A Lehighton man, convicted in June by a jury of forgery and criminal attempt-theft by deception in which the victim was an elderly Palmerton woman, was sentenced to a county prison term on Tuesday.
Joseph Krex, 57, was sentenced to serve one to 12 months in prison the forgery count and one year probation on the theft charge with the terms running concurrent.
In imposing the jail term Senior Judge Richard W. Webb called Krex's actions in the case "dastardly" because the victim was an 86-year-old woman.
Krex was charged by then Palmerton police chief Timothy Nothstein with forging the name of Gladys Burghardt on a application for a Bank of America credit card. Nothstein is county the county detective.
Krex continued to deny any wrongdoing in the incident. Yesterday he told Webb, "As God is my witness, I never tried to do anything wrong."
At the trial Burghardt testified she contacted Krex after reading an article in the TIMES NEWS about the Krex Gift Foundation Inc., which Krex was president and CEO. She said her husband had serious health problems and she was having problems paying for his care. She wanted to speak with Krex about any help he could get for her through his foundation. Her husband, who died before the charges were filed, had Parkinson disease. She met with Krex in November 2006 and her husband died in February 2007.
Krex admitted filling out the application for the credit card but denied signing it. He said Burghardt had authorized him to fill out the application and he watched her sign it. She denied signing the application, which sought a line of credit of $35,000.
Two state police handwriting experts testified at the trial and said Burghardt did not sign the application for the credit card. But the two could not say that Krex had signed it either.
Krex called a handwriting expert in his defense, Joe B. Alexander, of Texas, who said after examination of the application he concluded Krex did not sign Burghardt's name.
Defense Atty. Robert P. Yurchak asked Webb to impose a probationary sentence on both counts stating that Mrs. Burghardt did not suffer any financial loss since the application was withdrawn and the credit card was never issued.
Assistant District Attorney William E. McDonald, who prosecuted the case, stated the Commonwealth would stand by the jury's verdict.
Webb said he agreed with the jury's finding and said he felt Krex did engage in a scheme to defraud the victim.
Yurchak asked that the prison term be stayed because Krex was going to appeal the jury's verdict. Webb said he would stay the sentence for 30 days, the time period Krex has to file an appeal. If no appeal is filed then the prison term would begin. If an appeal is filed Krex will remain free pending the results of the appeal.