Towing contractor's lawyer calls penalty 'an unfair sentence by a timid judge'

Last updated: July 12. 2014 12:01AM - 6019 Views
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Defense attorney Joseph Sklarosky Sr. reacts to 3-12 month jail sentence handed down against his client in Luzerne County Court, July 11, 2014.

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Defense attorney Joseph Sklarosky Sr. speaks out against the verdict in a video accompanying this story at www.timesleader.com —


Glodzik timeline


Key events in the Leo Glodzik story:


• September 2010 — Girlfriend Marti Calpin reports that Glodzik rammed his Ford Taurus into her Jeep when she was driving on Carverton Road in Kingston Township. Charges of drunken driving and reckless endangerment against Glodzik were dismissed after Calpin does not testify.


• October 2011 — Glodzik pleads guilty to resisting arrest and harassment and is sentenced to serve 18 months probation following his behavior toward police following his arrest in the Calpin car-ramming case.


• October 2011 — A judge issues a Protection from Abuse order against Glodzik after a September 2011 incident in which Calpin said Glodzik assaulted her and slashed a tire on her car on Carverton Road. Calpin requests the PFA be lifted in January 2012 after Glodzik began taking anger-management classes.


• May 2013 — Glodzik charged with two counts of theft after investigation into allegations that he stole $2,100 from a vehicle he towed that was part of a drug arrest in January, 2013. Wilkes-Barre Mayor Tom Leighton announces a short time later the same day that LAG Towing's exclusive, $50,050 annual towing contract with the city is suspended.


• June 2013 — The state files a $519,204 lien against Glodzik, saying he has not paid taxes on his personal income since 2006.


• November 2013 — County Judge Joseph M. Augello authorizes a one-year PFA order that prohibits Glodzik from having any contact with Calpin, who complained of unwanted attention, including 48 telephone calls she says Glodzik made to her on Oct. 31.


• January 2014 — The Internal Revenue Service on files a federal lien against Glodzik in the amount of $113,584.


• April 7 — The state Department of Environmental Protection warns Glodzik of possible enforcement actions if he doesn't tear down or fix up an abandoned railroad bridge he owns over the Susquehanna River between Duryea and Exeter.


• April 14 — The state Department of Labor and Industry files an $8,380 judgment against a former Glodzik company, United Sanitation Network Inc., of Duryea. It appears to deal with late or unpaid unemployment contributions from 2010 and 2011. The company now is owned by a family member, Pilar Glodzik.


• April 25 — Luzerne County President Judge Thomas F. Burke Jr. issues a temporary PFA order in favor of Aleksandra O'Donohue, 25, who claims Glodzik beat her at his Morgan Drive home on the night of April 17.


• May 7 — Defense attorney Joseph Sklarosky Sr. requests an out-of-county jury for the upcoming theft trial, arguing negative publicity surrounding Glodzik's many legal issues. County Judge Lesa Gelb denies the request.


• May 8 — Burke dismisses O'Donohue's PFA request, citing a “lack of credible evidence.”


• May 15 — A county jury finds Glodzik guilty of one felony theft count following a two-day trial.


• July 11 — Gelb sentences Glodzik to spend three to 2 months in county jail, allowing for daily work release.



WILKES-BARRE — “An unfair sentence by a timid judge.”
 
That was how defense attorney Joseph Sklarosky Sr. characterized the three- to 12-month jail term handed down against his client, former city towing contractor Leo A. Glodzik III, following Glodzik's sentencing on theft charges Friday morning in Luzerne County Court.
 
County Judge Lesa S. Gelb gave Glodzik until 9 a.m. Friday to report to the Luzerne County Correctional Facility, and declared him immediately available for work release. Sklarosky said Glodzik will appeal in the near future.
 
LAG Towing owner Glodzik, 43, of Wilkes-Barre, was the city's exclusive tower for more than eight years, until May 31, 2013. That's the day he was arrested on accusations of stealing $2,100 planted inside a Cadillac he towed four months earlier, believing the car had been seized from a drug dealer. The cash was bait money planted as part of an FBI sting operation.
 
