Nanticoke Police Department - 2019
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Standoff ends after man surrenders in Nanticoke
Bob Kalinowski - Citizens Voice

Facing a massive presence of police in tactical gear ready to swarm, a Nanticoke man who threatened to shoot anyone who approached his home surrendered Wednesday afternoon following a standoff that lasted several hours.
“He gave himself up without incident,” Nanticoke police Chief Tom Wall said. “I guess when he looked outside and saw everything happening, he decided to give himself up.”
Police said the man, Andrew Blake, 31, was taken for an involuntary mental health commitment after he walked out of his 217 W. Green St. home.
More than 50 members of the Pennsylvania State Police Special Emergency Response Team were assembled near the man’s house ready to make forcible entry if necessary. A state police armored vehicle, known as The Rook, was on hand.
Nanticoke police said the standoff began Wednesday morning after city police obtained an involuntary mental health commitment against Blake after getting complaints about his alleged bizarre behavior.
After police tried to make contact, Blake left his home and shot out a neighbor’s surveillance cameras with a pellet gun, police said.
Police said Blake then returned to his house and did not respond to subsequent attempts to contact him.
“He had signs posted that if anyone tried to enter his house, he would shoot them,” Wall said.
Wall said Blake was known to possess a crossbow and neighbors have complained about him shooting the weapon in his yard. It is believed the man used the crossbow to have killed a groundhog and a neighbor’s cat, Wall said.
During the standoff, West Main Street was shut down between Fairchild Street and Alden Road.
City police said charges are pending against Blake.

Former Nanticoke firefighter sentenced to prison for sexually abusing girl
Bob Kalinowski - Citizens Voice

A former Nanticoke volunteer firefighter will spend at least six years in state prison for sexually abusing an 8-year-old girl.
Michael L. Sansone, 31, was convicted in October of having illegal contact with a minor.
Luzerne County Judge Michael Vough on Tuesday sentenced Sansone to serve 72 to 144 months in state prison.
Sansone was accused of sexually assaulting the girl several times leading up to his arrest in May 2016. He was immediately removed as a volunteer firefighter after being arrested.
At trial, Sansone was also convicted of corruption of minors and endangering the welfare of children. He was acquitted of rape.

Pounds of marijuana seized from house
Police Blotter - Times Leader

State police and city police arrested Oscar Alfredo Diaz-Flores, 26, and Elizabeth Collazo Perez, 25, on drug trafficking charges when a large amount of marijuana was allegedly found inside their residence on Monday.
Authorities served a search warrant at 94 Front St. where three packages weighing approximately 17 pounds, drug paraphernalia and packaging materials were found, according to the criminal complaint.
It was not known what led authorities to serve the search warrant.
Diaz-Flores and Perez were each charged with possession with intent to deliver a controlled substance, possession of a controlled substance, possession of marijuana and possession of drug paraphernalia.
District Judge Matthew C. Christopher in Luzerne County Central Court arraigned the duo and jailed them at the county correctional facility for lack of $75,000 bail each.

Edwardsville man accused of robbing Nanticoke pharmacy

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.

Nanticoke man stabbed in robbery

A Nanticoke man was stabbed in the shoulder during a reported robbery Thursday afternoon, according to police.
Officers were dispatched to 224 Coal St. around 3:20 p.m. to a report that a 34-year-old man had been stabbed. They found the victim bleeding profusely, having been stabbed in the upper shoulder, police said.
The man, whom police did not name, was taken to a local hospital for treatment.
He initially told investigators he was robbed at one location but then changed the location during subsequent questioning, police said.
The man then told police he no longer wanted to speak to investigators and he would not pursue charges if his attacker were captured, according to police.

Man to stand trial for allegedly fleeing scene of crash
James Halpin - Citizens Voice

A Nanticoke man accused of fleeing the scene of a crash that seriously injured a 72-year-old man waived his right to a preliminary hearing on Wednesday.
John Charles Gajewski, 64, of 65 Hill St., will stand trial on a felony charge of fleeing the scene of an injury accident. In exchange for the waiver, prosecutors dropped additional summary counts against Gajewski, including failing to render aid and careless driving.
Police said Gajewski spent the day drinking at a bar before hitting Harold Rinehimer and fleeing the scene in a panic the night of Jan. 20.
Rinehimer was hit as he crossed East Broad and Market streets, and officers said they found him lying in the northbound lane of South Market Street saying he had been hit by a car that "came out of nowhere."
Rinehimer sustained broken bones, abrasions and contusions in the crash and was treated and released from Geisinger Wyoming Valley Medical Center.
Gajewski remains free on $100,000 unsecured bail.

