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The Nanticoke Police Department News report is a public service. The information is posted as soon as it is available from the information we gather and also from various local newspapers. We are not responsible for articles that are missed.

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The Times Leader or The Citizens Voice Newspapers
4/26/2017
Assault charges dismissed against man involved in fatal 2013 crash
Sarah Scinto - Citizens Voice

Assault charges against a man involved in a fatal 2013 crash were dismissed on Wednesday after the alleged victim declined to testify.
Tyler Duda, 20, will no longer face charges alleging he threatened his ex-girlfriend, Kaylee Grodzick,i with a knife, cut her finger and slashed the tires of a vehicle belonging to Imarl Daron Lee Wimbush.
Grodzicki declined to testify at Duda's preliminary hearing Wednesday before Magisterial District Judge Donald Whittaker. The judge dismissed the charges against Duda.
Duda previously served time on juvenile vehicular homicide charges stemming from a fatal crash in July 2013. Duda, 16 at the time, admitted to taking his mother’s car for a joyride and crashing into 59-year-old Nickolas Zurilla at 72 mph on a residential Nanticoke street, severing the man’s legs and torso before crashing into a house 467 feet from where Zurilla had been crossing the street.

4/21/2017
Police secure warrant for alleged school computer thief
mbuffer@citizensvoice.com

Nanticoke police have secured a warrant for Enrique Bacilio, 19, for allegedly stealing more than $30,000 worth of computers from Greater Nanticoke Area High School in June 2016.
Nanticoke police have secured an arrest warrant for a 19-year-old man accused of stealing computers valued at $33,174 from Greater Nanticoke Area High School in a June 2016 burglary, according to a police news release.
Enrique Bacilio, 19, is the suspect, and his last known address is 160 Midland Ct., Wilkes-Barre, police said. The burglary occurred between June 22 and June 23, 2016.
Bacilio is also wanted by the Luzerne County Sheriff’s Department for failing to appear in court relative to a May 2016 arrest in Nanticoke for simple assault, police said.
In June 2016, police reported someone broke into two classrooms on the west side of the high school by breaking a classroom window and took 30 laptop computers from each classroom, as well as one desktop computer. The laptop computers were “HP Probook 440 G1 Notebook” units. Officers also recovered evidence left at the crime scene, including an article of clothing and a pair of copper pliers.
Bacilio has lived in Texas, New York and Pennsylvania and may be in the Wilkes-Barre area, police said. Anyone with information about Bacilio’s whereabouts is asked to contact Nanticoke police at 570-735-2200 or the Luzerne County Sheriff’s Department by dialing 911.

4/20/2017
Nanticoke homicide suspect from January found in W-B, arraigned
Man wanted for shooting in Nanticoke

