Nanticoke Police Department - 2018
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7/16/2018
Standoff ends peacefully in Nanticoke
Eric Mark - Citizens Voice

A man surrendered peacefully after a domestic disturbance turned into a standoff with police on Sunday in Nanticoke.
Officers took Richard J. Simon Jr. into custody shortly before 2 p.m. Sunday after he walked out of his residence at 12 Honey Pot St., where he had barricaded himself for more than an hour after he assaulted and threatened his live-in girlfriend, according to police.
Officers responded to a reported domestic assault at the home at 12:26 p.m. Sunday, according to a criminal complaint filed by Nanticoke police.
Responding officers spoke with the victim of the alleged assault. She said that on Saturday night she called Simon and confronted him about naked pictures of a woman she found on his phone.
Simon responded “I don’t want you” and did not come home Saturday night, the woman told police.
She said that when Simon came home at 11 a.m. Sunday she told him “get your (stuff) and leave,” after which Simon slapped her face, shoved her to the ground and began to choke her.
The woman said she almost passed out before she escaped the physical assault. She again told Simon to leave, after which he pulled a handgun from a back pocket, aimed it at her face and said “if you call the cops I’ll kill you,” the complaint states.
The woman said that when Simon went to the basement, she grabbed her children and ran out of the house to a safe location. Officers observed red marks on her neck, consistent with her account of the assault, according to the complaint.
Police set up a perimeter and evacuated residents of a separate apartment in the building. They attempted to reach Simon on his cell phone, but it went straight to voice mail, the complaint states.
A friend of Simon’s managed to reach him by phone, and police convinced Simon to surrender, according to Nanticoke police Chief Thomas Wall. No one was injured, Wall said.
Simon was not armed when he surrendered, but officers found a handgun when they searched his home, according to Wall.
Simon, 33, was charged with a felony count of aggravated assault and misdemeanor counts of simple assault, terroristic threats, reckless endangerment and stalking.
He was arraigned Sunday and sent to Luzerne County Correctional Facility in lieu of $50,000 bail. A preliminary hearing is scheduled for July 25 before Magisterial District Judge Donald Whittaker.
Police from Nanticoke, Hanover Twp., Sugar Notch, Rice Twp. and Newport Twp. responded, as did state police, according to Wall.
Wall said he was happy the potentially deadly incident ended peacefully, with no one seriously hurt and the suspect alive and in custody.
“Any time they end this way it’s a home run,” he said.

7/5/2018
Police: Man robs Turkey Hill after he, girlfriend gambled rent money
Steve Mocarsky - Citizens Voice

City police arrested a man they say committed an armed robbery after he and his girlfriend gambled away their rent money at a casino.
Joshua Love, 30, of East Kirmar Avenue, Newport Twp., faces charges of robbery, theft by unlawful taking, terroristic threats and simple assault.
Police say Love entered the Turkey Hill Minit Market at 460 W. Main St., Nanticoke, at 3:55 a.m. June 23, jumped over the counter and demanded money from the cash register while holding a large kitchen knife. He then allegedly fled on foot on Alden Road.
In a criminal complaint, police say Love also took money from a “purported patron” before leaving the store. And although a clerk asked the female patron to wait for police, she left the store soon after Love.
The following day, police received information on the female patron, whom they located and interviewed. The woman allegedly told them she was serving as a lookout in the store for Love, who was her boyfriend.
Police then located Love, who allegedly told them he and his girlfriend were at a casino, drank alcohol, became intoxicated, gambled and lost their rent money.
Love then allegedly admitted to going to the store and committing the robbery, with his girlfriend serving as a lookout.
Love was arraigned before Magisterial District Judge Joseph Spagnuolo and, unable to post $100,000 bail, was jailed at the Luzerne County Correctional Facility to await a preliminary hearing scheduled for 10:30 a.m. July 18 before District Judge Donald Whitaker.

7/4/2018
Man accused of beating girlfriend
James Halpin - Citizens Voice

A Mocanaqua man accused of beating his girlfriend spit on police and punched a medic treating him for a nose bleed, according to police.
Matthew J. Houseknecht, 29, of 136 Italy St., had to be stunned with a Taser after he began kicking and spitting at police, the charges allege.
According to a police affidavit, officers were called to 113 W. Green St. around 10:20 p.m. Monday to a report of a domestic dispute. Houseknecht’s girlfriend, Beth Lewis, told police they had been arguing about spending intimate time together when Houseknecht, who had consumed most of a bottle of peach schnapps, got irate.
Houseknecht began throwing and smashing things, and pushed Lewis to the ground before getting on top of her and punching her in the face, police said.
Officers arrested Houseknecht, who then asked for a tissue because of a nose bleed, the complaint said. Informed that police did not have any tissues, Houseknecht asked for permission to get down and blow his nose into the grass, according to police.
When that request was denied, Houseknecht “flipped out” and asked if police wanted him to bleed all over the car, the complaint said. Houseknecht, who informed police he has hepatitis C, then turned around and spit in the face of Officer Bryan Kata, according to police.
As Kata tried to hold Houseknecht and stop him from spitting, Houseknecht again spit on the officer and tried to blow the bloody discharge from his nose onto him, the complaint alleges.
Kata then brought Houseknecht to the ground, police said. During the ensuing struggle, Houseknecht kicked Kata in the side before another officer, Joseph Buchalski, used a Taser to subdue him, the charges allege.
Police said Houseknecht then calmed down until after he was loaded into an ambulance to be taken to Wilkes-Barre General Hospital. En route, Houseknecht started to act up again, hitting medic Ryan Panetta on the arm and leg, police said.
Once at the hospital, Houseknecht again spit on police, the complaint said.
Police charged Houseknecht with aggravated assault, simple assault, resisting arrest and harassment. Magisterial District Judge Joseph D. Spagnuolo Jr. arraigned Houseknecht on Tuesday morning and ordered him jailed at the Luzerne County Correctional Facility with bail set at $100,000.
A preliminary hearing was set for July 11.

7/3/2018
Police: Pair passed fake cash at grocery store
Amanda Christman - Citizens Voice

Sugarloaf Twp. police apprehended two people after fake money was passed at a township grocery store June 9.
Erica Altemose, 24, of Nanticoke, was charged with two felony counts of forgery along with one felony conspiracy count and one misdemeanor for theft while Jeremy Bulford, 27, of Duryea, faces a felony for conspiracy at forgery and a misdemeanor for conspiracy at theft.
Atlemose was released on $35,000 unsecured bail Friday by Magisterial District Judge Joseph Zola, Hazleton, and Bulford was released on the same bail by Magisterial District Judge Daniel O’Donnell, Sugarloaf Twp., on Monday.
The charges were filed against them June 14 by Sugarloaf Twp. police.
Township police were called to Gould’s Supermarket, 669 Route 93, at 4:13 p.m. for a woman who fled the business after a robbery and assault against a cashier.
When a township officer arrived, she found a Pennsylvania State Police Trooper followed Altemose out of the store and detained her.
Police said Altemose was stopped by a cashier after passing two bogus $100 bills. Once apprehended, Altemose claimed Bulford asked her to pay for $25 gift cards with separate $100 counterfeit notes.
She said she was staying at Bulford’s apartment at 1601 Airport Road in Hazle Twp., for about a month and that day he drove her to the store and asked her to make the purchase, according to police. He told her how much he cared for her and though Altemose questioned the legitimacy of the bills, she used them anyway, court papers state.
Altemose had two $25 gift cards in her possession, a New York state identification card, $146 wrapped in two receipts for the gift cards she bought with the funny money and one fake $100 bill, arrest papers state.

7/3/2018
Kids sought in pizzeria fireworks prank
Bob Kalinowski - Citizens Voice

A group of juveniles lit off fireworks inside a Nanticoke pizza restaurant Sunday, filling the business with smoke and clearing it of customers, the business owner said.
The incident unfolded around 7 p.m. inside Antonio’s Pizza at 204 E. Main St.
“What happened: They came in. They went to the bathroom. They got some free water. We have a container of free spring water. I guess they went into the corner and lit it up and ran,” Luigi Carannante, the owner, said Monday. “There was a lot of smoke.”
The juveniles then fled on bicycles.
Nanticoke’s police and fire departments responded to the incident.
Debris from the exploding fireworks marred the windows and walls of the business and damaged a carpet, Carannante said. The business resumed operations when the smoke cleared.
“There were some burn marks, scorch marks on the walls. But they didn’t have to extinguish anything,” said Nanticoke Fire Chief Kevin Hazleton.
Nanticoke police Chief Tom Wall said the department was investigating. Anyone with information can call city police at 570-735-4000.
Antonio’s has been a fixture of Nanticoke since 1982, having moved to its current location from the former Colonial Village more than 18 years ago.
“We’re glad no one was hurt,” Carannante said.