Nanticoke man waives hearing on hit-run charges

Still recovering from being struck by a vehicle that fled the scene nearly three months ago, 78-year-old Harold Rinehimer was smiling as he positioned himself behind the alleged driver, John Charles Gajewski, on Wednesday.
Gajewski, 64, of Hill Street, Nanticoke, was charged by Nanticoke police with driving away after striking Rinehimer in the 100 block of South Market Street on Jan. 20.
Gajewski appeared in Luzerne County Central Court, where he waived a single count of accidents involving personal injury to county court.
Rinehimer suffered head and facial injuries, and serious injuries to his legs, spine and ribs, police said, while a large laceration on his scalp continues to heal.
Police said surveillance cameras showed Rinehimer being thrown into the air and Gajewski swerving his vehicle into oncoming traffic, indicating he was aware he struck a pedestrian.
Gajewski initially denied he was involved but later admitted he struck Rinehimer, court records say.
Police said they located a 2016 Malibu with passenger-side damage parked near Gajewski's residence several days after the incident.
Gajewski claimed his vehicle was struck by another vehicle weeks earlier in the parking lot of a food market in Wilkes-Barre but later recanted, telling police he was at Larry's Pizza consuming eight to 10 cans of beer during his stay, court records say.
Gajewski allegedly told police he left Larry's and drove on South Market Street on his way home.
Police in court records say they found Rinehimer's bodily fluids on Gajewski's vehicle.
Prosecutors withdrew four traffic summary offenses against Gajewski.
During the brief proceeding before District Judge Joseph Halesey, Rinehimer - using a walker
- stood behind Gajewski. Needing to move closer to his attorney, Nanda Palissery, Gajewski with a grim face looked and nodded his head at Rinehimer.
Gajewski remains free on $100,000 unsecured bail.

Trial in Nanticoke woman's murder pushed back to 2020
jhalpin -

The trial against capital murder suspect Anthony Spudis is on hold until next year as attorneys work to track down dozens of witnesses and a judge contemplates a host of pre-trial motions.
Spudis, 36, is charged with criminal homicide, burglary and robbery in the death of 97-year-old Gertrude Price, whose family found her bloodied body in her bed at 23 E. Grand St. in Nanticoke on Nov. 29, 2013. He is accused of brutally beating and stabbing the elderly woman with a screwdriver during a break-in at her home.
During a hearing Wednesday, the defense said it is working to track down more than four dozen potential witnesses for the three-week trial that was set to begin next month, and requested a continuance.
Luzerne County Judge Tina Polachek Gartley continued the trial until Jan. 6 at the defense's request.
That will give her more time to rule on a number of pending motions that were also addressed during the hearing, including a motion to suppress a search warrant for a property at 2 W. Union St. Spudis lived at the address with his girlfriend at the time of the murder.
In court Wednesday, defense attorney Robert Saurman noted that the warrant application said Price's Access and Medicare cards, as well as some of her family photos, were found at 2 E. Union St.
State Trooper Edward J. Urban said it was a "typographical error" and noted that the other supporting documents indicated the property was in fact 2 W. Union St.
"It's an error that we missed," Urban said.
Gartley will rule on that and the other motions at a later date.