tkellar@timesleader.com - mmizenko@timesleader.com

Police have charged a Wilkes-Barre man with what they believe was a drug-related murder in Nanticoke.
Antoine William McNeal, 32, was taken into custody at 320 E. Northampton St. about noon Wednesday.
Wakeelah Nimat Moore lived at the East Northampton address where McNeal was located. Moore was arrested herself for hindering apprehension and drug offenses.
McNeal is accused of shooting 20-year-old Brandon Smith outside of a residence at 185 W. Church St. in Nanticoke on Jan. 18.
Smith, who died of multiple gunshot wounds, is believed to have known McNeal.
According to a criminal complaint:
Luzerne County 911 received a call around 2 a.m. Jan. 18 from Tina Letavish about the shooting. Smith was pronounced dead at 3 a.m. at Geisinger Wyoming Valley Medical Center.
Letavish, the victim's mother, told police Smith was texting on his flip phone on a couch near the front door when he went outside around 2 a.m. When he came back inside, he ran to the kitchen yelling "they shot me" before falling to the floor.
Investigators examining the phone found a text trail between Smith and an unknown number arranging what appeared to be a drug deal.
Police later met with Jacqulynn Moore, of South Hancock Street, Wilkes-Barre, who confirmed the unknown number belonged to her daughter, Wakeelah.
Wakeelah told police McNeal was her boyfriend and he was texting about receiving marijuana. She said she and McNeal drove to Nanticoke the night of the murder. Wakeelah, who was driving the car, parked on Fairchild Street. About two to three minutes later, McNeal told her "we gotta get out of here, they are shooting."
Wakeelah said she owned a .38-caliber revolver, but misplaced the firearm.
Police determined Smith was actually shot inside Letavish's white Chrysler Town and Country van.
Pot plants
U.S. Marshals, State Police, and Wilkes-Barre City police were seen going in and out of the East Northampton residence before bringing McNeal and Moore out in handcuffs.
Here's what authorities said happened when they knocked on the door of Moore's apartment late Wednesday morning:
Moore initially denied she knew where McNeal was.
But when officers told her there was an active warrant for him, she let them inside and they found McNeal hiding behind a bedroom door.
Officers also found six marijuana plants in the bedroom closet.
Moore later said McNeal called her Monday from a blocked number asking to come to her residence. He was there from 10 p.m. Monday until he was apprehended.
Moore also said the plants were hers but she was not selling marijuana.
Due to the homicide charge, McNeal was locked up with no bail at the Luzerne County Correctional Facility.
His preliminary hearing is set for 1 p.m. April 26.
Moore was sent to Luzerne's lockup for lack of $75,000 bail. She has a preliminary hearing 9 a.m. April 27 in front of District Judge Thomas Malloy in Wilkes-Barre.
Court records show McNeal has a history of drug convictions.
In 2008, he was sentenced to 11 to 23 months for pleading guilty to a criminal conspiracy charge.
He received a 21- to 41-month state prison term in April 2015 on one count of delivery of heroin and two counts of providing false identification to law enforcement. He was paroled May 5, 2016, records show.

4/20/2017
Woman arrested with Antoine McNeal charged with hindering law enforcement
mmizenko@timesleader.com

A woman arrested Wednesday with Antoine McNeal has been charged with hindering police and drug offenses.
Wakeelah Nimat Moore, of East Northampton Street, was arraigned in front of District Judge Donald Whittaker.
McNeal, 32, was arraigned by video earlier Wednesday on charges of criminal homicide and related counts. He is accused of shooting 20-year-old Brandon Smith outside a residence at 185 W. Church St. in Nanticoke on Jan. 18.
According to a criminal complaint:
Moore, 25, opened the door of her second-floor apartment at 11:25 a.m. Wednesday for State Police, U.S. Marshals and Wilkes-Barre City police. The officers were searching for McNeal.
When she was asked about McNeal's whereabouts, she told police "he is not here."
But when officers told her there was an active warrant for McNeal, she let them inside and they found McNeal hiding behind a bedroom door.
Officers also found six marijuana plants in the bedroom closet.
Both Moore and McNeal were taken to state police barracks in Wyoming, where Moore provided a statement.
She said McNeal called her Monday from a blocked number asking to come to her residence. He was there from 10 p.m. Monday until he was apprehended.
Moore also said the plants were hers but she was not selling marijuana.
Moore was sent to the Luzerne County Correctional Facility for lack of $75,000 bail. She has a preliminary hearing 9 a.m. April 27 in front of District Judge Thomas Malloy in Wilkes-Barre.

4/19/2017
Police arrest suspect in Nanticoke homicide from January
Breaking News, Local
tkellar@timesleader.com

Police have arrested a city man in connection with a fatal shooting that happened in Nanticoke in January.
Antoine William McNeal, 32, was taken into custody from 320 East Northampton St. shortly after noon Wednesday. He is accused of shooting 20-year-old Brandon Smith outside of a residence at 185 West Church St. in Nanticoke on Jan. 18.
U.S. Marshals, Pennsylvania State Police, and Wilkes-Barre City Police Department officials could be seen going in and out of the residence before bringing McNeal and a woman out in handcuffs.
Smith, who died of multiple gunshot wounds, is believed to have known McNeal prior to the shooting. Officials said they believe the homicide was drug-related.
Court records show McNeal has a history of drug convictions.
In 2008, he was sentenced to 11 to 23 months for pleading guilty to a criminal conspiracy charge.
He received a 21- to 41-month state prison sentence in April 2015 from Judge Fred A. Pierantoni III on one count of delivery of heroin and two counts of providing a false identification to a law enforcement officer. He was paroled May 5, 2016, records show.
McNeal is expected to be arraigned sometime today, Trooper Edward Urban said.