6/27/2018
Man pleads guilty to sex assault, assault charges
James Halpin - Citizens Voice

A Monroe County man accused of beating a woman and forcing her to perform oral sex on him in front of three young children pleaded guilty Tuesday to a felony sex offense.
Deon Hosmond Blair, 27, of Henryville, pleaded guilty to a count of involuntary deviate sexual intercourse with forcible compulsion and a misdemeanor count of simple assault. Prosecutors dropped additional charges against Blair in exchange for the plea.
According to the charges, police responded to a home on East Green Street, Nanticoke, the night of Jan. 15 after a friend of the victim’s reported she was being held against her will and had been physically and sexually assaulted.
Police arrived at the apartment to find the victim with swollen and bruised cheeks and a cut on the top of her head, according to prosecutors. Blair tried telling the officers there was no problem and asked them to leave, but the woman reported Blair had been slapping and punching her earlier in the evening, prosecutors said.
The woman also told police Blair had forced her to perform oral sex in a bedroom in front of three children, ages 2, 1 and 3 months, prosecutors said.
Luzerne County Judge Michael T. Vough accepted Blair’s plea Tuesday and ordered him held at the Luzerne County Correctional Facility pending sentencing on Sept. 28.
Blair will be required to undergo a sex offender evaluation prior to sentencing.

6/23/2018
PRESS RELEASE
Incident: Armed Robbery
Location: Turkey Hill Minit Mart, 460 West Main St. Nanticoke City
Day/Time of Incident: June 23, 2018 at 3:55am

The Nanticoke City Police responded to the report of an armed Robbery that occurred at 3:55am at the Turkey Hill Minit Mart, 460 West Main St Nanticoke City.
A male suspect entered the store at 3:55 am, jumped over the counter and demanded the money from the cash register while holding a large kitchen type knife. Afterward, the male is observed running away on nearby Alden Rd.
The male suspect is described as wearing winter gloves, a blue scarf over his face, black blue jeans, and black boots. The knife is described as having a brown handle.
Police are also seeking to speak with a white female who was within the store at the time of the robbery. Photographs of this witness are attached.
Additional information will be provided when it becomes available.
Anyone with information about this crime and the identity of the female is asked to contact the Nanticoke City Police at 570-735-2200 ext. 206.

6/19/2018
Hanover Twp. police capture assault suspect
James Halpin - Citizens Voice

HANOVER TWP. — A man wanted on aggravated assault charges since September was captured following a traffic stop early Tuesday, according to police.
Township police say they contacted Patrick Shanahan, 26, of Wilkes-Barre, during a traffic stop on South Main Street in the Lee Park section around 2:40 a.m. Tuesday. After learning Shanahan was wanted by Nanticoke police on assault charges, he was transferred to their custody for processing, police said.
According to the charges, Nanticoke police responded to 336 E. Washington St. around 3:30 p.m. Sept. 21 to a report of a woman who had been badly beaten.
The victim, Brandi Balasavage, told police that Shanahan, her cousin, had come into her bedroom and gotten into an argument because he thought she had been texting his boyfriend, according to police.
The argument grew heated and they went to a hallway, where Shanahan began arguing with Balasavage about a small purse, the complaint says. Balasavage reported that Shanahan then got on top of her and punched her in the face repeatedly before fleeing the scene, police said.
Balasavage suffered a three-inch cut on the left side of her face as well as several small cuts and bruises on the right side, police said. She was taken to Wilkes-Barre General Hospital for treatment and evaluation.
Police charged Shanahan with aggravated assault, simple assault, reckless endangerment, disorderly conduct and harassment. Magisterial District Judge Joseph D. Spagnuolo Jr. arraigned him on Tuesday morning and set a preliminary hearing for June 27.

5/31/2018
Loose tot prompts endangerment charges
Bob Kalinowski - Citizens Voice

A mother and grandmother are facing charges for several instances of neglecting a child, including one time when the toddler wandered into traffic and was nearly stuck by a car, police alleged Wednesday.
Tatiana Iesha Moore, 20, and her mother, Trisella Denise Hubbard, 41, both of 200 W. Main St., are each charged with endangering the welfare of a child.
Both were arraigned Wednesday by Magisterial District Judge Donald Whittaker, who ordered them jailed in the Luzerne County Correctional Facility in lieu of $75,000 bail.
According to arrest papers:
The first instance of suspected neglect authorities were alerted to occurred April 17 when a passerby spotted the 2-year-old boy in a diaper sitting on a curb along busy West Main Street near the intersection with Slope Street.
As the man waited for police to arrive, Moore identified herself as the boy’s mother. Moore later told police she was unaware the boy left the home, police said.
Nanticoke police said they contacted Luzerne County Children and Youth Services, which made an arrangement with Hubbard to be responsible for the supervision of the child.
Around 10:45 a.m. May 16, police said another passerby spotted the boy, wearing only a diaper, wandering in the middle of Slope Street in the middle of a rain storm. The woman said she almost hit the boy with her car.
The woman took control of the boy to make sure he was safe and made attempts to locate people in the area who might be the boy’s guardians, police said. After not being able to find anyone, the woman brought the boy to the Nanticoke police station.
Nanticoke police took the boy to the home of Moore and Hubbard and eventually got someone to answer after multiple attempts, police said.
Neither realized the boy was missing, police said.
Officials with children and youth were again contacted.
By 2:45 p.m. that same day, police were again called to the home for the report of the boy hanging out of a second-story window.
By that time, children and youth caseworkers were on scene and witnessed the incident that alarmed callers. The child was taken into custody via a court order that child welfare officials obtained, police said.
Hubbard said she was washing dishes and Moore was taking a bath while the boy was hanging out the window, police said.
The women are slated for a preliminary hearing on June 13 at 10 a.m.

5/31/2018
Mother, grandmother charged with endangering toddler
elewis@timesleader.com

City police on Wednesday charged a Nanticoke mother and grandmother with endangering a toddler who was left unsupervised and found wandering the streets and hanging out a window, according to court papers.
Police allege Tatiana Iesha Denise Moore, 20, and her mother, Trisella Denise Hubbard, 42, of West Main Street, failed to supervise Moore’s 2-year-old boy, who was found wearing only a diaper in the streets April 17 and May 16.
Police further allege the toddler was hanging out a second-floor window of their residence May 16.
It is the second time Moore has been charged with endangering a child.
Court records say Moore was sentenced in November by Luzerne County Judge Michael Vough to 12 months in the Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition program, a special probationary sentence for first-time, non-violent offenders. That case included charges of endangering the welfare of children, disorderly conduct, driving without a license and failure to secure a child in a safety seat.
It stemmed from a traffic stop by Plymouth police in October 2016, where an officer spotted an approximate 1-year-old in Moore’s vehicle not secured in a safety seat. Moore shoved the 1-year-old several times as the toddler struck his head against the passenger-side door, court records say.
According to the criminal complaint filed Wednesday:
Moore’s 2-year-old was wearing only a diaper when he was found by a passerby near the curb in the area of West Main and Slope streets April 17. The passerby secured the child and called police.
While officers responded, Moore emerged from her house and retrieved her child.
The incident prompted an investigation by Luzerne County Children & Youth, which established a safety plan for the child. The plan called for Hubbard to be the responsible person to supervise the toddler.
Less than a month later on May 16, police responded to two incidents involving the toddler.
A passerby traveling on Slope Street spotted the boy, wearing only a diaper, standing in the middle of the road. The driver had to swerve to avoid striking the child. The passerby secured the child and drove to city police headquarters when she was not able to find the child’s guardians or parents in the area.
Police located Moore and Hubbard at their residence and both did not realize the toddler was missing from the house.
Later the same day at 2:45 p.m., police returned to the house on a report a toddler was hanging out a second-floor window.
Child caseworkers were at the house and stood beneath the window where the toddler was spotted.
Hubbard claimed to be washing dishes on the first floor, and Moore was reportedly in a bathroom.
Moore and Hubbard were arraigned by District Judge Donald Whittaker in Nanticoke on one count of endangering the welfare of children. They were jailed at the county correctional facility for lack of $75,000 bail each.

5/24/2018
Police: Handcuffed man attempts escape
elewis@timesleader.com

A man detained in handcuffs during a traffic stop ran away from a city police officer and jolted in front of moving vehicles in an escape attempt on Tuesday, court records say.
Police said they stopped the driver of a Pontiac Vibe for an expired inspection sticker on Kosciusko Street at about 5:30 p.m.
The driver identified himself as Scott Davis at which police were unable to verify. Police allege the Pontiac was registered to a deceased person and the driver was unable to provide a reason to why he was driving the vehicle.
As the driver was handcuffed, he broke free from custody and ran into heavy traffic on Kosciusko Street, police said.
Police chased the driver to East Main Street that also had heavy traffic. An officer deployed his Taser as the driver ran into traffic, police said.
Police identified the driver as Jeffrey Junior Ray, 23, of South Grant Street, Wilkes-Barre.
A records check revealed Ray had an active warrant for his arrest by Wilkes-Barre Township police alleging he stole a backpack from a vehicle in the parking lot of Wegmans on Aug. 20, court records say.
Ray allegedly told city police he attempted to escape because he was wanted.
Ray was arraigned Wednesday by District Judge Ferris Webby in Luzerne County Central Court on charges of escape, resisting arrest, false identification to law enforcement and three vehicle citations. He was also charged by township police with two counts of theft.
Ray was jailed at the county correctional facility for lack of $15,000 total bail.

