Yuknavich trial continued on D.A. appeal, Judge denies request to recuse himself

Ed Lewis

February 13, 2013

Luzerne County Judge Joseph Sklarosky Jr. continued the theft trial of Wilkes-Barre Township Fire Chief John Paul Yuknavich due to an appeal filed by the district attorney’s office.
Prosecutors are challenging Sklarosky’s ruling that prohibited introduction of a November, 2008 bank withdrawal and 15 bounced checks as evidence during the trial. Sklarosky stayed a contempt of court charge against Assistant District Attorney Michael Melnick due to the appeal. The jury that was selected over a two day period has been dismissed.
Yukanavich, 49, was charged by the State Police at Wyoming of stealing more than $11,000 from the Wilkes-Barre Township Fire Department.
At the start of this morning’s hearing, Melnick asked Sklarosky to recuse himself from presiding over the trial after receiving an anonymous phone call claiming that the judge and Yuknavich’s attorney Barry Diller had dinner together about a month ago. Sklarosky immediately denied Melnick’s request, telling Melnick the dinner was attended by 12 people and that the case was not discussed.