West Nanticoke man gets up to 10 years for
James Halpin - Citizens Voice
A West Nanticoke man accused of robbing a man during a comic book sale
was sentenced Friday to serve up to 10 years in prison.
Joshua Ruchinski, 27, was ordered to serve five to 10 years in prison
for robbery, as well as for a count of theft in a separate case. Luzerne
County Judge Michael T. Vough imposed the sentence, ordering Ruchinski
to pay nearly $1,500 in restitution. Prosecutors alleged Ruchinski pulled
out a knife and demanded money as he sat with a Shickshinny man in a
car parked in front of a Slope Street home where Ruchinski said the
comic books were stored.
When the man resisted, Ruchinski pulled out a gun and again demanded
money, prosecutors said. The man continued to resist, so Ruchinski grabbed
the mans car keys and cellphone and ran off, according to prosecutors.
Vough ordered Ruchinski sent to state prison as soon as possible.
Nanticoke duo arraigned on drug charges
The Nanticoke police have refiled the case against Kenneth Edward
Powell and Courtney Claire Padden, attorneys say.
Powell, 30, and Padden, 26, had a preliminary arraignment Wednesday
on drug charges stemming from a search warrant following a shooting
on Dec. 8, of which Powell was the victim.
The pair previously had a preliminary arrangement, but Padden's attorney,
Peter Moses, said there were motions made because the police department
didn't have a prima facie case.
"The commonwealth decided to refile," Moses admitted.
According to the criminal complaint:
Members of the Luzerne County Drug Task Force, along with police from
Nanticoke and Newport Township, executed a search warrant for Powell's
East Spring Street residence at approximately 9:45 a.m. on Dec. 9.
Neither Powell nor his girlfriend, Padden, were at the home when the
Investigators allege that during the search, multiple items of contraband
were seized, including large bags of suspected marijuana "well
beyond what would be held for personal use." Cannabis liquid,
digital scales and a bag of THC candy was also taken from the resident.
THC is the active ingredient found in marijuana. A total of $12,950
in cash was recovered from the residence, which investigators believed
was attained through drug sales.
Court papers indicated Powell and Padden were each arraigned before
District Judge Donald Whittaker on charges of manufacture, delivery
or possession with intent; conspiracy to manufacture; possession of
a controlled substance; and use or possession of drug paraphernalia.
Moses said Padden was released on personal recognizance, and court
papers indicate Powell was released under the same conditions.
The duo will have a preliminary hearing on at 1 p.m. March 29 at a
district judge's office to be announced because Whittaker has already
heard the case and has rescued himself.
Efforts to reach Powell's attorney, Joseph F. Sklarosky Sr., were
Woman accused of Nanticoke stabbing waives
charges to county court
Javari Gantt-Brown is accused of stabbing a man during a dispute
over property in December.
Gantt-Brown, however, claims the incident was a matter of self-defense.
Gantt-Brown, of Hanover Township, appeared for a preliminary hearing
before District Judge Donald Whittaker on Wednesday. Gantt-Brown,
who identifies as a woman, waived her charges of aggravated assault,
simple assault, disorderly conduct and harassment.
Police were waved down around 8:30 p.m. on Dec. 29 by a group of individuals
in the area of South Prospect and East Ridge street, near the city
Police said an an argument broke out between Brown and victim Jermail
Stanley, who tried to intervene in a scuffle over property near the
fire department on East Ridge Street. Brown allegedly charged at Stanley
with a knife. Stanley retreated backward but Brown charged again,
allegedly stabbing Stanley, causing an injury.
Gantt-Brown told a reporter at her hearing Wednesday that she had
several disputes with four other people leading up to the incident.
She claimed that at one point, she was confronted by four people with
knives as she attempted to remove her property from a residence on
West Ridge Street.
I feared for my life, she said.
Gantt-Brown said the people continued to harass her as she worked
to get the property out of the residence, and even had police officers
at the nearby municipal building watch as she got the property.
Gantt-Brown said thats when four people two men and two
woman charged after her, and she defended herself with a pocket
Fred Heller, a friend of Gantt-Browns, said he tried to pick
her up that night. He said that she told him at the time that she
was being threatened by people.
She was so hysterical and scared, Heller said.