Trial for alleged killer Spudis pushed back to 2020

At a motions hearing on Wednesday, the trial of a man accused of stabbing a 97-year-old woman to death during a Thanksgiving break-in five years ago was once again postponed at the behest of the defense.
Anthony Spudis, 36, was in court on Wednesday before Luzerne County Judge Tina Polachek Gartley, who heard a series of motions in relation to his case.
Spudis is facing an open count of criminal homicide along with counts of burglary and robbery after he allegedly broke into the Nanticoke home of Gertrude Price on Nov. 28, 2013. Prosecutors say he stabbed Price several times in the head in what has been characterized as a burglary turned violent, and they are pursuing the death penalty in the case.
Spudis' attorney, Robert Saurman, made a motion to have the trial continued from its scheduled date in late May, saying the defense team needed more time to prepare.
Gartley re-scheduled Spudis' trial for Jan. 6, 2020, blocking out a full week for jury selection and setting aside two more weeks for the trial.
This is the second continuance in the case; Spudis was originally set to go to trial last November.
Warrant motion
The court also heard arguments related to other motions, including a motion to suppress the findings of a search warrant that was conducted on the home Spudis lived in at the time of the robbery. The search in question was conducted in 2017, years after he moved out.
In the ceiling boards of the home's basement, police say they found a bag containing items that belonged to Price and bore her name. Pennsylvania State Trooper Edward Urban testified that, while the bag was missed during a search in 2014, photos from that search show it poking out of the ceiling.
Saurman focused on inconsistencies in the filing of the search warrant, namely that the search warrant states it was for a home located at 2 E. Union St., Nanticoke, when the search was actually conducted at 2 W. Union St. Urban characterized this as a typographical error.
Gartley's ruling on the motion will come at a later date.

Nanticoke man allegedly beat woman at house party in Edwardsville

A Nanticoke man was arraigned Wednesday for allegedly beating up a woman at a house party.
Nashim T. Coleman, also known as "Smoove," 24, of 120 E. Green St., is accused of punching and kicking a woman after the two got into an argument.
According to a criminal complaint:
Officers from Edwardsville responded to apartments at 9 Beech St. just before 3 p.m. Dec. 15.
When they arrived, they were met by a female victim, who had a swollen left eye, scratch on her neck, swollen left knee and a small bruise on her left calf.
She told police she was kicked in the face by a black man, later identified as Coleman. The officer went into the apartment to speak to other people at the party.
The partygoers said they were smoking marijuana and drinking alcohol with no issue until Coleman started to make fun of the victim's height.
After starting off as a joke, the victim began to get upset and engaged in a verbal altercation with Coleman when he walked into the kitchen out of sight.
The victim pushed Coleman into a table. That was followed by a loud crash, and Coleman and the victim were seen "rolling around" on the living room floor.
Coleman then smashed the victim's head off the ground several times and kicked her in the face. The victim was able to get up and call 9-1-1.
She was later transported to Geisinger Wyoming Valley Medical Center.
Coleman is charged with simple assault, harassment and disorderly conduct. He was released on $10,000 unsecured bail.

Court records: DNA of murder suspect's girlfriend found at scene

Taryn Simms' DNA was discovered at the home of 97-year-old Gertrude Price, who was found dead inside her Nanticoke residence in 2013, according to a recent court filing.
Simms' ex-boyfriend, Anthony Spudis, 36, was charged with killing Price during a burglary on East Grand Street on Nov. 28, 2013 - the day after Thanksgiving.
Spudis is facing the death penalty if convicted of first-degree murder. His trial is set to begin May 28 before Luzerne County Judge Tina Polachek Gartley.
Simms' alleged connection to Price's death remains questionable as she apparently gave different accounts. She has not been charged.
Simms told investigators she went with Spudis to Price's house only after he confided to her that he may had killed a woman during a burglary, court papers say.
When Simms testified against Spudis at a preliminary hearing in April 2018, she opted not to answer any questions about being inside Price's house.
Investigators allege Spudis entered Price's home through a basement window with intentions to steal items but killed the elderly woman when confronted. Spudis left Price's house and returned to a residence he shared with Simms at 2 W. Union St., Nanticoke, where he confided he may have killed a woman.
It was then, arrest papers say, Simms accompanied Spudis to Price's address.
During Spudis' preliminary hearing, attorney John Pike suggested evidence tested at the state police crime lab showed Simms' DNA in various places: on a broken necklace next to a bed where Price's body was found; on a flathead screwdriver believed to be the murder weapon; on a serrated knife; and on the busted basement window.
Pike was permitted by court order to cease representing Spudis due to a conflict of interest.
Spudis is now represented by attorneys Robert A. Saurman and Brian S. Gaglione, both of Stroudsburg.
In a recently filed pre-trial motion by Spudis' attorneys, they again pointed to Simms' DNA being found at the scene and on items inside Price's house.
In response, assistant district attorneys Michelle A. Hardik and Daniel Zola acknowledged Simms' DNA was "present, in addition to that of Anthony Spudis."
Simms' attorney, Nanda Palissery, could not be reached for comment Thursday.
Judge Polachek Gartley imposed a gag order prohibiting attorneys involved in Spudis' case from publicly discussing details.
Defense attorneys are seeking to have Spudis' statements to investigators thrown out, including evidence allegedly found in the basement of his West Union Street home.
A pre-trial hearing is set for April 10.