5/16/2018
Nanticoke police apprehend alleged parole fugitive
elewis@timesleader.com

Too exhausted from running, Michael Anthony Epps surrendered to city police after a long foot chase, they say.
Police said Epps, 19, of Main Road, Hanover Township, gave up while trying to hide in shrubs in the area of 1 W. Broad St. just after 11 p.m. Monday.
Epps was wanted by the state Department of Probation and Parole on a violation.
According to a criminal complaint:
Police spotted Epps, who they knew was wanted, in the area of South Market and East Main streets.
Epps took off running on South Market, through alleys and across Patriot Park Square and back again on South Market. Police last saw Epps running through the parking lot of FNCB Bank.
While searching the area, Epps was found hiding in shrubs.
The teen told officers he was physically exhausted from running.
Epps also admitted he ran from police because he was wanted and did not want to return to jail. Epps claimed he was aware he was wanted because he received mail last week from the parole department.
Epps was arraigned Tuesday by District Judge Joseph Spagnuolo Jr. in Luzerne County Central Court on a charge of flight to avoid apprehension. He was jailed at the county correctional facility for lack of $15,000 bail and on the parole violation.

5/11/2018
Prosecutors will seek death penalty in killing of 97-year-old Nanticoke woman
bkalinowski@citizensvoice.com

Police charged Anthony Joseph Spudis, 35, with criminal homicide, burglary and robbery in the death of Gertrude Price, whose family found her brutally beaten body in her bed at 23 E. Grand St. in Nanticoke on Nov. 29, 2013.
Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty against the former Nanticoke man accused of brutally beating and stabbing a 97-year-old woman with a screwdriver as she slept in her bed on Thanksgiving in 2013.
Members of the Luzerne County District Attorney’s Office announced the decision Friday morning at the formal arraignment for Anthony Spudis.
Spudis, 35, is charged with criminal homicide, burglary and robbery in the death of 97-year-old Gertrude Price, whose family found her brutally beaten body in her bed at 23 E. Grand St. in Nanticoke on Nov. 29, 2013.
Prosecutors said aggravated circumstances exist allowing them to seek the death penalty, including that the the homicide occurred during a felony.
Prosecutors allege Spudis — who was living with his girlfriend at 2 W. Union St., 820 feet away from Price’s home — went out to burglarize homes Thanksgiving night in 2013. He broke a basement window frame and screen to enter Price’s home, thinking no one was there, according to the charges.When he encountered Price, Spudis stabbed her with a screwdriver and beat her to death, then continued robbing the home, prosecutors said.
Luzerne County Judge Tina Polachek Gartley set a trial date for Nov. 27.

5/9/2018
WB man charged with forcing sex on teen girl
elewis@timesleader.com

A Wilkes-Barre man was charged Tuesday for allegedly having sex with a teen girl in the city more than a dozen times.
Nanticoke police investigated claims by the 14-year-old, who alleged she was forced by Jeremiah Corey Calk, 31, to have sex inside a home on New Grant Street from October through the middle of January.
When police questioned Calk on Saturday, he admitted to having sexual encounters with the teen that began with oral sex and progressed to other activities.
Court documents allege sexual contact took place over three months, from Oct. 1 to Jan. 10. Those same documents allege Calk estimated he had sexual encounters with the girl approximately 17 times in three weeks.
Calk was arraigned by District Judge Donald Whittaker in Nanticoke on felony charges of statutory sexual assault, involuntary deviate sexual intercourse, aggravated indecent assault, corruption of minors and unlawful contact with a minor. Calk was jailed at the Luzerne County Correctional Facility for lack of $100,000 bail.
According to a criminal complaint:
The girl's mother reported the suspected sex assaults March 12, telling officers she allowed Calk to stay in the basement of the home.
The girl was later questioned by a forensic interviewer at the Luzerne County Children's Advocacy Center.
She told the interviewer Calk was a good person and suffered from post traumatic stress disorder. The girl claimed Calk initially did not pressure her as she did not trust men.
Over time, the girl said Calk began to do things to her as her mother slept or went to church. She claimed her mind went "blank," and she was not able to say "yes" or "no." She said Calk would assault her "every single night."
The girl's mother estimated she allowed Calk to stay at her house from September to February.
This is not the suspect's first brush with the law.
Court records say Calk was sentenced by a county judge in June 2015 to 48 days to 15 months in prison after he pleaded guilty to receiving stolen property for his role in stealing a woman's purse outside the Quick Stop store on Spring Street, Wilkes-Barre, in July 2011.
Brother John Calk, 33, pleaded guilty to stealing the purse and was sentenced to 16 to 32 months in prison, records show.

5/8/2018
Nanticoke man charged with assaulting woman
elewis@timesleader.com

A city man was arraigned Tuesday on two arrest warrants alleging he assaulted his on-and-off again girlfriend in front of a young girl.
Police allege Timothy Michael Comoroski, 32, forced his way inside a West Noble Street residence on Nov. 19 and assaulted Jolene Bullock. Comoroski is also accused of assaulting Bullock on Jan. 2.
According to the criminal complaints:
Bullock allegedly told police she and Zachary Hallas were helping her daughter with homework on Nov. 19 when Comoroski forced his way inside the residence and began yelling. She claimed Comoroski assaulted her when Hallas left the room.
When Bullock attempted to call police, she claimed Comoroski ripped the phone from her hand and left the house. She told police Comoroski had not lived at her residence for a month prior to the alleged incident.
The girl remained in the kitchen while Comoroski allegedly assaulted Bullock.
An arrest warrant was issued for Comoroski on Nov. 21 charging him with burglary, robbery, theft, simple assault and harassment.
Several weeks later on Jan. 2, Comoroski returned to Bullock’s residence and allegedly assaulted her in front of the girl.
Police said they were met at the door by the girl who stated, “He hit my mommy, she’s bleeding from her nose,” the complaint says.
Comoroski ran out the back door when police were at the front door.
An officer went to the rear of the house where Comoroski ran away and eluded capture.
Bullock allegedly told police Comoroski struck her during an argument and he wouldn’t let her and her daughter call 911.
An arrest warrant was issued Jan. 5 charging Comoroski with simple assault and harassment.
Comoroski was arraigned by District Judge David Barilla in Luzerne County Central Court on the charges listed in the arrest warrants. He was jailed at the county correctional facility for lack of $10,000 total bail.

5/5/2018
Police: Robbers warned clerk they would return for heist
James Halpin - Citizens Voice

A city man wanted on sex assault charges was captured Friday after he and others informed a convenience store clerk they would be back in an hour to rob the place, according to police.
Police on Tuesday charged Dylan Charles Monelli, 22, of 17 S. Hanover St., with having a sexual relationship with a 15-year-old girl, but he wasn’t captured until early Friday after he and two accomplices announced their plan to hold up the Turkey Hill Minit Market at 460 W. Main St., according to police.
According to a police affidavit, a clerk at the store contacted police around 12:20 a.m. Friday to report three people had just come to the store and revealed they would be back in an hour to rob it. The trio instructed the clerk to go by the grills when they came back so that one of them could take cigarettes and other items from behind the counter without any trouble, police said.
The clerk told police she went along with the conversation because she was in fear for her life.
Police staked out the store from a nearby parking lot, and around 1 a.m. a car with three people matching the suspect descriptions pulled up to the store, the complaint says. One of the people entered the store and the driver, later identified as Monelli, honked the horn to alert his friend when police pulled behind the car, according to the charges.
Police confronted the person in the store, a 17-year-old boy who had unopened packs of cigarettes and cupcakes in his pockets, police said. Asked how he planned to pay for the items, he said he didn’t, according to police.
Monelli claimed he had no idea why the police were asking him questions, then explained the minor made comments about robbing the store but that he didn’t think he really planned to do it, the affidavit says. Monelli claimed he just wanted some Little Debbie cakes because they were only two for $1, police said.
Police identified the third member of the trio as Elizabeth Moore, 18, of Nanticoke, who had been reported as missing. She initially said she had no part in the plan, but later admitted to hearing the minor and Monelli talking about it, police said.
Police charged all three with robbery and conspiracy to commit robbery. Monelli was also arrested on the warrant charging him with statutory sexual assault and corruption of minors.
In that case, police say Monelli admitted having a sexual relationship with a 15-year-old girl during the last half of 2017, while he was 21 years old. Most of the encounters took place at the girl’s home, but Monelli also brought her to a cemetery in Newport Twp. to have sex, according to police.
Police say the juvenile was released to his mother, while Monelli and Moore were arraigned before Magisterial District Judge David A. Barilla. The judge set bail at $12,000 for Monelli, and $1,000 for Moore. They were booked into the Luzerne County Correctional Facility with preliminary hearings set for later this month.