4/15/2017
Crash victim’s family questions leniency
James Halpin - Citizens Voice

Nearly four years after Tyler Duda ran down a Marine Corps veteran crossing the street, he made headlines again for another violent crime this week — and his first victim’s family still can’t believe the leniency he got last time.
“I said from day one he’s either going to harm someone again or kill someone,” said Nanticoke resident Diane Washik, the sister of 59-year-old victim Nickolas Zurilla. “They gave him a second chance, and he’s not even grateful for it.”
As a 16-year-old boy, Duda was charged as an adult with third-degree murder and faced up to 40 years in prison for plowing into Zurilla as he crossed a residential street in Nanticoke in July 2013. Duda, who had taken his mother’s car for a joyride, was doing 72 mph and severed Zurilla’s legs and torso before crashing into a house 467 feet away.
“This was a horrifying thing that happened to my brother,” Washik said. “He was severed and everything, and there’s no remorse from this kid. There’s no remorse at all.”
The possibility of Duda seeing significant prison time disappeared after Luzerne County Judge Lesa S. Gelb moved his case to juvenile court, saying Duda deserved a chance at rehabilitation and didn’t belong in a “criminal setting.”
Duda admitted guilt to vehicular homicide charges and Luzerne County Juvenile Court Judge William Amesbury sent him to the North Central Secure Treatment Unit, a juvenile detention center on the grounds of Danville State Hospital in Montour County.
During that time, Duda’s science teacher, 47-year-old Melissa A. Brindisi, was accused of having sex with him twice in a basement storage room, according to a report in The Sunbury Daily Item. Court records show Brindisi was later acquitted at trial on the charges.
Less than a year after being sent to the facility, Duda had a home pass to check out a Williamsport college. Although supervisors described Duda as “passive-aggressive” and “doing whatever he could do to annoy staff,” probation officers said during a March 2015 hearing they had no opposition to Duda getting “acclimated back into the community.”
Juvenile court records are secret, but Washik said she thought Duda ended up serving about a year and a half for the crime.
Duda, now 20, faces charges for a violent crime yet again in his young life following an incident Wednesday when he allegedly pulled a knife, accusing Imarl Daron Lee Wimbush of sleeping with his ex-girlfriend, Kaylee Grodzicki. Duda cut Grodzicki’s finger before slashing a tire on Wimbush’s car and pouring a beer into the vehicle in the Luzerne County Community College parking lot, according to police.
After police filed assault and harassment charges, Duda was released from the Luzerne County Correctional Facility on Thursday when his mother, Lori Ann Duda, posted $2,000 bail.
Lori Ann Duda did not immediately return a message seeking comment Friday.
Washik said Friday she was upset to hear about Duda’s new charges and that she feels “justice hasn’t been served from day one.” She questioned why Gelb was not more stern when dealing with Duda and said she thinks he should have gotten a much stiffer penalty.
“I don’t understand how this whole system could work like this. ... I just don’t understand how this kid is just walking around like this,” Washik said, saying she fears the system will again show leniency to Duda. “God forbid, I just hope somebody doesn’t get killed again.”
Gelb said Friday court rules prohibit her from commenting on the case.