Wilkes-Barre Mayor Tom Leighton, meanwhile, said Friday that a decision on the future of LAG's contract will be made “in due time” and after the legal process of terminating that pact has been followed.
 
Glodzik, who was suspended from his $50,050 annual contract the same day he was arrested, took the theft case to trial. A county jury on May 15 convicted him of one felony theft count following a two-day proceeding.
 
“It's unfortunate that these things happen,” a subdued Glodzik told a reporter after sentencing Friday, acknowledging that he was shocked by the ruling after Sklarosky vigorously — and unsuccessfully — argued for probation instead of incarceration.
 
Sklarosky had much more to say than his client, criticizing the judge for treating Glodzik more harshly than other theft defendants who have received probation or house arrest for their crimes.
 
“If she treated him fairly, she would have given him a sentence that was consistent with some of the other sentences that people have gotten for stealing huge amounts of money,” the attorney said outside court.
 
First Assistant District Attorney Sam Sanguedolce said he could not speak to other cases.
 
“We're pleased with the period of incarceration,” Sanguedolce told reporters outside court, adding that prosecutors also were pleased that the judge acknowledged what he saw as the seriousness of the offense.
 
Earlier in court, Sanguedolce said “anything less than an actual period of incarceration would minimize the impact of the offense.”
 
The judge agreed.
 
“I am troubled by the facts of the case,” Gelb said before imposing sentence, which also includes 20 hours of community service.
 
Sanguedolce said Friday that he did not yet know during what hours Glodzik would have to be incarcerated each day. He did say that Glodzik will not be required to turn over any weapons as part of the sentence.
 
Trial background
 
The case against Glodzik began after now-retired state Trooper Daniel Mimnaugh raised red flags in December 2012 about charges LAG levied against Mimnaugh's father-in-law after his car was towed to LAG's Carey Avenue garage following a crash.
 
Sklarosky, together with his son and co-counsel, Michael Sklarosky, argued that Mimnaugh and FBI agent Joseph Noone created a plan to entrap Glodzik.
 
Mimnaugh, testified that the FBI already had a file on complaints about Glodzik's business practices.
 
Mimnaugh admitted playing a “dirty police officer” when he approached Glodzik soon afterward about being the exclusive tower for a fictional drug task force he was heading up.
 
A series of interactions between the men culminated on Jan. 29, 2013, when Mimnaugh told Glodzik he might want to “check the ashtray” of the impounded Cadillac.
 
Glodzik did so. Then, prosecutors said, Glodzik put the money in his pocket and then tried to share $1,100 of the cash with the trooper under what Glodzik believed was an arrangement they had agreed to days before.
 
Mimnaugh testified that after Glodzik took the money, he called in FBI agent Joseph Noone. Glodzik was checked for weapons but advised he was not under arrest, Mimnaugh said, and Glodzik agreed to talk.
 
“During that interview, Mr. Glodzik admitted he took $2,100,” Mimnaugh said. “He was well aware it was theft, he admitted. He acknowledged what he did.”
 
Glodzik was not charged until the end of May 2013. Sklarosky contended the charges were held over Glodzik's head by federal investigators looking for evidence against Wilkes-Barre city officials.
 
“The FBI never wanted Leo,” Michael Sklarosky said. But when he couldn't provide “dirt” on City Hall, they arrested Glodzik.
 
Mimnaugh was asked if he ever heard FBI agent Noone accuse Glodzik of paying Leighton in order to protect his exclusive, $50,050-per-year towing contract.
 
“He may have asked that in the form of a question,” Mimnaugh replied. “Not in a statement like you're putting it. He may have asked him if he was doing that.”
 
Sklarosky also asked jurors to consider why Mimnaugh testified at trial but Noone never did, adding that Mimnaugh frequently responded to questions about the probe by saying that Noone would be best positioned to answer.
 