5/5/2018
Cops: Trio told clerk they’d come back to rob store, got busted trying
jlynott@timesleader.com

Three people who kept their word to return and rob a convenience store were caught in the act, police said.
Dylan Monelli and Elizabeth Moore, both of Nanticoke, and a 17-year-old boy were taken into custody outside the Turkey Hill on West Main Street shortly after 1 a.m. Friday. They now face charges of robbery and conspiracy.
Monelli, 22, was also wanted on charges of statutory sexual assault for allegedly engaging in sex acts with a 15-year-old girl. He was arraigned and committed to the Luzerne County Correctional Facility for lack of $10,000 bail on the sex charges and $2,000 on the robbery charges. Moore, 19, was released on $1,000 unsecured bail. The juvenile was released to the custody of his mother.
Police said they were tipped off by a clerk at the store when they stopped in while on routine patrol around 12:20 a.m., minutes after the trio’s initial visit.
According to a criminal complaint:
Two males and a female came into the store and told the clerk they would be back in an hour to steal cigarettes and other items. They told the clerk that she needed to go to the back by the grill when they returned so nothing could go wrong and the younger male could grab cigarettes from behind the counter and other items. The older male said he lived nearby and they would return.
The clerk told police she went along with the conversation, saying “Yeah, sure” to the trio because she has children and feared for her life. She said she did not know if they would harm her and was uncertain if they had weapons.
Police waited next to the store parking lot and spotted a maroon vehicle pull into the lot around 1 a.m. A skinny male got out of the vehicle, later identified as a Jeep, and went into the store. Police drove their marked vehicle behind the Jeep and saw a man and woman in the front seat. The driver of the Jeep hit the horn to alert the teen inside that police were on scene.
An officer stayed with the Jeep and another officer went inside the store to ask the teen for identification. The officer noticed packs of unopened cigarettes in the pockets of the suspect’s pants and hooded shirt, plus two unopened packages of cupcakes. When asked how he was going to pay for the items, the teen said he wasn’t and was taken into custody and put in a patrol car.
Monelli said he didn’t think the boy would follow through on his comment about robbing the store. Monelli said he drove the juvenile to the store to buy Little Debbie cakes that were two for $1. Monelli later confessed he and the juvenile talked about the robbery.
Moore, who police said was the subject of a missing person report, initially said she heard the boy talk about the robbery and didn’t think he would do it. She recanted, saying she heard Monelli and the juvenile talk about the robbery, but it was mainly the boy’s doing.
The clerk identified them as the people who came into the store.

4/26/2018
Ice cream business robbed in Nanticoke
Times Leader

City police are investigating an armed robbery at Chi Chi’s Ice Cream on West Broad Street on Wednesday.
A witness told police a white male, wearing a gray-hooded sweatshirt and a black bandana covering a portion of his face, entered the business at about 8:44 p.m. and threatened a cashier with a meat cleaver-type knife while demanding money.
Police described the suspect as being 5 feet 7 inches to 5 feet 10 inches tall.
Anyone with information about the armed robbery is asked to call Nanticoke police at 570-735-2200.

4/20/2018
Prosecutors reduce arson charge against manslaughter parolee
James Halpin - Citizens Voice

Prosecutors on Friday downgraded an arson charge against a Newport Township man who was accused of setting a brush fire while free on parole on an involuntary manslaughter conviction.
Corey Eckrote, 53, of 1048 Rear E. Main St., had been facing felony counts of arson and risking catastrophe, as well as a misdemeanor count of possessing drug paraphernalia, after police alleged he set a fire that broke out in the area of 100 Brown Row on March 26.
In court Friday, Assistant District Attorney Thomas Hogans said prosecutors had agreed to reduce the arson charge to a misdemeanor count of criminal mischief and would drop the remaining counts in exchange for Eckrote waiving a preliminary hearing.
At the request of the defense, Magisterial District Judge Joseph D. Spagnuolo Jr. reduced Eckrote’s bail from $100,000 to $10,000 unsecured and set a dispositional hearing for June 7.
Prosecutors say Eckrote was found in the area of the fire that broke out March 26 and that he repeatedly apologized for setting the fire, saying he “did something stupid.” He was also found in possession of a green cut straw with a powdery substance in his back pocket, which he claimed was residue from his prescription Percocet, according to the charges.
At the time, Eckrote was on parole from his two- to six-year prison sentence imposed after a jury convicted him of involuntary manslaughter and child endangerment over the death of his 2.5-month-old Jaxon, who suffocated on Feb. 14, 2014.
The boy’s mother, 44-year-old Tracey Ann Gonda, fell asleep with him in her arms and he got wedged in the cushion of a recliner, according to prosecutors.
During Eckrote’s trial, prosecutors placed the blame for the child’s death on him because he knew Gonda was an addict yet nevertheless bought Gonda two 24-ounce containers of malt liquor and left her with Jaxon while he went out for drinks at the Four Hundred Club of Nanticoke.
Gonda pleaded guilty in September 2015 to endangering the welfare of a child and corruption of minors, and was sentenced to 15 to 60 months in prison.

4/20/2018
Trial date set for teen accused of having ax, knives outside Nanticoke High
pkernan@timesleader.com

A trial date has been set for the student police say had axes and knives inside his vehicle at Greater Nanticoke Area High School in February.
Dylan Jeffrey White, 18, of Nanticoke, appeared before Luzerne County Judge Michael T. Vough, who confirmed a trial date of June 11.
White is facing a single misdemeanor count of possession of a weapon on school property.
The teen was arrested Feb. 22 after school officer Ray Whittaker noticed an ax with a 35-inch handle on the passenger-side floor of a Mazda Protege.
The car was parked near the school’s gym. It was determined the parking space was registered to White.
City police were called to the school. Police searched the vehicle and say they found, in addition to the ax, an 11-inch knife in the glove box, a fully extended 9-inch knife in the console and a 13-inch hatchet under the driver’s seat.
White was arraigned by District Judge Donald Whittaker in Nanticoke. He was initially jailed in the Luzerne County Correctional Facility for lack of $100,000 bail.
Since then, his bail has been reduced to $50,000, but court records do not indicate if he has posted the lower amount.

4/19/2018
Cops: Nanticoke woman stunned by Taser after challenging officer to fight
elewis@timesleader.com

A woman allegedly challenged an officer to fight her before she was stunned by a Taser outside a gas station Tuesday night.
Police arrested Remona Celee Harry, 34, of East Noble Street, Nanticoke, after investigating an altercation inside a vehicle parked outside Citgo on East Main Street just before 9 p.m.
According to a criminal complaint:
Police found Harry and another woman punching each other inside a vehicle that was also occupied by an 18-year-old and 10-year-old.
Harry refused to provide her name. She told an officer: “This is not New York.”
Harry continued to refuse to give the officer her name and date of birth and her identification card. When told she was being detained for an alleged assault, Harry refused to get out of the vehicle.
An officer displayed his Taser and ordered Harry to exit the vehicle. Harry got out clenching her fists. She told an officer: “What do you want, to fight?” When told again she was being detained, Harry responded: “Do you want to (expletive) fight?”
Harry was stunned by a Taser during a struggle. She was placed in the rear seat of a cruiser and began screaming and kicking.
She refused to allow the officer and paramedics to remove the Taser probes that penetrated her abdomen.
Harry was transported to Wilkes-Barre General Hospital, where the probes were removed.
Harry was identified when her fingerprints were scanned at the Kingston Police Department.
A family member took custody of the children in the vehicle.
Harry was arraigned by District Judge Donald Whittaker in Nanticoke on charges of resisting arrest, disorderly conduct and harassment. She was jailed for lack of $50,000 bail.

4/18/2018
Nanticoke man requests hearing on sex assault charges
elewis@timesleader.com

A man from Nanticoke accused of forcing a woman to perform a sex act requested a hearing after a negotiated plea deal was unable to be reached with the Luzerne County district attorney’s office on Wednesday.
Nanticoke police earlier this month arrested William E. Plunkett II, 38, after a woman claimed he forced her to perform a lewd act inside his residence on Phillips Street on
A woman told police she awoke at 5 a.m. for work and Plunkett began arguing with her. She claimed Plunkett searched her cell phone and did not like what he saw.
Plunkett became enraged, struck the woman in the face and grabbed her by the neck forcing her onto her knees to perform a lewd act, the complaint says.
Plunkett later returned the cell phone to the woman and allowed her to leave.
Police alleged Plunkett resisted arrest, resulting in an officer sustaining an arm injury.
Police also learned Plunkett was wanted by the Lackawanna County Sheriff’s Department. Court records say a warrant was issued for Plunkett by Lackawanna County Court on March 8 charging him with violating probation on a 2017 guilty plea for a drug paraphernalia possession charge.
Police charged Plunkett with involuntary deviate sexual intercourse, sexual assault, indecent assault, resisting arrest, simple assault and harassment. He remains jailed at the county correctional facility for lack of $35,000 bail.
Plunkett appeared for his preliminary hearing in Central Court and met privately with his court appointed attorney, Brian C. Corcoran. After the private meeting, Plunkett opted for a hearing, which rescheduled the proceeding to May 4.