4/14/2017
Man involved in fatal crash facing assault charges
sscinto@citizensvoice.com

Police charged a man involved in a fatal 2013 crash with assault after he allegedly threatened a woman with a knife.
Tyler Duda, 20, of Nanticoke faces charges of simple assault and harassment after a domestic dispute in the Luzerne County Community College parking lot on Wednesday, a criminal complaint states.
Duda previously served time on juvenile vehicular homicide charges stemming from a fatal crash in July 2013. Duda, 16 at the time, admitted to taking his mother’s car for a joyride and crashing into 59-year-old Nickolas Zurilla at 72 mph on a residential Nanticoke street, severing the man’s legs and torso before crashing into a house 467 feet from where Zurilla had been crossing the street.
After pleading guilty to those charges, Duda spent time in a juvenile treatment facility in Danville.
Nanticoke police said Duda got into an argument with Imarl Daron Lee Wimbush and Kaylee Grodzicki, Duda’s ex-girlfriend. Duda accused Grodzicki of sleeping with Wimbush, became “irate” and pulled out a knife, according to a criminal complaint.
Grodzicki told police she pushed Duda away and he pushed back, swinging the knife toward her. Duda’s knife cut Grodzicki’s left ring finger, police said.
The complaint states Duda then slashed the rear, driver’s side tire of Wimbush’s car and poured a beer into the vehicle. Wimbush and Grodzicki fled the area and called 911 from another location.
Police arrested Duda at his residence on Union Street. He was charged with simple assault, harassment and disorderly conduct and arraigned Thursday morning before Magisterial District Judge Joseph Halesey.
A preliminary hearing was scheduled for April 26 at 1 p.m. before Magisterial District Judge Donald Whittaker.

4/14/2017
12 indicted on drug charges
Eric Mark - Citizens Voice

A federal grand jury indicted a dozen Luzerne County residents on drug trafficking charges last month, according to the U.S. Department of Justice.z
The indictments were issued in federal court in Scranton on March 28 and unsealed this week, after the defendants had been arrested, the Justice Department said in a news release.
The defendants face drug trafficking and firearms offenses, the news release states.
Defendants identified by the Justice Department include:
• Edirso De Leon Frias, 25, of Nanticoke.
• Nathaniel Murphy, 41, of Wilkes-Barre.
• Roy Seabrook, 43, of Wilkes-Barre.
• Ruth Reyes-Maldonado, 32, of Wilkes-Barre.
• Joel Contreras, 25, of Nanticoke.
• Alhagie Samba, 49, of Wilkes-Barre.
• Adrian Rivera, 40, of Wikes-Barre.
• Jerrod Curtis, 33, of Wilkes-Barre.
• Nelson Soto, 42, of Wilkes-Barre.
• Juan Roman-Polanco, 31, of Avoca.
• Luis Enrique Martinez Ortiz, 25, of Wilkes-Barre.
• Jose Ramon De Leon-Pineda, 33, of West Hazleton.
The defendants are charged with conspiracy to distribute and possession with the intent to deliver cocaine and heroin, the news release states.
De Leon Frias is also charged with possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime, while Roman-Polanco is also charged with possessing a firearm as a convicted felon, according to the Justice Department.
The indictments stemmed from a Justice Department initiative “to combat the nationwide epidemic regarding the use and distribution of heroin,” the news release states.
Law enforcement agencies that participated in the investigation included state police, Wilkes-Barre police and the federal Drug Enforcement Agency.

4/7/2017
Man faces charges after drug bust in Nanticoke
Sarah Scinto - Citizens Voice

Bomb squad members responded to a Nanticoke home on Wednesday after police discovered two explosives while searching the home for drugs.
Nanticoke police and other departments searched 347 Hanover St., Apt. 5, around 4:10 p.m. Wednesday. The resident, Brandon George Sirak, was arrested following the search.
Police found 150 bags of suspected heroin, drug paraphernalia and over $500 in cash.
Sirak was charged with three counts of manufacturing, delivering or possession of a controlled substance, intentional possession of a controlled substance and use or possession of drug paraphernalia.
Officers also found two explosive devices and cordoned off the area for more than two hours while members of the Scranton Bomb Squad removed them. Nanticoke Police Chief Thomas Wall said responding officers found two cylindrical objects "about the size of an empty paper towel roll," with fuses protruding from the ends.
Sirak was arraigned on Thursday morning before Magisterial District Judge John Hasay. A preliminary hearing was scheduled for 1 p.m. on April 12 before Magisterial District Judge Donald Whittaker.