Police: Nanticoke man caused damage to house, believed people in walls ‘spying’

A Nanticoke man may had been under the influence of bath salts when he ripped apart a house believing people in walls were “spying” on him, according to court records.
Damion Michael Sweeney, 39, of Maple Street, was arraigned Monday on charges of burglary and possession of a controlled substance in connection to the incident at a house on state Route 29 in Lake Township on Oct. 19.
According to the criminal complaint:
State police responded to the house and spoke with the owner’s parents, who were checking on the residence since their son was away.
The parents told a trooper they noticed a Chevrolet TrailBlazer in the driveway and Sweeney exiting the house. They also noticed extensive damage inside the residence.
Sweeney allegedly told the parents about “people,” “things inside the walls spying on him,” and “trying to get the people and things in the walls,” the complaint says.
The homeowner told police he knows Sweeney and allowed him to stay at the house for two or three days in July 2018. Sweeney did not have permission to be at the house in October.
State police said drywall was ripped away exposing wood studs in the kitchen, living room, family room, bedrooms, a stairwell, a bathroom and ceiling. There was also damage to rain gutters on the porch and a UGI electrical utility meter had a tag removed, the complaint says.
Several days after the burglary and vandalism, state police said the homeowner found a bag containing a controlled substance that tested positive for bath salts.
The homeowner’s insurance company, Allstate, estimated damage at $54,433, the complaint says.
Sweeney was arraigned by District Judge Matthew C. Christopher in Luzerne County Central Court on charges of burglary, criminal trespass, criminal mischief and possession of a controlled substance. He was jailed at the county correctional facility for lack of $50,000 bail.

McNeal gets decades in prison for 2017 Nanticoke homicide

Convicted killer Antoine McNeal, 34, won’t be eligible for parole until he’s almost 66 under a sentence handed down Monday.
A jury in January found McNeal, of Wilkes-Barre, guilty on counts of third-degree murder, criminal use of a communications facility, robbery and tampering with evidence.
He was convicted of fatally shooting 20-year-old Brandon Smith in a van outside of Smith’s Nanticoke home in the early morning hours of Jan. 18, 2017.
At trial, prosecutors painted the attack as a robbery gone wrong, accusing him of going to Smith’s home to buy $500 worth of marijuana. Upon arrival, they said McNeal shot Smith twice and stole a handful of Percocet pills Smith had in his possession.
McNeal appeared in court on Monday before Luzerne County Judge Tina Polachek Gartley for sentencing. The judge allowed members of Smith’s family to address the court first.
Smith’s sister, Destiny Crooks, had harsh words for McNeal.
“I don’t believe he’s sorry for what he did,” Crooks said. “I pray for him, I pray someday he’s remorseful for what he did.”
Briefly addressing the court himself, McNeal didn’t express any remorse, instead, maintaining he had nothing to do with the shooting.
“Condolences to the family but I had no part of what happened to your son,” he said. “I’m sorry.”
McNeal said nothing else.
A large part of McNeal’s defense throughout his week-long trial was that he was not involved with the crime, claiming that prosecutors did not have enough physical evidence to convict him. However, a cell phone that was eventually found to belong to McNeal was retrieved from the van Smith was shot in.
Before issuing her sentence, Gartley expressed condolences to Smith’s family.
“At the sentencing stage, there isn’t much to say,” she said. “Nothing will bring your son back.”
Gartley ordered McNeal to spend an aggregate 31 to 63 years in prison. McNeal was granted 678 days credit for time served.
He will be required to pay nearly $20,000 in restitution. The bulk of that money will go to the Pennsylvania State Police to cover for lab work done during investigation.
An additional charge of possession of a firearm by a felon, which had been severed from the trial, was withdrawn by prosecutors.
McNeal was remanded back to the Luzerne County Correctional Facility after sentencing pending transfer to a state prison.

