A Lansford man, who was arrested at his home a short time after he robbed an area pharmacy of over $11,000 worth of drugs, admitted to the act and entered a guilty plea this week in Carbon County court.

Jack Ensel, 51, of 723 E. Patterson St., pleaded guilty before President Judge Roger N. Nanovic II to one count each of robbery, simple assault and theft. He was charged with robbing the CVC Pharmacy in Nesquehoning, on Oct. 17, 2008.

Ensel was arrested at his home a short time after the incident. A worker at the pharmacy was able to secure the license plate of the vehicle used in the robbery. Nesquehoning police ran a check on the plate through the Carbon County Communications Center and it came back to Ensel's Lansford address. Nesquehoning police notified Lansford officers of the incident.

Lansford police were waiting at Ensel's home when he returned home. Also arrested at the scene was Ensel's wife, Tracy Ann Hicks, 44. She was charged with two counts of criminal conspiracy and one count of receiving stolen property. Police said she drove the Chevrolet Blazer used in the crime and waited outside the pharmacy when Ensel went in to rob the store.

Hicks denied she knew that Ensel was robbing when he entered it. She went on trial in June 2010 on the charges but a jury did not believe her story. She was found guilty and later sentenced. She is currently serving the sentence in a state prison.

Demands drugs

According to Officer Timothy Wuttke, Ensel entered the pharmacy about 4:17 p.m. wearing a black hooded sweatshirt, a plaid, two-tone blue jacket and a dark blue or black bandanna over his face. Inside the store he went to the pharmacy area and told Pharmacist Chris Reibar he wanted oxycontin and said he had a gun and someone would get hurt if he didn't get what he wanted.

He was given a tray of drugs valued at $11,988 and left the store. Store manager Susan Kondrchek watched Ensel enter the Blazer and wrote down the license number and gave it to Wuttke upon his arrival.

When arrested at his home Ensel told Lansford police that he and Hicks had talked about "hitting a pharmacy" for drugs because his prescription had run out and "he and Hicks were getting sick."

Nanovic accepted the pleas but deferred sentencing and ordered the adult probation office to prepare a presentence investigation (PSI) report.

Ensel was also scheduled to plead in two other pending cases involving robbery, one in Lehighton and the other in Tamaqua, but changed his mind and will go trial in those cases at a later date.

Ensel has been in the county prison since the day of his arrest on the charges.

Assistant District Attorney James M. Lavelle is prosecutor in the case and also prosecuted Hicks.