Sanguedolce suggested to jurors that Glodzik would have them believe that Mimnaugh and “the entire Scranton division of the FBI” lied, and “all engaged in the most elaborate and corrupt ruse in the history of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.”
 
In the end, a jury of 10 men and two women deliberated four hours May 15 before convicting Glodzik of felony theft in the taking of $2,100. He was found not guilty on a misdemeanor charge of theft from a motor vehicle.
 
Sentencing day
 
When Glodzik appeared before Gelb Friday morning, Sklarosky began his presentation to the judge by arguing that his client, as a divorced man with four children he supports, is neither a threat to the community nor a flight risk.
 
Sklarosky also argued that other cases in the county, including embezzlement cases involving larger amounts, resulted in house arrest or probation.
 
“When you look at some of the sentences that have been handed down in this county for people that have stolen money from fire departments and other municipal authorities — they come in here, and they took the money, they used it for their own purposes and they walk away with probation,” the attorney said after sentencing.
 
“Leo's in the same position,” Sklarosky continued, “but because his name is Leo Glodzik, he's got to go to jail, and that's unfair.”
 
While Sklarosky did not mention specific cases or defendants, there have been several high-profile theft or embezzlement cases in recent months which ended with the defendants escaping jail time. Some of them, as covered by The Times Leader, include:
 
• The same day Glodzik was found guilty, Christine A. Skorodensky, 54, was sentenced by county Judge Joseph Sklarosky Jr. — another son of the defense attorney — to six months on house arrest for embezzling more than $53,000 from the Woodlands Inn and Resort, where she had worked in accounting. Skorodensky, who admitted to one count of theft by unlawful taking during a guilty-plea hearing on March 31, also was sentenced to spend five years in the county's Intermediate Punishment Program. She had already made $50,000 in restitution.
 
• In June, Colleen E. Bresnock, a former youth football treasurer, was sentenced by county Judge Fred A. Pierantoni III to spend two years on probation after admitting to stealing more than $8,000 from the organization.
 
• On Dec. 19, former treasurer Daniel Boyd West was sentenced to two-and-a-half years' probation after previously pleading guilty to stealing from Franklin Hose Co. 2 of Edwardsville. He also was required to make $4,983 in restitution and serve 1.5 hours of community service.
 
If there was one key difference between those cases and Glodzik's, it was this: those individuals pleaded guilty, while Glodzik fought the charges all the way to trial.
 
That point was not lost on Sanguedolce, who stood before the judge and said he could not speak to other cases, only stating that Glodzik's crime was “not a run of the mill theft.”
 
“Mr. Glodzik has never openly admitted the facts of this case,” Sanguedolce said, accusing him of lacking honesty and candor.
 
Outside court, Sklarosky said he bore no ill will toward the prosecution, who “did what they had to to. They did their jobs, just like we did out job.”
 
Toward Gelb, he was less conciliatory.
 
“This man just received an unfair sentence by a timid judge,” Sklarosky said.
 
Contract at issue
 
Even before sentencing Friday, Wilkes-Barre City Council was anticipating the next step regarding LAG's suspended contract.
 
By a 5-0 vote, council passed a resolution Thursday night, made by Councilman Tony George, asking Leighton to terminate the contract.
 
The day Glodzik was charged, Leighton hired Falzone Towing on a monthly basis. Falzone agreed to pay the city $4,170 a month for the exclusive contract. Over a 12-month period the fee equalled the $50,050 LAG paid for its exclusive contract.
 
An arbitrator ruled in favor of the mayor in January and said Leighton could terminate the contract if there was a disposition “other than an innocent verdict.”
 
George had called for terminating the contract several times before the charges were filed on May 31, 2013.
 
Leighton's office released the following statement on Friday afternoon:
 
“In response to last night's Wilkes-Barre City Council Meeting, Mayor Thomas M. Leighton stated that a decision will be made in due time after the legal process for termination has been followed relative to the LAG towing contract.”
 
“I would expect that Councilman Tony George, as an ex-law enforcement official, understands that the legal process for terminating LAG's towing contract must take place before final action can be taken,” the statement concluded.

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