on the charges Tuesday morning and denied bail. Cornell was being held at the Luzerne County Correctional Facility with a preliminary hearing scheduled for Dec. 21.
Grand jury indicts former Nanticoke man for alleged COVID-19 relief fraud
Bob Kalinowski – Citizens Voice
A federal grand jury has indicted a former Nanticoke resident on allegations he and co-conspirators used stolen identities to obtain various COVID-19 pandemic relief loans administered by the Small Business Administration’s Paycheck Protection Program.
Reynard Lewis, 29, is charged with wire fraud conspiracy, wire fraud, aggravated identity theft, and identification, access device and false statement offenses, the U.S. The Attorney’s Office announced Thursday.
Lewis and co-conspirators are accused of using stolen identities to create forged identification documents and credit and debit cards.
The conspirators used those forged items and stolen identities to open bank accounts, apply for lines of credit and obtain retail merchandise, federal prosecutors allege.
Lewis and his co-conspirators received multiple PPP loans and submitted false federal tax documentation, authorities said.
The conspirators allegedly received over $100,000 in pandemic stimulus funds.
The Paycheck Protection Program was designed to help small businesses facing financial difficulties during the COVID-19 pandemic. Funded by the March 2020 CARES Act, PPP funds are offered in forgivable loans, provided that certain criteria are met, including use of the funds for employee payroll, mortgage interest, lease and utilities expenses.
Lewis previously was charged in a criminal complaint and arrested on Sept. 16. He has remained in detention since his arrest.
One of Lewis’s alleged co-conspirators, Robert Brownstein, 51, of Scranton, was previously charged in a criminal information with wire fraud conspiracy and aggravated identity theft, prosecutors said.
Nanticoke City Police Department
Time: 1622 hrs.
Location: 1 West Main Street
Incident Type: Shots Fired
The Nanticoke Police are investigating an incident of shots fired in the vicinity of 1 W. Main Street (Burger King). There were no injuries reported. Witnesses describe a dark colored vehicle (reported as black or blue) occupied by 2-3 males who were in the vicinity of 99 South Market Street. These individuals were involved in a verbal confrontation with 2 males who were on foot within the Burger King parking lot. As the verbal confrontation ensued, the vehicle fled the parking lot of 99 South Market Street firing several shots in the direction of the two males located at the Burger King, fleeing southbound on South Market Street. Anyone with information is asked to call the Nanticoke Police at 570-735-2200 or 570-819-4916.
Off-duty cop breaks up armed robbery in Wilkes-Barre
James Halpin – Citizens Voice
An off-duty Nanticoke police officer interrupted a knife-point robbery in Wilkes-Barre on Tuesday morning and detained the suspect until city police arrived, according to court documents.
Kevin T. Shaver, 37, of 445 E. South St., Wilkes-Barre, was arrested after Detective Sgt. Chad Southern broke up a robbery in progress at the Paris Mart, 465 Hazle St., shortly after 8 a.m.
According to the complaint, Shaver, a regular at the convenience store, approached the counter with a Mountain Dew but did not have enough money to complete the purchase. Shaver then walked away and came back with a lollipop, which he bought.
Shaver moved away but then came back to the register a third time, telling the clerk to open the register, police said.
The clerk said she couldn’t open the register without a purchase and told him to leave, prompting Shaver to extend an arm covered by a jacket sleeve in her direction, saying he didn’t want to hurt her, according to police.
Southern, who was off duty, observed the interaction and then announced himself as a police officer.
Shaver removed a green folding knife from his pocket and surrendered, police said.
City police arrived to find Southern holding the knife and Shaver kneeling on the floor.
Police charged Shaver with attempted robbery, attempted terroristic threats, attempted theft, disorderly conduct and defiant trespassing.
Magisterial District Judge Rick Cronauer arraigned Shaver on the charges Tuesday afternoon and set bail at $20,000.
Shaver was being held at the Luzerne County Correctional Facility with a preliminary hearing scheduled for Dec. 6.
Nanticoke mom convicted of smothering son who interrupted sex
James Halpin – Citizens Voice
A Nanticoke woman accused of smothering her asthmatic son with a pillow for interrupting her from having sex in a Wilkes-Barre hotel room was convicted during a bench trial this week of strangulation and related offenses.
Sharon Wallace, 39, was accused of holding a pillow over her son’s face for about three minutes during a stay at Wilkes-Barre Inn & Suites at 880 Kidder St. in November 2020.
Following a one-day bench trial Tuesday, Luzerne County Judge David W. Lupas found Wallace guilty of a felony count of strangulation and misdemeanor counts of simple assault and endangering the welfare of a child.
Assistant District Attorney Shana Messinger prosecuted the case.
According to the charges, Wallace contacted Luzerne County Children and Youth Services in November 2020 asking for assistance because she and her son were homeless, and the agency paid for them to stay at the Kidder Street hotel for three nights prior to the child entering foster care.
The complaint alleges the boy, who has asthma and attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, reported that Wallace put a pillow over his face “after he intervened with his mother while she was having sex.” In a statement to authorities, the boy reported Wallace held the pillow for about three minutes during which he was screaming and crying.
The boy also alleged Wallace held her hand over his nose and mouth to keep him quiet and that he was unable to breathe.