When police took Brown into custody, she began to struggle. Officers
were able to secure Brown against the patrol car until they attempted
to put handcuffs on her. Brown then fled down a ramp which lead into
the police station. It was there that officers were able to take her
Gantt-Brown is scheduled for a formal arraignment in the Luzerne County
Courthouse at 10 a.m. on June 1. After hearing a brief argument from
Gantt-Browns attorney Allyson Leigh Kacmarski, Whittaker reduced
Gantt-Browns bail to $25,000 unsecured.
Trio indicted on federal drug-trafficking
James Halpin - Citizens Voice
Three Luzerne County residents have been indicted by a federal grand
jury on drug-trafficking charges.
Edirso De Leon Frias, 25, of Nanticoke; Nathaniel Murphy, 41; and
Roy Seabrook, 43, both of Wilkes-Barre, are accused of conspiring
to distribute heroin, according to the U.S. Attorneys Office.
Prosecutors say De Leon Frias distributed more than 100 grams of heroin,
the equivalent of about 4,000 doses.
If convicted, the defendants face up to 20 years in prison, according
The case, investigated by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration,
was brought as part of an initiative to combat a nationwide heroin
epidemic, prosecutors said.
Police asking for help in identifying
man allegedly using counterfeit bills
Police described the suspect as average
height and weight with short hair, mustache and thin beard. The
male wore a blue shirt with a Superman logo and blue jeans
Police are asking for the publics help in identifying
a man who used counterfeit bills to purchase hair products.
According to police, around 5:40 p.m. Thursday, a man purchased
$29.75 worth of hair care products with a fake $100 bill at
the CVS Pharmacy on East Main Street.
The suspect is described as average height and weight with short
hair, mustache and thin beard. The male wore a blue shirt with
a Superman logo and blue jeans.
Police say he may have a tattoo that can be observed on his
lower right forearm.
Anyone with information is asked to contact city police at 570-735-2200,
extension 206 or 216.
Death of 9-day-old infant still under investigation
An investigation into the November death of a 9-day-old girl is continuing,
Nanticoke Police Chief Thomas Wall said Thursday.
In December, Wall told the Times Leader that officers were dispatched
to an East Union Street residence Nov. 20 after a report of an unresponsive
infant. First responders attempted CPR on the baby, and she was taken
to Geisinger Wyoming Valley in Plains Township, where she was pronounced
Wall said Thursday that officers are awaiting toxicology and other results
on the infant, whose name has not been released. Wall declined to comment
further, citing the active investigation.
Autopsies are routinely performed in infant deaths, according to officials
at the Luzerne County Coroners Office. No one has been charged
in the 9-day-olds death.
The infants mother, Sydney Simon, 26, declined to comment Thursday
about her daughters case, citing instructions from her attorney.
That attorney, Timothy Thomas Vancosky, could not be reached for comment.
In an unrelated case, Simon was arraigned Dec. 29 on charges she had
controlled substances in her possession while she was in the Luzerne
County prison on a domestic violence charge stemming from a Dec. 18
incident. The domestic charge has since been dismissed.
According to a court docket, Simon pleaded guilty to a single charge
of use or possession of drug paraphernalia in connection with the possession
case, in which prison officials said they found a bag hidden in her
bra that contained controlled substances.
Police said that inside the bag was one empty capsule of Adderall, one
Tramadol, 34 capsules of Klonopin and one Flexeril.
Court dockets indicate she was sentenced to one year of probation on
Court panel rejects jailed Nanticoke mans
James Halpin - Citizens Voice
A three-judge panel of the state Superior Court on Tuesday rejected
the appeal of a Nanticoke man serving time in prison on vehicular
James Novis, 41, is serving seven to 14 years in state prison after
pleading guilty in November 2015 to charges related to the crash that
killed Cherri L. Hummel.
Prosecutors say Novis was driving drunk on May 4, 2013, when he ran
off state Route 29 in Lehman Township, vaulted over an embankment
and crashed into another embankment 45 feet away. Novis blood-alcohol
level was between .12 and .126 percent within two hours of the crash,
and evidence showed he had been driving at 83 mph in a 50 mph zone
before losing control of the car, according to prosecutors.
Novis appealed the sentence imposed by Luzerne County Judge Tina Polachek
Gartley on grounds she failed to consider his remorse.
