WILKES-BARRE — Mark Robbins was found guilty Tuesday of trespass by motor vehicle stemming from an incident on March 31 when he took pictures of a truck loaned to a city police officer by Leo A. Glodzik, owner of LAG Towing, on city property.
Robbins, a frequent critic of Mayor Tom Leighton’s administration and the city’s arrangement with LAG, called the proceeding a “kangaroo court.”
Patrolman Brian Gist brought the charges against Robbins after he observed Robbins in a restricted parking lot behind the police station between State and North Washington streets. Robbins told District Judge Martin Kane he was there to expose the relationship between the towing contractor and city police officers.
After hearing the officer’s account of the incident and Robbins’ rebuttal, Kane found Robbins guilty of the amended charge of trespass by motor vehicle on a private road or driveway and fined him $100 plus $87 in costs.
Robbins, of Forty Fort, immediately filed an appeal at the Luzerne County Courthouse. A hearing has been set for 9 a.m. May 29. Robbins also said he intends to file obstruction of justice charges with District Judge Rick Cronauer.
“No more kangaroo court,” Robbins shouted to Gist on the way out of the hearing. “A jury of peers next time.”
During the brief hearing before Kane, Robbins tried to inject allegations about the relationship between officers and Glodzik, only to be stopped by Kane.
“Mr. Robbins, if you feel that strongly about these matters, I suggest you retain counsel and pursue it,” Kane said. “But you’re here to respond to the charges against you regarding trespass.”
Robbins went so far as to ask Gist if he had accepted a gift of champagne from Glodzik during the Christmas holidays. Kane again stopped Robbins from continuing.
Gist testified that on March 31 at 11:03 p.m., Robbins pulled his car abruptly into the parking area behind the city police station. Gist said he saw Robbins pull in, get out of his car and take pictures with his cellphone of a vehicle parked in the lot.
He said Robbins got back into his car and took another picture before Gist approached him.
Gist said Robbins could not produce a valid insurance card and his vehicle registration card was not signed.
Gist said he walked Robbins to signs posted at each end of the restricted lot that clearly show the area is restricted.
Robbins testified that he has been the victim of intimidation, telling Kane that “there is history” with him and Gist. Robbins stated his 14th Amendment rights were violated and Gist “obstructed justice.” Robbins said people walk through the area often and are not cited. He said three media representatives were in the same lot but were not charged.
“This is selective enforcement,” Robbins said.
Robbins said he was in the parking area trying to document that officers have accepted loans of vehicles from LAG Towing or Glodzik.
Questions about Glodzik’s loan of vehicles to officers surfaced last month after Robbins took the photos of a truck being driven by officer John Majikes that had a specialty “repair towing” business license plate registered to Glodzik. Glodzik has said he loaned vehicles to other police officers as well.
Police Chief Gerard Dessoye said he agrees the situation presents a possible conflict, but his hands are tied. Leighton has been reviewing the LAG contract and complaints filed about the business, but no decision has been reached to terminate or continue the contract. LAG pays the city about $50,500 per year to be the towing contractor.
Kane had to stop the proceedings when he noticed a man in the audience with a video recorder. Kane asked the man if he was taping the proceeding and when the man confirmed that, Kane called him forward to ask who he represented.
The man said he worked for the Independent Gazette. Frank Sorick, president of the Wilkes-Barre City Taxpayers Association, approached, saying he, too, worked for the Gazette. Kane advised the men that audio recordings can be made, but no video recordings.
“I should cite you,” Kane said, before issuing a stern warning and advising the men to check state law.