Convicted killer Antoine McNeal was sentenced Monday to serve up to 63 years in state prison.
James Halpin - Citizens Voice

A jury convicted McNeal, 34, of third-degree murder, criminal use of a communications device, tampering with evidence and robbery following a trial in January.
Luzerne County Judge Tina Polachek Gartley imposed the sentence Monday, ordering McNeal to serve roughly 31½ to 63 years in state prison. The judge gave McNeal credit for 678 days time served and ordered him to pay more than $18,100 in restitution.
Prosecutors alleged McNeal set up a drug deal to buy $500 worth of marijuana from 20-year-old Brandon Smith early the morning of Jan. 18, 2017. After arriving at Smith’s West Church Street home in Nanticoke, McNeal shot him twice in the chest and robbed him of Percocet pills Smith had in his pocket, prosecutors said.
The defense maintained that although McNeal set up the drug deal, he arrived at Smith’s home to find Smith with another, unidentified person. As McNeal was walking, gunshots rang out and he ran back to his girlfriend’s car saying, “We got to get out of here. They’re shooting,” according to the girlfriend’s testimony.

Man, 64, charged in Nanticoke hit-run crash
James Halpin - Citizens Voice

A Nanticoke man was charged Tuesday with fleeing the scene of a crash that seriously injured a 72-year-old man last month.
Police say John Charles Gajewski, 64, of 65 Hill St., spent the day drinking at a bar before hitting Harold Rinehimer and fleeing the scene in a panic the night of Jan. 20.
Rinehimer was hit as he crossed East Broad and Market streets around 10:25 p.m. Jan. 20. Officers say they found him lying in the northbound lane of South Market Street saying he had been hit by a car that “came out of nowhere.”
Rinehimer was seriously injured in the crash — sustaining broken bones, abrasions and contusions — but was released from Geisinger Wyoming Valley Medical Center, Plains Twp., on Jan. 25.
According to the complaint, police got video from the area and identified a burgundy Chevrolet Malibu as the suspect’s vehicle. Video from an ATM showed Rinehimer going airborne after being hit and the car then swerving into the opposing lane — indicating the driver knew what had happened, police said.
On Jan. 29, police found a burgundy 2016 Chevrolet Malibu with fresh front-end damage parked outside of Gajewski’s home, police said.
Gajewski initially claimed a car had backed into his parked car at a supermarket, although he never reported such an accident, according to the complaint.
He went on to admit being at Larry’s Pizza at 400 E. Church St. from about 3 p.m. until 11 p.m. the day of the crash, police said. Gajewski told police he drank between eight and 10 cans of Miller Lite while watching football at the establishment, according to the complaint.
He claimed he had then driven home along Market Street, which police say would not have been possible because by that time the road was already closed due to the accident. Police say the surveillance videos also did not support Gajewski’s version of events.
Gajewski stood by his account, so police conducted further testing, according to the complaint.
An examination showed his car had damage “consistent with striking a person” in the form of dents and cracked paint — damage that was not observed during a vehicle inspection Gajewski had done on Jan. 16, police said.
Investigators also found what appeared to be human tissue on the vehicle’s grill, police said.
Confronted with the additional information, Gajewski admitted he had lied and that he was responsible for the crash, according to the complaint. He told police he panicked after hitting Rinehimer and was sorry for what happened, police said.
Police charged Gajewski with a felony count of fleeing the scene of an injury accident as well as summary counts of failing to stop and render aid, failing to report an accident, giving false information and careless driving.
Magisterial District Judge Donald L. Whittaker arraigned Gajewski on the charges Tuesday morning and released him on $100,000 unsecured bail.
A preliminary hearing was set for 9 a.m. March 13.