The judges Tuesday found Novis claims lack merit
and that Gartley imposed an appropriate sentence.
Alleged rapist charged with child porn possession
A city man already awaiting trial on a rape charge now faces child
pornography charges as well.
Police on Wednesday charged Christopher Bates, 43, with possession
of child pornography and criminal use of a communication facility,
According to a police affidavit:
Officers seized Bates Nokia cellphone during an investigation
that led to rape charges being filed against him in November 2016.
Bates consented to a search of the phone, according to police. Officers
conducted a forensic analysis of the phone, which revealed two digital
images of nude female juveniles that were saved to the phone from
two separate websites in February 2015.
A preliminary hearing on the charges filed Wednesday is scheduled
for Feb. 15 before Magisterial District Judge Donald Whittaker.
Bates is in Luzerne County Correctional Facility awaiting a formal
arraignment March 10 on the rape charge in county court.
Police: Man charged after attacking girlfriend
A city man is facing charges after police say he attacked his girlfriend.
Police responded at 10:01 p.m. Sunday to 78 W. Broad St., after a
caller said she was pushed by her boyfriend, according to a criminal
The complaint said Michael Mattey met officers at the door, and told
them Michael Gabriel, 62, pushed his mother, Laura Mattey, down to
the floor, causing her head to hit the wall.
According to the complaint:
Once inside the residence, police found Laura in the bedroom holding
her head and crying. Laura said she needed medication before going
to bed and then knocked on Gabriels door, but he refused to
answer. Michael forced the bedroom door open to get her medication.
Gabriel became angry and began to argue with Laura. During the argument,
Gabriel grabbed Laura by the arms and threw her to the floor.
Officers observed a black and blue bruise on the side of Lauras
Gabriel told officers Michael was overreacting and that Laura punched
him in the mouth.
Police charged Gabriel with assault and harassment. After an arrangement
with District Judge Donald Whittaker, Gabriel was lodged at Luzerne
County Correctional Facility in lieu of $50,000 bail. He is scheduled
for a preliminary hearing 10 a.m. Feb. 8 in front of Whittaker.
Suspect in Nanticoke mans murder remains
on the run
James Halpin - Citizens Voice
The hunt continued Friday for the man accused of shooting another
man dead earlier this week.
Antoine William McNeal, 32, of Wilkes-Barre, is wanted on murder charges
alleging he shot and killed 20-year-old Brandon Smith outside Smiths
home on West Church Street in Nanticoke about 2 a.m. Wednesday.
According to police, the men got into an argument that resulted in
McNeal shooting Smith several times. Smith died about an hour later
at Geisinger Wyoming Valley Medical Center in Plains Township.
McNeal remained on the lam Friday, with police saying he is considered
armed and dangerous.
We are still actively search(ing) for McNeal, state police
spokesman Trooper Tom Kelly said in a statement.
Court records show McNeal has a checkered past involving several drug
Most recently, he served a 21 to 42 month prison sentence imposed
by Luzerne County Judge Fred A. Pierantoni III in three separate cases.
In the summer of 2012, McNeal was hit with drug-trafficking charges
after selling an undercover state troopers informant heroin,
court records show. A search of his home turned up 191 packets of
heroin, 16 baggies of cocaine and some marijuana, police alleged.
Next, McNeal was arrested in April 2013 after Wilkes-Barre police
pulled over a car with an expired registration and he lied about his
name, according to court records.
Then in November 2014, McNeal was caught unloading trash from a vehicle
into a dumpster at the Interfaith Heights Apartments. McNeal gave
a fake name and reeked of marijuana, police alleged. Officers
found him in possession of a bag of marijuana, police said.
Court records show McNeal pleaded guilty to charges of dealing heroin
and lying about his identity to police, with other counts being dismissed.
After being sentenced in April 2015 getting credit for about
a half-year time served McNeal made parole May 3, according
to the state Department of Corrections.
McNeal was previously sentenced to serve up to 23 months in the Luzerne
County Correctional Facility after pleading guilty to drug-trafficking
conspiracy in a 2006 crack-distribution case.
Court records also show that ABC Bail Bonds won a $1,342 civil judgment
against McNeal and his wife last August. According to the complaint,
the company agreed to post bond in one of McNeals cases for
a $2,200 fee but he only paid $1,000.
