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Court briefs


April 09. 2013 11:34PM
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WILKES-BARRE — A Shavertown man charged with setting fire to a gazebo on Lake Louise in Franklin Township pleaded guilty Monday to a related charge.


Stephen David Getz, 26, with a last known address of Hillcrest Avenue, pleaded guilty to a charge of criminal mischief.


Additional charges of arson, criminal conspiracy and criminal mischief were withdrawn. Judge Fred Pierantoni said Getz will be sentenced on the misdemeanor charge on June 26.


According to court papers, in October 2008, police were called to investigate a fire at a wood gazebo along the shore of Lake Louise. The owner, Shep Pawling, said the fire was discovered by his daughter the day before. Police later determined the fire was intentionally set.


A juvenile later admitted to police in May 2010 he and Getz stole a motorcycle that they threw in the lake and that Getz then started a fire at the gazebo.


WILKES-BARRE — A Mountain Top woman charged with taking more than $20,000 from a Mount Pleasant business after failing to provide cleaning services pleaded guilty Monday to a related charge and was sentenced to three years probation.


Kathleen R. Benner, 54, of Yeager Road, entered the plea to a charge of theft by deception. Benner was ordered to have no contact with Baker Hughes Corp. and to pay $28,645 in restitution which must be paid in full within three years.


According to court papers, on May 31, 2012, representatives of Baker Hughes reported they terminated the services of Benner, operating as a professional cleaner.


The representative said Benner found a loophole in their system and was able to bill the company from January 2011 to April 2012 for services she did not perform.


WILKES-BARRE — A Hanover Township man who police say was driving over the speed limit and hauling 960 pounds of concrete mix when he crashed head-on into another vehicle, killing an elderly couple, has waived his right to a formal arraignment.


Kevin Allen, 36, of Martin Street, waived the arraignment in Luzerne County Court on Friday, entering a plea of not guilty to two charges of homicide by vehicle and related driving offenses. He next will be scheduled to appear before a county judge for a pre-trial hearing.


Police allege Allen was traveling 73 mph in a 45-mph zone on the Sans Souci Parkway on Aug. 4, 2011, when he veered into oncoming traffic and slammed into a 2006 Chevrolet Impala, operated by Edward Skwirut, 89.


Police initially said Allen was traveling 67 mph at the time of the crash. Skwirut, and his wife, Dorothy, 86, died at the hospital of multiple traumatic injuries, according to the Luzerne County Coroner’s Office.


Allen was driving a 2002 Chevrolet Xtreme truck transporting a dozen 80-pound bags of concrete mix at the time of the crash, according to the criminal complaint.




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