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.