4/14/2018
Edwardsville man accused of robbing Nanticoke pharmacy
Police say they have identified Ryan Stanley Romanoskey, 25, as the man who robbed the Rite Aid Pharmacy in Nanticoke in November.

A man wanted on attempted robbery and assault charges alleging he tried to hold up a drug store and pistol-whipped a man who intervened was arraigned Thursday.
Ryan Stanley Romanoskey, 25, last known to reside in Edwardsville, was arraigned Thursday morning and jailed as he awaits trial on charges alleging he tried to rob the Rite Aid Pharmacy at 5 E. Main St. the evening of Nov. 3.
According to the charges, Romanoskey entered the store and went to the counter pretending to buy candy. When the clerk, Cristen O’Brien, went to complete the transaction, Romanoskey put a black object to her chest and said, “Give me all the money and two cartons of cigarettes,” the complaint says.
Romanoskey jumped onto the counter, but O’Brien pushed him off and yelled for help, prompting customers to come to her aid, police said.
Romanoskey then ran out of the store past witness Stephen Kocher Jr., who called for Romanoskey to stop, according to the complaint. Kocher gave chase but Romanoskey swung a black handgun and hit him in the face, causing a cut to Kocher’s left eyebrow, according to police.
Police put out a press release and a surveillance photo of the robber, and a family who knows Romanoskey recognized him on the news, police said.
According to the complaint, Lori Beth Thomas told investigators that a few hours before the robbery, Romanoskey had come to her house and was under the influence of something. Romanoskey had a crack pipe that he showed to Thomas’ children and was trying to call someone to buy crack, police said.
After about a half hour, Romanoskey left and the family went to a football game, the complaint says. When they returned, the children saw a report about the robbery on the news and recognized the robber as Romanoskey, according to police.
When they told her, Thomas recognized Romanoskey as well, police said.
Police charged Romanoskey on Nov. 14 with two counts each of attempted robbery, simple assault and harassment. Court records show he was also wanted on a felony escape charge out of Wilkes-Barre that was filed last October.
Magisterial District Judge Alexandra Kokura Kravitz arraigned him on the escape charge Wednesday evening and set bail at $25,000 in that case. Magisterial District Judge Joseph D. Spagnuolo Jr. arraigned him in the attempted robbery case on Thursday morning and set bail at $50,000 on those charges.
Romanoskey was booked into the Luzerne County Correctional Facility with preliminary hearings set for later this month.

4/7/2018
Suspect in brutal 97-year-old woman's murder ordered to stand trial
James Halpin - Citizens Voice

The former Nanticoke man accused of brutally beating and stabbing a 97-year-old woman with a screwdriver as she slept in her bed on Thanksgiving will stand trial on murder charges, but the extent of his ex-girlfriend’s involvement in the case remained a mystery following a preliminary hearing Friday.
Anthony Joseph Spudis, 35, is charged with criminal homicide, burglary and robbery in the death of 97-year-old Gertrude Price, whose family found her brutally beaten body in her bed at 23 E. Grand St. in Nanticoke on Nov. 29, 2013.
Prosecutors allege Spudis — who was living with his then-girlfriend at 2 W. Union St., mere blocks away from Price’s home — went out to burglarize homes Thanksgiving night in 2013. He broke a basement window frame and screen to enter Price’s home, thinking no one was there, according to the charges.
When he encountered Price, Spudis stabbed her with a screwdriver and beat her to death, then continued robbing the home, prosecutors said. Taryn Simms, 33, initially told police Spudis brought her back to Price’s home, where she saw Price lying in her bed, not breathing.
But in court Friday, Simms had a different story.
With an attorney seated at her side to provide counsel, Simms testified that she had gone to work Thanksgiving night 2013 providing home care to a patient in Kingston. Spudis was supposed to be watching her 7-month-old baby, but when she got home around 10:45 p.m. only the baby was there, she said.
Spudis later returned, claiming to have gone on a walk, she said.
Simms denied knowing Price or ever being inside her house. When Assistant District Attorney Dan Zola asked if she told police in her original statement she had gone upstairs and seen Price’s body, she paused the hearing to consult attorney Nanda Palissery.
“I’m not going to answer that question,” Simms said when she turned back to the microphone.
During cross-examination by defense attorney John Pike, Simms said she was aware that her DNA alone had been found on a kitchen knife found outside the screen window that had been pried open leading into Price’s basement. Simms also admitted that only her DNA had been found on the screen and on a screwdriver that police found on Price’s kitchen table — a screwdriver Price’s family members said did not belong to her.
And Simms also admitted that her DNA alone had been found on a white shelled necklace that police found on the floor next to the bed where Price died.
Court records show no charges have been filed against Simms related to the case.
Family members found Price’s body in her bed the next day. Her son-in-law, Richard Belmont, said when he went into the house he saw it had been ransacked, with drawers left open and Price’s belongings strewn across the floors.
After walking up the glass-covered stairs, Belmont saw a lump in Price’s bed and pulled back the bedsheets to find her lifeless body, he said.
“There’s blood all over her face and I’m screaming Gert! Gert! Gert!” Belmont said.
Crime scene photographs displayed at the hearing showed Price laying on her back in the bed, with a white sheet pulled down over her shoulders. Her face was bloodied and blood spatter dotted her blue pillowcase.
Luzerne County Coroner Bill Lisman said Price had been stabbed in the left ear three times with a “screwdriver-like” instrument, with a fourth stab wound behind the ear. She had also been beaten on the face, and had a broken nose and jaw, he said.
To bolster their case against Spudis, prosecutors brought forward a series of jailhouse informants. Former inmate Michael Owens, 41, and current prisoner Jared Hospodar, 23, both maintained that while Spudis was serving time in the Luzerne County Correctional Facility on unrelated charges in 2014, he expressed concerns about being charged related to Price’s murder.
“He was like, ‘I killed her,’” Owens said.
But a third potential informant backfired when called to the stand.
Prosecutors say William Gronosky — a 35-year-old prisoner serving 33 to 66 years in state prison for a robbery spree that included firing shots at two police officers — previously told investigators that Spudis talked to him about the slaying. But wearing an orange Department of Corrections jumpsuit in court Friday, Gronosky denied even knowing Spudis.
“You guys made up a story and asked me to come in here and say it,” Gronosky said. “I don’t even know this dude right here. I’ve never seen him in my life.”
Assistant District Attorney Michelle Hardik had Gronosky declared a hostile witness, but he refused to budge as she went through the statement troopers allege he gave them about a conversation with Spudis. When it was over, Gronosky shook his head.
“You wanna talk about hostile?” Gronosky said. “Wow.”
But the prosecution case didn’t hinge on informants alone. Last summer, with Simms’ permission, police searched the basement of the home at 2 W. Union St., finding numerous items belonging to Price including bills, mail, family photos and a white jewelry armoire, according to prosecutors.
State police Cpl. Edward Urban also testified that Spudis’ DNA was found on a pair of Timberland boots that matched shoe impressions collected in Price’s basement. Spudis’ DNA was also on rubber gloves recovered from the crime scene, he said.
Following the testimony, Magisterial District Judge Donald L. Whittaker forwarded all charges to county court for trial.
Spudis has been held without bail at the Luzerne County Correctional Facility since his arrest in December.

3/29/2018
Man on parole for involuntary manslaughter charged with arson
jhalpin@citizensvoice.com

A township man on parole after being convicted of involuntary manslaughter in the death of his infant son was charged this week with arson for allegedly setting a brush fire.
Corey Eckrote, 53, of 1048 Rear E. Main St., is accused of setting a fire that broke out in the area of 100 Brown Row on Monday afternoon.
Police say they responded to the area and found firefighters working to contain the fire to a hillside, as well as a man later identified as Eckrote walking around the blaze. When police confronted Eckrote, he admitted starting the fire to “clean it up,” according to a police affidavit.
Eckrote repeatedly apologized for setting the fire, saying he “did something stupid” and he was sorry, according to police. Police say Eckrote also asked to be released, explaining that his father recently died and that his mother suffers from Alzheimer’s disease and needs him around.
Police handcuffed and searched Eckrote, finding a green cut straw with a powdery substance in his back pocket, according to the complaint. Eckrote claimed the powder was his prescription Percocet, according to the charges.
Police charged Eckrote with felony counts of arson and risking catastrophe, as well as a misdemeanor count of possessing drug paraphernalia.
Magisterial District Judge Donald L. Whittaker arraigned him and ordered Eckrote jailed at the Luzerne County Correctional Facility with bail set at $100,000. A preliminary hearing was set for April 4.
In 2015, Eckrote was sentenced to serve two to six years in state prison after a jury convicted him of involuntary manslaughter and child endangerment over the death of his 2½-month-old Jaxon, who suffocated Feb. 14, 2014.
The boy’s mother, 44-year-old Tracey Ann Gonda, fell asleep with him in her arms and he got wedged in the cushion of a recliner, according to prosecutors.
During Eckrote’s trial, prosecutors placed the blame for the child’s death with him because he knew Gonda was an addict yet nevertheless bought Gonda two 24-ounce containers of malt liquor and left her with Jaxon while he went out for drinks at the Four Hundred Club of Nanticoke.
When he returned, Gonda — who was under court order not to be alone with the child — sought his help, but Eckrote gave the baby back, saying he had to be up for work in the morning, according to prosecutors.
After finding the infant the next day, Gonda initially claimed she had placed the child safely into his bassinet, but admitted she lied when her other son told police his brother had been lying with his head in the cushions.
Gonda pleaded guilty in September 2015 to endangering the welfare of a child and corruption of minors, and was sentenced to 15 to 60 months in prison. Records show she has also been released but has absconded on her parole.
Department of Corrections Susan McNaughton said Eckrote was paroled from his sentence on Nov. 4, 2017, after serving his minimum sentence. His maximum term expires on Nov. 4, 2021, she said.

