A former Mahoning Township police officer pleaded guilty Tuesday in Carbon County court to forging signatures on documents to be recertified as a firearms instructor. He was one of several defendants in pending criminal cases to enter a guilty plea before Senior Judge Richard W. Webb.

Second case

Marvin Mertz, 35, of Lehighton, pleaded to the two counts of forgery. This is the second case against Mertz. He pleaded guilty on July 15 to one count of false reports.

Mertz was charged with forging signatures on a National Rifle Association (NRA) firearms instructor application. Mertz sought to renew his application to be a law enforcement firearms instructor. The case, and the false reports prosecution, is being handled by the state attorney general's office. The Carbon County District Attorney's Office recused itself from the matter because of Mertz's position as a former township police officer. He has since resigned his post with the township.

Webb accepted the pleas but deferred sentencing at the request of Duty Attorney General William Davis. Davis said the sentencing in the matter should be done at the same time as the proceeding for the false reports. The sentencing in that case is set for Sept. 23. Webb agreed and deferred to that date.

Other cases

Other defendants who entered guilty pleas included:

Timothy Lawrence Conarty, 38, of Lehighton, pleaded guilty to one count of driving under the influence (DUI). He was arrested on July 12, 2009, along Seventh Street in Lehighton. Given a test, the result was .26BAC.

Webb sentenced him to serve five days to six months in jail, pay a fine of $300, get a drug and alcohol (D&A) evaluation and follow any recommendation for treatment and license suspended for a year.

Webb gave him credit for 30 days spent in an inpatient rehabilitation center and immediately paroled him.

Brandon Robert Buck, 50, of Palmerton, pleaded to two counts of DUI. He was arrested on Jan. 23, 2008, along Mauch Chunk Road in Palmerton. A test revealed the presence of a controlled substance. In that case he was placed in the Accelerated Rehabilitation Disposition (ARD) probation program but was revoked. The second arrest occurred on March 13 along SR209 in Franklin Township. Given a test, the result was .21BAC.

On the ARD case Webb sentenced him to serve 72 hours to six months in jail, a fine of $1,000, license suspended for a year and get a D&A evaluation. On the second case Webb sentenced him to serve 30 days to six months in jail, a fine of $750, and another one year suspension. The prison terms run concurrently.

The jail term began immediately and he was granted work release privileges.

Patrick Sean Burke, 50, of Schnecksville, pleaded to one count of DUI. He was arrested on April 3 along SR248 in Franklin Township. Given a test, the result was .20BAC.

Webb placed him on probation for six months and ordered he pay a fine of $300 and get a D&A evaluation. On four summary motor vehicle violations he was fined a total of $85 and costs.

Joseph P. Diorio, 22, of Lansdale, pleaded to one count of DUI. He was arrested on Aug. 28, 2008, along the turnpike in Parryville after being involved in a crash. Given a test, the result was .07BAC. At the time of the incident Diorio was 20 years old. The legal limit for a person under 21 is .02BAC.

Webb sentenced him to serve 30 days to six months in jail, a fine of $750, get a D&A evaluation and a one-year license suspension. He will serve two days in jail and 28 in the county's Intermediate Punishment Program (IPP) with electronic monitoring. The jail term began immediately. The IPP will be handled by Montgomery County.

Todd Andreas, 48, of Lehighton, pleaded to one count of DUI. He was arrested on Dec. 20, 2009, at Beltzville State Park by state police at Lehighton. Given a test, the result was .13BAC.

Webb sentenced him to serve five days to six months in jail, a fine of $300, get a D&A evaluation, render three hours of community service per month while on probation and license suspended for a year. He begins the jail term on Sept. 17 at 9 a.m.

Colleen M. Smela, 49, of Jim Thorpe, pleaded to one count of harassment. She was charged by Jim Thorpe police for an incident involving Michelle Mertz as the victim.

Webb placed her on probation for a year and ordered she get a D&A evaluation, zero tolerance imposed on D&A use, no contact with the victim and render 15 hours of community service.

Brian Francis Friz, 31, of Bally, N.J., pleaded to one count of DUI. He was arrested on March 5 along the turnpike in Penn Forest Township. Given a test, the result was 10BAC.

Webb placed him on probation for six months, pay a fine of $300 and get a D&A evaluation.

Patricia Lynn Dempsey, 49, of Summit Hill, pleaded in two pending cases to one count each of theft, possession of a controlled substance and misbrand controlled substance. She was arrested on the theft charge for an incident on Sept. 29, 2008, in Franklin Township where she stole $100 in cash from the Shell Service Station where she was then employed. She was placed in the ARD program on the count, but was revoked.

The drug count stems from a May 16 incident along Pine Run Road in Towamensing Township, in which she had various drugs in her possession and not prescribed for her.

Webb placed her on probation for a year on each count, running concurrently. The $100 taken in the theft case has already been repaid, it was noted.

Jose Perez-Martinez, 22, of Easton, pleaded to one count of recklessly endangering another person. He was arrested on March 22 by Mahoning Township police for an incident outside the Giant Market with a young child as the listed victim.

Webb placed him on probation for a year. Martinez is currently in custody for parole violations in Lehigh County.

Lanaya Hayes, 30, of Lehighton, pleaded to one count of theft. She was arrested on Nov. 12, 2009, for stealing $140 in cash from a Subway restaurant in Mahoning Township, where she was then employed.

Webb accepted the plea but deferred sentencing to a later date.

Misty Nicole Hyneman, 28, of Coaldale, pleaded to one count of DUI. She was arrested on April 22 along Delaware Avenue in Palmerton. Given a test, the result was .15BAC.

Webb placed her on probation for six months, a fine of $300 and get a D&A evaluation.

Mark Ochrymowicz, 29, of Harrison, N.J., pleaded to two motor vehicle code violations driving an unregistered vehicle and unauthorized transfer of a registration plate. He was arrested on July 3, 2005, at a sobriety checkpoint operating a motorcycle. He was not charged with any alcohol-related offenses.

Webb imposed a total of $100 fine and costs.

Craig D. Knauss, 30, of Lehighton, pleaded to one count of DUI. He was arrested on July 6, 2008, along Front St., in Jim Thorpe. Given a test, the result was .18BAC.

Webb placed him on probation for six months, a fine of $300, get a D&A evaluation, and render three hours of community service per month while on probation.

Jeremiah Gordon Becker, 19, of Tamaqua, pleaded to one count of possession of marijuana. He was arrested on May 7 along SR443 in Mahoning Township following a vehicle stop.

Webb placed him on probation for a year.

Each defendant must also pay court costs and a $50 per month supervision fee while on probation or parole.