3/28/2017
Police: Investigation led to arrest of man wanted in Ohio
tkellar@timesleader.com

What was initially a criminal mischief investigation resulted in police arresting a man wanted by authorities in Ohio.
Police said officers were conducting the criminal mischief investigation at 6:55 p.m. Sunday at 27 Hill Street. Officers encountered Luis Miguel Torres-Rodriguez, 21, and learned he had a warrant for his arrest in Ohio for charges of kidnapping, felonious assault, aggravated menace, and burglary.
Torres-Rodriguez was taken into custody without incident. Police later discovered Torres-Rodriguez was allegedly using an alias.
Torres-Rodriguez was subsequently charged with false identification to law enforcement and being a fugitive from justice. He was remanded to the Luzerne County Correctional Facility for overnight arraignment.
Officers from Wilkes-Barre City Police Department and the Cuyahoga County Sheriff's Department in Ohio assisted.

3/18/2017
West Nanticoke man gets up to 10 years for robbery
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 man’s car keys and cellphone and ran off, according to prosecutors. Vough ordered Ruchinski sent to state prison as soon as possible.

3/9/2017
Nanticoke duo arraigned on drug charges
mmizenko@timesleader.com

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 search occurred.
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 unsuccessful Wednesday.

3/1/2017
Woman accused of Nanticoke stabbing waives charges to county court
tkellar@timesleader.com

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 municipal building.
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 that’s when four people — two men and two woman — charged after her, and she defended herself with a pocket knife.
Fred Heller, a friend of Gantt-Brown’s, 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 into custody.
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-Brown’s attorney Allyson Leigh Kacmarski, Whittaker reduced Gantt-Brown’s bail to $25,000 unsecured.

2/28/2017
Trio indicted on federal drug-trafficking charges
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. Attorney’s 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 to prosecutors.
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.

2/23/2017
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
Times Leader

Police are asking for the public’s 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.

2/17/2017
Death of 9-day-old infant still under investigation in Nanticoke
tkellar@timesleader.com

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 dead.
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 Coroner’s Office. No one has been charged in the 9-day-old’s death.
The infant’s mother, Sydney Simon, 26, declined to comment Thursday about her daughter’s 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 Jan. 18.

2/15/2017
Court panel rejects jailed Nanticoke man’s appeal
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 homicide charges.
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.

2/9/2017
Alleged rapist charged with child porn possession
Citizens Voice

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, both felonies.
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.

1/31/2017
Police: Man charged after attacking girlfriend in Nanticoke
mmizenko@timesleader.com

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 complaint.
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 Gabriel’s 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 Laura’s forehead.
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.

1/21/2017
Suspect in Nanticoke man’s 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 Smith’s 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 cases.
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 McNeal’s 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 McNeal’s whereabouts is asked to call state police at Wyoming at 570-697-2000.

1/20/2017
Suspect named in Nanticoke murder
Eric Mark - Citizens Voice

Police have named a suspect in the murder of a Nanticoke man early Wednesday morning.
Antoine McNeal, 32, of Wilkes-Barre, shot and killed 20-year-old Brandon Smith outside Smith’s 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 Coroner’s 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.

1/18/2017
One man killed in early-morning shooting in Nanticoke
tkellar@timesleader.com

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 any arrests.
Officials said they believe the shooting was drug-related.
Officials from the Pennsylvania State Police in Wyoming, the Luzerne County District Attorney’s Office, and the Nanticoke Police Department are investigating.
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 Township.
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 back inside.
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 house’s 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 long.
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 to school.
“I was thankful … they didn’t 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.

1/18/2017
Police seek suspect in Nanticoke robbery
Eric Mark - 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.