3/28/2018
Nanticoke man arrested after allegedly threatening to kill family
Times Leader

A city man threw himself on the floor of a holding cell, then began to cry and apologize for terrorizing his family during a domestic disturbance late Tuesday, according to arrest papers.
Nanticoke officers arrested David Alan Rausch, 24, after a foot chase that began at his house in the 300 block of West Main Street and ended in the 200 block of East Green Street at about 11:15 p.m.
Police allege Rausch assaulted Ruben Lopez and threatened to leave and return with a gun to kill everyone in his house.
Three children all under age 8 were at the residence at the time, police said.
Rausch was arraigned Wednesday in Luzerne County Central Court on five counts each of simple assault, terroristic threats, and one count each of resisting arrest, harassment and public drunkenness. He was jailed for lack of $25,000 bail.
Police noted Rausch is on state parole.

3/26/2018
Firecracker blamed in reported Nanticoke explosion
Eric Mark - Citizens Voice

A reported explosion at a city building on Sunday turned out to be a minor incident that might have involved fireworks, according to Nanticoke Fire Chief Kevin Hazleton.
Emergency officials received numerous calls about a loud noise that sounded like an explosion in the area of South Prospect and East Broad streets late Sunday afternoon, Hazleton said.
Investigators found one window of a building on the block had been broken, the chief said. It appears the damage was caused by the blast that people had reported hearing, Hazleton said. The noise might have come from someone setting off a large firecracker such as an M-80, he said.

3/24/2018
Nanticoke man who pleaded guilty to child porn gets new sentence
pkernan@timesleader.com

After a state appellate court ruled his original sentence was illegal, a Nanticoke man saw two years taken off his probation this week.
Micca Heppding, 37, was given the new sentence on Thursday by Luzerne County Judge Tina Polachek Gartley, after the appellate court called her original sentence “illegal.”
Heppding entered into a plea agreement with prosecutors, agreed to plead guilty to one count each of child pornography and corruption of minors, in exchange for other charges being withdrawn.
But after his sentencing in December 2016, his public defender, John Donovan, appealed, saying Polachek Gartley’s original sentence was “excessive.”
Polachek Gartley originally sentenced Heppding to between three and six years in state prison on the child porn count, which would then be followed by a 21 to 42 month long stay in prison and 36 months of probation on the corruption count.
The Superior Court, though, said the sentence on the corruption count “exceeds the statutory maximum” of five years, or 60 months — combined with the prison stay and probation, Heppding was looking at between 57 and 78 months, breaking state law.
Polachek Gartley was ordered to give Heppding a new sentence, as the Superior Court upheld his guilty plea. That new sentence looks a lot like the original. His punishment for the child porn count remains unchanged, and he’s still getting 21 to 42 months in prison on the corruption count, which will still be served after the child porn sentence.
The only difference is that Heppding will now get one year of probation instead of three, bringing the sentence below the state maximum.
Polachek Gartley also gave Heppding 823 days credit for time already served, shaving more than two years off the new sentence.
He was remanded to the State Correctional Institution at Camp Hill.

3/10/2018
Nanticoke police charge Harrisburg man with drug, firearm possession

City police arrested a Harrisburg man when they allegedly found marijuana and a stolen handgun inside his vehicle Thursday.
Patrick L. Knight, 31, was arrested when officers investigated a suspicious male and a vehicle driving erratically in the area of West Field Street and Lincoln Avenue at about 2:20 p.m., a report states.
Police spotted Knight leaning into a Buick LeSabre that was parked partially on the road and a yard. Police detected a strong odor of marijuana coming from Knight and the vehicle.
Knight told police he was from Hazleton and was reliving his childhood but did not know he was in Nanticoke.
Police spotted marijuana residue and the barrel of a handgun sticking out of a nylon bag. The gun’s serial number was altered, but police were able to get the correct number from the gun’s manufacturing box inside the vehicle. The serial number showed the handgun was reported stolen in Harrisburg.
A plastic bag of marijuana and a digital scale were also found in the vehicle.
Knight was arraigned on charges of receiving stolen property, possessing a firearm with an altered serial number, firearms not to be carried without a license, possession of marijuana, possession of drug paraphernalia and public drunkenness. He was jailed at the Luzerne County Correctional Facility for lack of $30,000 bail.

3/6/2018
Nanticoke man charged with drug trafficking after search
emark@citizensvoice.com

Police charged a Nanticoke man with drug trafficking on Monday after officers allegedly found drugs and paraphernalia during a search at his home.
Desmond Knott, 38, of 218 W. Ridge St., was arraigned Monday on felony counts of possession with intent to deliver a controlled substance, and misdemeanor counts of possession of a controlled substance and possession of drug paraphernalia.
According to a criminal complaint filed by Nanticoke and Hanover Twp. police:
The Luzerne County Drug Task Force served a search warrant at Knott’s home Monday morning. Knott was not there.
Officers found suspected marijuana, heroin/fentanyl, crack cocaine, two scales with powder residue and suspected drug paraphernalia.
Investigators found Knott at a West Pittston apartment. The resident, a woman, consented to a search of the apartment. In a safe, police found U.S. currency with serial numbers that matched those of “pre-recorded buy money” used in controlled drug purchases from Knott, the complaint states.
Knott told police that the woman who lives at the West Pittston apartment had nothing to do with the drugs found at his Nanticoke home. The woman told police that she would drive Knott around as he conducted drug deals and said she “was stupid for getting involved.”
A field test of the substances found at Knott’s home yielded positive results for marijuana, heroin/fentanyl and cocaine base, according to the complaint.
Following his arraignment, Knott was sent to Luzerne County Correctional Facility in lieu of $100,000 bail. A preliminary hearing is scheduled for March 14 before Magisterial District Judge Joseph Halesey.

2/22/2018
Nanticoke student had weapons on school property
elewis@timesleader.com

A student at Greater Nanticoke Area High School was charged Thursday with possessing axes and knives inside his vehicle on school property.
City police alleged school officer Ray Whittaker spotted an axe with a 35-inch handle on the passenger side floor of a Mazda Protege parked in the rear parking lot near the gymnasium just after 12 p.m.
The vehicle is registered with a school parking permit to Dylan Jeffrey White, 18, of West South Street, Nanticoke.
Whittaker notified school officials who spoke with White.
Police searched the vehicle allegedly finding an 11-inch knife in the glove box, a fully extended 9-inch knife in a console and a 13-inch hatchet under the driver’s side seat, according to the criminal complaint.
White was charged with a misdemeanor count of possession of a weapon on school property. He was arraigned by District Judge Donald Whittaker in Nanticoke and jailed at the Luzerne County Correctional Facility for lack of $100,000 bail.
Superintendent Dr. Ronald Grevera could not be immediately reached for comment Thursday afternoon.

2/22/2019
Woman sentenced for role in drug ring
James Halpin - Citizens Voice

A Nanticoke woman will serve more than two years in federal prison for her role in a heroin trafficking ring, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
Megan Fox, 31, was sentenced Tuesday to serve 30 months in prison for conspiring to distribute heroin in Luzerne County in early 2014, prosecutors said. According to prosecutors, Fox admitted to helping a drug ring distribute as much as 1 kilogram of heroin, the equivalent of up to 40,000 bags.
The ring leader, Desmond Mercer, previously pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 14 years in prison.
In addition to the prison time for Fox, Senior U.S. District Court Judge James M. Munley ordered her to forfeit nearly $16,000 and a Buick vehicle that was seized in the investigation. She will also be required to serve three years probation upon her release.

2/20/2018
PRESS RELEASE
February 20, 2018

Incident: Retail Theft
Location: Rite Aid Pharmacy 5 East Main St. Nanticoke City
Date: February 19, 2018

Nanticoke City Police responded to the Rite Aid Pharmacy 5 East Main St. Nanticoke City for the report of a retail theft shortly after 11am.
A white male took possession of merchandise and ran out of the store when confronted by loss prevention personnel.A surveillance photo of the white male is attached. Anyone with information regarding his identity is asked to contact the Nanticoke City Police at 570-735-2200.