Search warrant: Suspect stole from club to fund gambling habit
Bob Kalinowski - Citizens Voice

The suspect in the massive theft from a city social club admitted to embezzling funds to support his lifestyle and a secret casino gambling habit, according to a search warrant obtained by Nanticoke police.
Search warrant documents identify the suspect as Daniel Wozniak, who was treasurer the past five years at the Honey Pot Club in the city’s Honey Pot section.
Investigators say tens of thousands of dollars are missing from the club’s coffers.
The theft came to light recently after utilities were shut off to the club’s building at 13 Honey Pot St. The utility shut off forced the Honey Pot Volunteer Fire Department out of service. The fire company is an affiliated, but separate, organization which shares the building with the club.
City police said they recently were approached by board member Julianna Kobylarz, who reported the utilities were shut off due to months of unpaid bills. She and other members then discovered the club’s three bank accounts were “depleted,” police said.
The next day, Wozniak’s wife, Jennifer, also a board member, came to police headquarters to report Wozniak was “missing” for several days, according to the search warrant. She said he had sent her an email admitting to stealing from the club.
Police say Wozniak surrendered on Thursday and admitted to stealing from the club for several years.
Wozniak, the club’s treasurer since 2014, said he initially wrote himself several checks, but mainly stole money each night from cash deposits, the search warrant says.
When there wasn’t enough money to pay bills, he would transfer cash from the club’s savings account to its checking account until the point there was no money left, police said.
Wozniak said he used the cash for personal purposes and to “fund his closeted casino gambling habit,” the search warrant says.
Police say charges are pending the completion of the investigation and an analysis of the club’s financial records.
Efforts to reach Wozniak on Friday were not immediately successful.

Fire volunteers out of service due to theft
Bob Kalinowski - Citizens Voice

The Honey Pot Volunteer Fire Department is out of service as city police investigate a massive theft from its affiliated social club that led to its utilities being shut off.
Nanticoke police Chief Tom Wall confirmed his department is investigating the theft of tens of thousands of dollars from the Honey Pot Club social hall and a suspect turned himself in to confess.
The hall and fire department, which are affiliated but are two separate organizations, share the same building at 13 Honey Pot St.
Wall said the thief came to light when the utilities were shut off recently due to unpaid bills.
"That was one of the things that gave it away. He was supposed to be doing that," Wall said.
Wall said the suspect turned over a computer and told police how he had been skimming from the organization's finances for several years. Charges are pending the completion of the investigation and analysis of financial records, the chief said.
The volunteer fire company announced on Facebook on Wednesday it was out of service for most calls because utilities were shut off to its building.
"We feel the community should be well aware of the issue at hand and the fire company is not the one being investigated, as we have two organizations in the building," the fire company wrote on Facebook.
The fire company said residents still would be in great hands because of the "amazing fire department here in the City of Nanticoke."
The volunteer department in the city's Honey Pot section is one of several that supplement Nanticoke's full-time department.
When contacted, a representative of the fire department declined further comment.
Nanticoke Fire Chief Kevin Hazleton said fire and rescue service will not be harmed while Honey Pot is out of service.
"They are an independent agency. We cover Honey Pot, so it will not affect service one bit," Hazleton said.
Meanwhile, a post on the Honey Pot Club's Facebook page says there will be an "emergency meeting" for members of the private club at 6 p.m. Friday at the West Side Park clubhouse on West Grand Street.
"We will only be able to issue a basic statement due to the active investigation and be open to help/thoughts to try to get things moving forward," the post said.

Police: Suspect identified in hit and run

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Nanticoke police seek U-Haul truck driver in hit-run
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Man, 72, seriously hurt in Nanticoke hit-run .. Black sedan with damage to front bumper.

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McNeal found guilty of murder
James Halpin and Bob Kalinowski - Citizens Voice

