CriM­i­nal court

The Republican Herald - - OBITUARIES/POLICE/COURT - bY peter e. bort­ner STaff WrITer con­tact the writer: pbort­ner@re­pub­li­can­her­ald.com; 570-628-6014

poTTSVILLe — for the sec­ond time in as many days, a de­fen­dant did not ap­pear Sept. 22 in Schuylkill County Court, this time for a non­jury trial that ended with his be­ing con­victed of driv­ing un­der the in­flu­ence of drugs in Septem­ber 2015 in Shenandoah.

Gre­gory Swatsky, 63, of mount Carmel, is guilty of DUI and driv­ing on the side­walk, but not guilty of dis­re­gard­ing traf­fic lane, Judge Jacque­line L. rus­sell ruled af­ter a 90-minute trial held in the de­fen­dant’s ab­sence.

“I find that the de­fen­dant has no valid grounds not to be here,” rus­sell said be­fore pro­ceed­ing.

Later in the trial, as­sis­tant pub­lic De­fender Kent D. Watkins, Swatsky’s lawyer, said he had learned his client was in Cen­tre County prison. How­ever, Watkins elected to con­tinue with the trial.

af­ter ren­der­ing her ver­dict, rus­sell or­dered prepa­ra­tion of a pre­sen­tence in­ves­ti­ga­tion and said she would sched­ule sen­tenc­ing for a later date.

Shenandoah po­lice had charged Swatsky was DUI at 2:40 a.m. Sept. 20, 2015, on Cen­tre Street in the bor­ough.

“The ve­hi­cle made an abrupt right turn” from West Street onto Cen­tre Street, state po­lice Trooper michael J. o’Neill, who was a Shenandoah po­lice cap­tain at the time of the in­ci­dent, tes­ti­fied. Swatsky then drove the ve­hi­cle onto the side­walk, o’Neill said.

Swatsky ap­peared to be un­der the in­flu­ence of some­thing, and ad­mit­ted tak­ing two drugs, o’Neill said.

“I asked for his driver’s li­cense. He handed me his aarp card,” o’Neill said.

pa­trol­man William moyer, who was with o’Neill, also tes­ti­fied he saw Swatsky drive onto the side­walk.

also on Sept. 22, rus­sell re­voked the pa­role of Steven R. Mel­som, 21, of Shenandoah, and recom­mit­ted him to prison, with no chance of repa­role, ex­cept to a long-term re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion cen­ter, un­til Dec. 22. He also must un­dergo a drug and al­co­hol eval­u­a­tion.

mel­som ad­mit­ted vi­o­lat­ing his pa­role by fail­ing to re­port to his su­per­vis­ing of­fi­cer, mov­ing with­out per­mis­sion, us­ing drugs, fail­ing a drug test, not mak­ing pay­ments on his costs and fees and not per­form­ing man­dated com­mu­nity ser­vice.

“I just want to learn how to deal with prob­lems with­out us­ing drugs,” he said.

mel­som orig­i­nally pleaded guilty on June 7 to sim­ple as­sault in one case and bur­glary in an­other. pros­e­cu­tors with­drew two counts of theft and one each of crim­i­nal tres­pass, re­ceiv­ing stolen prop­erty and ha­rass­ment.

at that time, rus­sell sen­tenced him to serve 168 days to 18 months in prison, pay costs and $100 to the Crim­i­nal Jus­tice en­hance­ment ac­count, and sub­mit a DNa sam­ple to law en­force­ment au­thor­i­ties.

State po­lice at frackville filed both sets of charges against mel­som, al­leg­ing he com­mit­ted the as­sault on June 23, 2016, and the bur­glary the next day.

In an­other Sept. 22 case, rus­sell re­voked the pa­role of Paul B. Petrus Jr., 25, of ma­hanoy City, and recom­mit­ted him to prison, with no chance for repa­role un­til Dec. 13, 2017. He also must un­dergo a drug and al­co­hol eval­u­a­tion, and could re­main be­hind bars un­til Sept. 12, 2018.

petrus, who ad­mit­ted vi­o­lat­ing his pa­role by com­mit­ting a new crime, fail­ing a drug test, us­ing drugs, not mak­ing pay­ments on his costs and fees and not per­form­ing man­dated com­mu­nity ser­vice, orig­i­nally pleaded guilty on feb. 15 to pos­ses­sion of a con­trolled sub­stance. pros­e­cu­tors with­drew a charge of pos­ses­sion of drug para­pher­na­lia.

at that time, rus­sell sen­tenced petrus to serve two days to 12 months in prison and pay costs, $100 to the Sub­stance abuse ed­u­ca­tion fund and a $50 CJea pay­ment.

Shenandoah po­lice had charged petrus with pos­sess­ing drugs on april 24, 2014, in the bor­ough.

also on Sept. 22, rus­sell granted the re­quest of pros­e­cu­tors and or­dered the for­fei­ture and de­struc­tion of four guns be­long­ing to Leon A. Schap­pell Jr., pottsville.

Schap­pell had with­drawn his ob­jec­tion to the for­fei­ture of the guns, which pros­e­cu­tors said in­cluded a pis­tol, a pel­let gun, a .22-cal­iber long ri­fle and a 12-gauge shot­gun.

In a Sept. 21 case, Brit­tany M. Sha­dle, 26, of He­gins, pleaded guilty to de­liv­ery of a con­trolled sub­stance in one case and flight to avoid ap­pre­hen­sion in an­other. pros­e­cu­tors with­drew charges of pos­ses­sion with in­tent to de­liver a con­trolled sub­stance and pos­ses­sion of a con­trolled sub­stance in the first case and re­sist­ing ar­rest in the sec­ond.

Judge James p. good­man ac­cepted Sha­dle’s plea and sen­tenced her to serve three to 12 months in prison, pay costs, a $100 Saef pay­ment, $100 in CJea pay­ments and $113 resti­tu­tion to the state po­lice crime lab­o­ra­tory in Beth­le­hem, and sub­mit a DNa sam­ple to law en­force­ment au­thor­i­ties.

He­gins Town­ship po­lice filed both sets of charges against Sha­dle, al­leg­ing she de­liv­ered drugs on Nov. 25, 2015, and fled from po­lice on Dec. 2, 2016.

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