 

 

2/7/2018
Police: Pot-smoking parents charged after tot goes unresponsive
James Halpin - Citizens Voice

Two city parents are facing child endangerment charges after their 18-month-old child became unresponsive in a house filled with marijuana smoke, according to police.
Raheem Twyman, 21, and Kayla Marie Bitzer, 25, both of 231 E. Green St., are accused of putting their three children in danger when they smoked marijuana in the house Tuesday afternoon.
According to a police affidavit, police and medics were dispatched to the family home at exactly 4:20 p.m. to a report of an unresponsive child. Police arrived and found medics treating the 18-month-old baby, who was taken to Wilkes-Barre General Hospital.
Bitzer, the mother, told police she and Twyman had been in the basement smoking marijuana while her three children — 18-month-old twins and a 3-year-old — remained on the first floor of the home, police said.
Twyman reported that the 3-year-old came to the basement door to say that the younger children were climbing on a table, so he went upstairs, according to the affidavit. One of the toddlers was on the table, limp and unresponsive, so Twyman yelled to Bitzer for help, police said.
Another resident of the home told police he had been asleep upstairs when Bitzer came up asking him to call 911, according to the affidavit.
Police say the first floor and basement of the house smelled strongly of marijuana, and that Twyman turned over the remaining marijuana he had along with a marijuana grinder and blunt cigars.
The two children who were not hospitalized were taken into protective custody. Officials said the child who was treated was discharged from the hospital later Tuesday.
Police charged both parents with three felony counts of child endangerment and a misdemeanor count of possessing marijuana.
Magisterial District Judge Donald L. Whittaker arraigned them on Wednesday morning. The judge released Bitzer on $75,000 unsecured bail but ordered Twyman jailed at the Luzerne County Correctional Facility with bail set at $75,000.
Preliminary hearings were set for Feb. 14.

2/3/2018
Former Nanticoke mayor ruled incompetent in child luring case
James Halpin - Citizens Voice

A former teacher and Nanticoke mayor who was accused of trying to lure children into his car with cash will not stand trial after a psychiatrist deemed him incompetent.
Edward J. Butkiewicz, 76, is facing misdemeanor charges of child luring and corruption of minors for allegedly trying to coax kids into his car with promises of cash in exchange for doing “weird” things.
But Luzerne County Judge Michael T. Vough has signed an order staying the case indefinitely, writing that Dr. Richard E. Fischbein determined Butkiewicz is not competent to stand trial.
A source with knowledge of the case said Butkiewicz has vascular dementia.
The court order calls for Butkiewicz to be re-evaluated later this year to determine whether he will be able to regain competency to stand trial.
Butkiewicz, of Mountain Top, is accused of roaming around and trying to coax children into his car along Rock Street in Glen Lyon last July. According to prosecutors, the first encounter involved a 13-year-old boy who said he was in the parking lot of an apartment complex when a silver car pulled up.
Butkiewicz asked the youth if there were any bars in the area, then asked if he could see the boy’s genitals, prosecutors said. The boy also described Butkiewicz saying he wanted to do “weird” things to him and offering money to get in the car, according to prosecutors.
A few days later, a 16-year-old boy reported that Butkiewicz had approached him twice. The first encounter was at Rock and East Main streets, where Butkiewicz asked if the boy was gay and wanted to make money, prosecutors said.
The second took place West Main and Market streets in Glen Lyon, where Butkiewicz asked the teen and another boy if they wanted to make money, prosecutors said.
Butkiewicz followed them into a Rock Street apartment complex, where they called 911. In addition to the luring and corruption charges, Butkiewicz is also facing charges of disorderly conduct and resisting arrest; police say he pushed back against the arresting officer.
He has been free since posting $100,000 bail last August. Vough’s order says bail will continue pending the follow-up examination.
Butkiewicz, a retired elementary school teacher in the Greater Nanticoke Area School District, served terms as a Nanticoke City councilman and mayor prior to facing similar charges in 2003. In that case, a former student of Butkiewicz’s told police Butkiewicz had pulled up and offered a ride, fondling the boy as they drove through Nanticoke and Hanover Twp.
Butkiewicz pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge of indecent assault in that case and was sentenced to two years of probation.

2/2/2018
Raid on Nanticoke drug house turns up dope, cash, kids
James Halpin - Citizens Voice

Three children were removed from a home and four adults were arrested after police raided a suspected drug house Thursday afternoon and found large quantities of heroin and marijuana.
Officers raided the home at 200 W. Main St. around 4 p.m. Thursday after a confidential informant bought heroin from two of its occupants on three occasions since November, according to police.
The Luzerne County Drug Task Force entered the home after officers knocked and heard what sounded like people running around inside. Upon entering, police found the two targets of their investigation: Tarrell T. Humphrey, 33, and Daurron Jamison, 22.
A search of Humphrey turned up 60 bags of “PANTHER” brand heroin, the same type the confidential informant bought from both men during the lead up to the raid, police said.
In the upstairs master bedroom, which belongs to Walter Daymon Humphrey, 43, and Sadiqa Imanihamd Caines, 41, police found a large amount of marijuana, drug packaging materials, cash and a digital scale that was coated with white powder, according to police.
The cash was inside a purse in a closet where police also found three vacuum-sealed bags, each weighing about 120 grams, according to police. The contents of the vacuum bags tested positive for heroin, police said.
Police say Luzerne County Children and Youth Services caseworkers responded to the home and removed Caines’ three children, delivering them to a relative. Nanticoke City Code Enforcement was also apprised of the situation at the home, a rental property.
Police charged all four adults with drug trafficking, conspiracy to deliver drugs, drug possession and possession of drug paraphernalia. Tarrell Humphrey was also hit with counts of criminal use of a communication facility.
Magisterial District judge David A. Barilla arraigned the quartet on the charges Friday morning and set bail for each of them at $75,000. They were being held at the Luzerne County Correctional Facility with preliminary hearings set for Feb. 21.

2/1/2018
Police: 300 kids involved in GNA-WVW brawl
Bob Kalinowski - Citizens Voice

A brawl involving up to 300 students erupted Tuesday night outside Wyoming Valley West High School after the school hosted a boys basketball game against Greater Nanticoke Area, police said.
Larksville police Sgt. Josh Evans, who was working security for the game, said the student sections for both schools were animated and they clashed after the heated contest, which Nanticoke won 69-62.
“It was a rivalry game. There was a large crowd on both sides. After the game, things got out of hand. There was a large disturbance,” Evans said.
While the school is in Plymouth, Larksville police provide security during games.
Evans said he and his partner radioed for backup from Plymouth and Edwardsville police when it appeared trouble was likely. He said the clashing sides were soon separated.
Punches were thrown, but there didn’t appear to be any serious injuries, he said.
Plymouth police would only confirm they are investigating a “large fight” involving juveniles that occurred on Wyoming Valley West school property.
The fight was reported around 8:38 p.m., police said.
Plymouth police said the brawl was investigated and juveniles that were interviewed were released to parents and guardians.
Investigators didn’t say if charges would be filed.
Police say they are reviewing video of the fight.
Efforts to reach Valley West and Nanticoke school officials about the incident were not successful.

1/29/2018
Nanticoke man charged with repeated rape of child
Eric Mark - Citizens Voice

A Nanticoke man repeatedly raped a girl starting when she was 8 years old, city police allege.
Jason Buchanan, 36, was arraigned Sunday on a slew of felony charges, including rape of a child, statutory sexual assault, sexual assault, aggravated indecent assault of a child, indecent assault of a person less than 13 years of age, unlawful contact with a minor and corruption of a minor.
According to a criminal complaint filed by Nanticoke police, the victim, now 15, last month reported that Buchanan had sexually assaulted her since she was 8. The girl was interviewed at the Luzerne County Child Advocacy Center.
The girl said that Buchanan would come into her bedroom and perform sex acts. She said that when she asked Buchanan if he had to do this, he replied “Yes, we have to,” the affidavit states. Buchanan also sexually assaulted the girl at least once outside the home, according to the affidavit.
Buchanan told the girl she is beautiful and warned her not to tell anyone because he “could get in so much trouble,” the affidavit states.
The girl said she is afraid of Buchanan because he had been physically abusive toward her, according to the affidavit. She also said Buchanan told her that if she ever needed anything sexual, she could go to him and he would “help her out,” the affidavit states.
Buchanan’s wife, Evalynn Buchanan, 35, was charged with a felony count of endangering the welfare of a child in connection with the case, according to court documents.
Both Buchanans are being held in Luzerne County Correctional Facility in lieu of $500,000 bail, pending a preliminary hearing scheduled for Feb. 7 before Magisterial District Judge Donald Whittaker.