After nearly six hours of deliberations, a jury on Friday night found Antoine McNeal guilty of third-degree murder.
McNeal, 34, was accused of setting up a drug deal to buy $500 worth of marijuana from 20-year-old Brandon Smith early the morning of Jan. 18, 2017.
Prosecutors alleged that after arriving at Smith’s West Church Street home in Nanticoke, McNeal shot him twice in the chest and robbed him of Percocet pills Smith had in his pocket.
McNeal was also found guilty of criminal use of a communications device, tampering with evidence and robbery.
The jury found him not guilty of first- and second-degree homicide.
Prosecutors struggled to understand how the jury found McNeal guilty of robbery, but not guilty of second-degree murder, which is a killing during the commission of a felony, such as robbery. A second-degree murder conviction would have carried a penalty of mandatory life in prison, while the third-degree conviction carries a maximum penalty of 20 to 40 years in prison.
Still, prosecutors were satisfied with the verdict.
“We were confident from the beginning Mr. McNeal pulled the trigger,” said Assistant District Attorney William Finnegan.
Sentencing was set for Feb. 25 at 1 p.m.
The defense maintained that although McNeal set up the drug deal, he arrived at Smith’s home to find Smith with another, unidentified person. As McNeal was walking, gunshots rang out and he ran back to his girlfriend’s car saying, “We got to get out of here. They’re shooting,” according to the girlfriend’s testimony.
“Mr. McNeal is disappointed. He maintained his innocence and expected a not guilty verdict,” defense attorney Demetrius Fannick said.Z
During his closing argument, Fannick focused on testimony by Smith’s own mother, who testified her son was a drug dealer who had made enemies in the Tunkhannock area because of ripping people off. When Smith was bleeding out on his living room floor, he was shouting, “They shot me!” according to her testimony.
Fannick noted that Smith and McNeal worked together and knew each other well.
“This was a very close encounter, and if it was a close encounter with someone he knew he would have told his parents who it was,” Fannick said. “He doesn’t know who shot him. He says, ‘They shot me.’ ... That’s reasonable doubt right there.”
But Fannick also noted that the bullets recovered from the crime scene were a different type than the unspent rounds recovered from McNeal’s girlfriend’s house. While girlfriend Wakeelah Moore’s .38 Special revolver — which she claims had been previously stolen — was the same caliber of the murder weapon, Fannick noted that a prosecution gun expert testified that millions of similar guns could have fired the bullets that killed Smith.
He also blasted police for a “crap” investigation, alleging they failed to even bother testing evidence including a cigarette butt and a soda can recovered from outside the van where Smith was fatally shot.
“Forensically, there’s nothing in this case,” Fannick said, noting that police only recovered one partial fingerprint from the vehicle. “How is that possible? That’s mind-blowing, if you think about it.”
During the prosecution closing, Assistant District Attorney Thomas Hogans reminded the jury that Moore admitted in court that she drove McNeal to meet Smith moments before the shooting.
“A few minutes later, Brandon is running into his house to his mother, Tina, screaming, ‘They shot me!’” Hogans said.
The prosecutor downplayed the significance of Smith’s use of the word “they,” noting that in earlier text exchanges McNeal had informed him he was coming with Moore.
“Most importantly, there is zero evidence that anybody else was coming to see Brandon that night,” Hogans said, noting Smith’s phone contained no text messages indicating anyone else planned to meet him.
He also noted that Smith’s mother said he had been “frantic and scared” as he laid on the floor screaming that he couldn’t breathe and that he didn’t want to die.
“His world’s already closing in on him,” Hogans said. “He was breathing his last breaths. Brandon was not worried about who shot him.”
Hogans urged the jury to focus on what the evidence shows: That Smith was killed by a single shooter using a single revolver during a drug robbery. The defense, he alleged, was trying to confuse the fact that the evidence conclusively puts McNeal inside the van.
“He doesn’t want you to think about the fact that the defendant’s phone was on the passenger seat of the van — with Brandon’s blood on it,” Hogans said.

Woman accused of smashing her way into borough office
Bob Kalinowski - Citizens Voice

A woman smashed her way into the borough's municipal building early Monday, seeking to steal documents from the police station about an investigation targeting her, police said.
Police said Ashley Keister, 27, of Nanticoke, used a large cigarette butt receptacle to smash glass doors to the building and gain entry around 12:45 a.m. Once inside, she started rummaging through filing cabinets, police said.
West Wyoming police Chief Curtis Nocera said Keister had been under investigation for harassing a borough cop who arrested her last year.
"She wanted to have a relationship with him," Nocera said.
He said no one was in the building at the time Keister entered, as police were out on patrol.
Prior to breaking in, Keister called 911 and asked for an officer to meet her at the station in 10 minutes, police said.
Investigators said Keister first bashed the cigarette receptacle off the police department door, causing damage, before using it to break into the borough building.
She never gained access to the police station, Nocera said.
After Keister exited the building, police said she picked up the cigarette receptacle again and smashed out more of the glass door.
Police said Keister then retreated to her vehicle and waited for police to arrive. When an officer arrived, Keister charged at him and swung at his head, police said.
She was then taken into custody.
The incident was caught on surveillance footage, police said. Police released footage from the department's video doorbell that they said depicts Keister smashing the cigarette container off the door.
Investigators said Keister admitted to breaking into the borough building to try to remove documents involving a police investigation targeting her.
Keister was charged with aggravated assaulted on a police officer, burglary, institutional vandalism, loitering and prowling at night time, criminal mischief, and harassment.
She was arraigned by Magisterial District Judge Joseph Carmody. Carmody ordered her jailed in the Luzerne County Correctional Facility in lieu of $50,000 bail.