The charges state police filed against McNeal on Thursday include
criminal homicide, illegal weapons possession, criminal use of a communication
facility and evidence tampering.
Anyone with information about McNeals whereabouts is asked
to call state police at Wyoming at 570-697-2000.
Suspect named in Nanticoke murder
Eric Mark - Citizens Voice
Police have named a suspect in the murder of a Nanticoke man early
Antoine McNeal, 32, of Wilkes-Barre, shot and killed 20-year-old Brandon
Smith outside Smiths home on West Church Street in Nanticoke
at 2 a.m. Wednesday, police allege.
Police obtained an arrest warrant against McNeal on Thursday. He had
not been located as of Thursday night and is considered armed and
dangerous, police said.
According to police, Smith and McNeal got into an altercation that
resulted in McNeal shooting Smith several times.
An autopsy conducted Thursday morning determined that Smith died of
multiple gunshot wounds inflicted during a homicide, according to
the Luzerne County Coroners Office.
McNeal faces charges of homicide, illegal weapons possession, criminal
use of a communication facility and evidence tampering, according
to court records.
Anyone with information about McNeal or his whereabouts is asked to
call state police at Wyoming at 570-697-2000.
One man killed in early-morning shooting
A 20-year-old man was killed in a shooting early Wednesday morning.
Sources said the shooting happened at approximately 2 a.m. in the
area of 185 West Church St. The victim, identified as Brandon Smith,
suffered multiple gunshot wounds, according to officials.
Smith was taken to Geisinger Wyoming Valley Medical Center, where
he was pronounced dead.
It is believed Smith knew the shooter. However, police have not made
Officials said they believe the shooting was drug-related.
Officials from the Pennsylvania State Police in Wyoming, the Luzerne
County District Attorneys Office, and the Nanticoke Police Department
The shooting marks the second in Nanticoke in the past month, and
the second homicide in Luzerne County in 2017.
In December, Kenneth Powell was shot when a physical altercation spilled
into the street. Powell and his girlfriend, Courtney Padden, were
subsequently charged after investigators allegedly found numerous
drugs and drug paraphernalia inside his residence.
On Jan. 12, Keith Williams was charged with homicide after he allegedly
shot a man in the chest with a shotgun after a dispute in Fairmount
A troubled home?
Residents throughout West Church Street said the house where the homicide
occurred has been known as a troubled spot.
Police were still on the scene at approximately 10:30 a.m. as tape
surrounded the residence. At one point, a small dog could be seen
peering out from a second-floor window of the residence before scurrying
A resident a few houses down from the scene, who declined to be identified,
said the residence has been known for riff-raff.
Resident Joe Damario also noted the houses troublesome history.
Damario, 36, was awakened by his dogs when police first arrived on
the scene. The porch of his residence directly overlooks the residence
at 185 West Church St.
Damario said verbal altercations are commonly heard outside of the
residence, and a lot of people tend to come and go without staying
As he looked at the scene hours after the incident, he said he was
happy his three children did not have to experience it on their way
I was thankful
they didnt have to walk through
that, he said.
Another longtime resident of the street speculated an ongoing drug
issue in the city contributed to the shooting. Other neighbors described
West Church Street as a quiet street with few problems.
Damario said that beyond drugs, absentee landlords who
rent residences to anybody without background checks contribute to
the violent behavior.
Damario speculated there was more to the shooting.
I think that had personal written all over it, he said.
Police seek suspect in Nanticoke robbery
- Citizens Voice
A man robbed the Cocoa Hut convenience store on East Main Street in
Nanticoke early Tuesday morning, according to police.
The robbery happened at about 4 a.m., according to Nanticoke police
Chief Thomas Wall.
A man walked into the store, told a cashier he had a gun and demanded
money, Wall said. The clerk took the drawer out of the register and
the man grabbed cash and left the store on foot. He was last seen on
Prospect Street, Wall said.
The man did not display a weapon during the robbery, according to Wall.
Nanticoke police and state police responded.
Police released video surveillance footage of the alleged robber on
Tuesday. He appears to be wearing pink sweatpants with the word Luzerne
on the left leg.
Anyone with information about the suspect or this crime is asked to
call Nanticoke police at 570-735-2200.