1/26/2018
Judge calls rapist 'predator,' imposes decades in prison
James Halpin- Citizens Voice

A Nanticoke man convicted of raping a teenage girl, trying to molest her sister, and trying to force himself another woman was sentenced Friday to serve up to 50 years in state prison.
Glynn A. Wildoner, 38, of 223 W. Union St., offered a brief apology as he stood in court before Luzerne County Judge Michael T. Vough, who appeared unmoved by the gesture. The judge noted that Wildoner was out on bail on the charges stemming from the abuse of the sisters when he tried to sexually assault a female relative.
“To me you’re a predator,” Vough said. “You’re a danger to this community. ... You need to be taken out of society for a very, very, long time.”
Wildoner was first arrested in June 2016 on child rape charges alleging he forced himself on a 14-year-old girl and tried to have sex with the girl’s sister. According to prosecutors, the girl’s mother caught Wildoner when she unlocked her daughter’s bedroom door and found the teen on the floor with her pants down and Wildoner on top of her.
The girl told police she had been trying to take a nap when Wildoner woke her by putting his hand over her mouth, saying “stay the (expletive) down,” according to prosecutors. Wildoner then forced himself on the teen, warning that he would hurt her if she told anyone, prosecutors said.
The girl told prosecutors that Wildoner had raped her before, and her sister reported that several months earlier Wildoner tried to pressure her into having sex but she refused.
Police hit Wildoner with child rape and related charges, but he posted $100,000 bail through a bondsman 11 days after his arrest. While out on bail, prosecutors say Wildoner went to a female relative’s apartment and made sexual advances on her, putting his hands down her pants and offering her $100 in exchange for sex.
Wildoner was again arrested, this time on charges of indecent assault.
In October, he went to trial on the rape case and a jury convicted him on multiple counts of rape, statutory sexual assault, unlawful contact with a minor and related offenses. Earlier this month, Wildoner then pleaded guilty to indecent assault and promoting prostitution in the second case.
During the sentencing hearing Friday, defense attorney John Donovan sought a sentence of 10-20 years in prison, arguing that Wildoner has a limited criminal history and that a longer sentence could amount to life in prison.
“By the time this sentence is complete, he will be in his late 50s,” Donovan said. “It will let him lead some kind of a life.”
But Assistant District Attorney Angela Sperrazza sought more time behind bars, describing Wildoner’s conduct as “horrible” and noting that he victimized three people.
“This wasn’t one slip up,” Sperrazza said. “This wasn’t one incident. This was a pattern of behavior that only stopped when (the girl’s) mother walked in on it.”
Vough sentenced Wildoner to 25 to 50 years in state prison, ordering him to have no contact with the victims and to register as a sex offender for life. The judge ordered Wildoner sent to the state Department of Corrections as soon as possible, giving him credit for 193 days time served.

1/26/2018
Patient death leads to felony charge for Nanticoke nurse
James Halpin- Citizens Voice

A registered nurse whose patient died under her care was charged Friday with a felony count of neglect of care alleging she failed to take adequate precautions after being warned her patient was in distress.
Kelly E. Levandowski, 39, of 35 rear W. South St., is accused of “intentionally, knowingly or negligently” failing to provide sufficient care to Melvin Johnson, 72, who died after going into cardiac arrest at Guardian Elder Care at 147 Old Newport St., on June 20, 2013.
According to a complaint filed by the state Attorney General’s Office, the criminal investigation began after the state Department of Health cited Guardian in 2013 for failing to provide adequate monitoring over the incident.
The complaint says that Johnson had suffered from a ruptured aneurism and subsequent bleeding of the brain prior to being admitted at Guardian on the day of her death. She had been on a ventilator, but was weened off of it prior to admission, according to the complaint.
The Guardian staff did not immediately put Johnson on 15-minute checks because there was no evidence that she had been pulling on a breathing tube upon admission, the complaint says. However staff on the 3-11 p.m. shift that day did observe Johnson pulling on the tube, and at least four members told Levandowski, a shift supervisor, that they were concerned about it, the complaint says.
Levandowski, however, stayed seated at the nursing station, according to the charges.
When Johnson pulled it out shortly after 7 p.m. that evening, Levandowski reinserted it herself and called Johnson’s doctor, but did not call 911 as required by facility policy, the complaint says. Levandowski also wrote in her notes that 15-minute checks were to continue, although prosecutors say there is no evidence that they had started previously.
“If 15-minute checks were in place at that time, they were proven to be ineffective, as Johnson was not adequately supervised in that she was able to remove her tube,” the complaint says.
About a half-hour after the first incident, another nurse discovered that Johnson had again removed the tube and was unresponsive, according to the complaint.
Levandowski’s notes indicate she tried unsuccessfully to reinsert the tube and performed CPR until medics arrived on scene. However, prosecutors noted in the complaint that no other staff members were able to corroborate Levandowski’s claim that she tried to save Johnson.
In fact, one nurse aide told investigators that after Johnson died, Levandowski directed her to fill out a form indicating 15-minute checks had been performed on Johnson since 3 p.m., even though they had not been. The aide reported that she complied because Levandowski was her boss and she felt intimidated, prosecutors said.
Another nursing aide also told investigators that someone had forged her initials on a check sheet for earlier in the afternoon, the complaint says.
During questioning, Levandowski told investigators that she should have called 911 and put Johnson under constant supervision after the first incident, but that “a lot was missed that night, obviously.”
The complaint alleges Levandowski engaged in criminal neglect of a patient for failing to take those steps, which are required under facility policy.
The complaint says Levandowski stopped working for Guardian in July 2015.
Magisterial District Judge Donald L. Whittaker arraigned Levandowski on Friday morning and released her on $25,000 unsecured bail.
A preliminary hearing was set for Feb. 7.

1/25/2018
Camera recorded man using stolen credit card in Nanticoke
Times Leader

City police on Thursday released surveillance pictures of a man using a reported stolen credit card at the Turkey Hill store on West Main Street last month.
Police said the credit card was stolen from a location on East Grand Street on Dec. 24, and used the same day at about 11:17 p.m. at the Turkey Hill store.
The man recorded in surveillance pictures operated a white Jeep Grand Cherokee.

1/20/2018
Nanticoke man acquitted on most charges in rape case
James Halpin - Citizens Voice

A Nanticoke man accused of rape was acquitted at trial of nearly all the charges against him Friday.
Christopher Bates, 44, faced charges including forcible rape, aggravated assault and false imprisonment alleging he forced himself on a woman at knife-point.
Prosecutors alleged Bates attacked the woman while she was sleeping around 2 a.m. Nov. 12, 2016, putting duct tape on her mouth and pulling a knife on her as he raped her.
But after about two hours of deliberations Friday, a jury found Bates not guilty on 18 of the 20 counts he faced. The jury convicted him on one misdemeanor count of simple assault, and Luzerne County Judge Michael T. Vough found Bates guilty on a summary harassment violation.
Bates was represented by Kingston attorney Nanda Palissery.

1/19/2018
Nanticoke man pleads guilty to string of robberies
James Halpin - Citizens Voice

A Nanticoke man accused in three robbery cases pleaded guilty Thursday.
Bobby Wicks, 40, pleaded guilty to charges of robbery, attempted robbery, conspiracy to commit robbery and simple assault. Luzerne County Judge Michael T. Vough accepted the plea and set sentencing for March 9.
Wicks was charged in three Nanticoke robberies: the robbery of the Cocoa Hut convenience store on Nov. 19, the attempted robbery of a Curry Donuts shop on Nov. 16, and an armed robbery of the Burger King on Nov. 13.
Wicks was remanded to the Luzerne County Correctional Facility pending sentencing.

1/19/2018
Laurel Run man pleads guilty to sex assault charges
James Halpin - Citizens Voice

A Laurel Run man accused of sexually assaulting a 15-year-old girl pleaded guilty Thursday to a felony count of statutory sexual assault.
Christopher Cornell, 21, pleaded to a single count of the offense, with prosecutors dropping other charges. Luzerne County Judge Joseph F. Sklarosky Jr. accepted the plea and set sentencing for Feb. 26.
According to prosecutors, Cornell was 20 and the girl was 15 when they had sexual intercourse on multiple occasions last July at a home on East Noble Street in Nanticoke.
As part of his sentence, Cornell will be required to complete sex offender counseling.

1/16/2018
Police: Woman forced to perform oral sex in front of children
elewis@timesleader.com

A Monroe County man was arraigned Tuesday on charges he forced a woman to perform a oral sex in front of children inside an East Green Street residence.
Deon Hosmond Blair, 27, of Henryville, was arrested by Nanticoke police while investigating a domestic dispute at the residence just before 11 p.m. Monday.
A witness told police Blair was keeping a woman against her will inside the residence.
Police noticed the woman had facial and head injuries and pleaded with officers she needed help because Blair was hurting her, according to the criminal complaint.
Blair told officers to leave the residence.
When Blair was told that police were investigating a domestic dispute, Blair asked the witness to speak privately.
Police learned Blair was wanted by East Stroudsburg University police on assault and harassment charges stemming from an incident on Nov. 9. After he was handcuffed and taken away from the residence, the woman allegedly claimed he assaulted her.
She alleged Blair slapped and punched her and forced her to perform a lewd sex act on him in front of three children, ages 2, 1 and three months, the complaint says.
Police said the woman was transported to Commonwealth Wilkes-Barre General Hospital for treatment.
Blair was charged with two counts each with indecent assault and simple assault and a single count of harassment. He was jailed at the Luzerne County Correctional Facility for lack of $20,000 bail and on the arrest warrant from East Stroudsburg University.