Trial set to begin in drug robbery killing

Attorneys on Friday picked a jury and opening statements are set for Monday in the case of a Wilkes-Barre man accused of killing a man during a drug robbery in Nanticoke.
Antoine McNeal, 34, is accused of murdering Brandon Smith, 20, who was shot dead outside his West Church Street, Nanticoke, home on Jan. 18, 2017. Prosecutors allege McNeal killed Smith after meeting him to buy marijuana.
The prosecution recently succeeded in adding a robbery charge against McNeal based on recorded jailhouse phone calls in which McNeal referenced Smith having 30-milligram oxycodone pills in his pocket at the time of the shooting.
“The (expletive) had other drugs in his pocket so evidently someone else was coming to see him besides me,” prosecutors have quoted McNeal as saying.
Luzerne County Judge Tina Polachek Gartley granted the prosecution request over the objections of the defense, which maintained the additional charge would severely alter the case. However, the judge pushed back the trial date of Dec. 3 to give the defense time to adapt.
Opening statements are now scheduled to begin at 9 a.m. Monday.

Judge allows Nanticoke man to withdraw guilty plea in alleged sex assault

A Nanticoke man will take his chances with a jury now that a Luzerne County judge permitted him to withdraw his guilty plea on a sexual assault charge.
Dylan Charles Monelli, 22, of South Hanover Street, was charged by Nanticoke police with having sexual encounters with a 15-year-old girl from June 2017 until December 2017. Monelli claimed the encounters were consensual and the relationship ended when the minor’s parents found out, court records say.
Despite the claim of a consensual relationship, Monelli was charged with a felony statutory sex assault charge due to the age difference involving a minor.
Monelli on Oct. 15 pleaded guilty to the felony charge while prosecutors withdrew a misdemeanor count of corruption of minors.
But when Monelli appeared in court to be sentenced Dec. 10, his lawyer, Joseph Sklarosky Sr., advised Judge Michael T. Vough that Monelli wanted to withdraw his plea.
Sklarosky confirmed again Friday that Monelli wanted to take back the plea, which Vough allowed.
“He maintains it was a consensual relationship, clearly it was consensual,” Sklarosky told the judge. “If a jury hears the case, they would acquit him.”
Vough scheduled Monelli’s trial for March.
In an unrelated case, Monelli was sentenced last month to one year on probation and 50 hours of community service for conspiring to steal items from the Turkey Hill store on West Main Street in Nanticoke on May 4.

Jury selection to begin Friday for 2017 Nanticoke homicide

Jury selection is set to begin in a 2017 homicide case.
Antoine McNeal, 34, will appear before Luzerne County Judge Tina Polachek Gartley on Friday morning. McNeal is accused of fatally shooting Brandon Smith, 20, while Smith sat in a van outside a Nanticoke home Jan. 18, 2017.
McNeal is facing a total of five charges, including an open count of criminal homicide, prohibited possession of a firearm, criminal use of a communication facility and tampering with evidence.
Smith was shot and killed in the early morning hours. Previous testimony suggested the homicide was a result of a drug deal gone wrong. Smith’s mother, Tina Letavish, said Smith was on the couch of their Nanticoke home texting someone before heading outside around 2 a.m.
He ran back inside shortly later, shouting “they shot me” before falling to the floor.
Investigators said they later found a texting trail between Smith and a number that belonged to McNeal. The text messages were aimed at setting up a drug deal, authorities report.
Court records show McNeal’s trial is scheduled to last all of next week. He’s been locked up without bail in the Luzerne County Correctional Facility since his arrest in April 2017.