Eight defendants in pending criminal cases pleaded guilty in Carbon County court on Thursday.
President Judge Roger N. Nanovic II accepted the pleas from the following:
Ryan Heiser, 29, of Lehighton, pleaded to one count of burglary, as a felony one. He was arrested by Lehighton police for breaking into the home of John Kuller on April 26, 2011. Kuller died two days prior. A Kuller family member discovered the entry. Taken in the break-in was a set of Rosary beeds.
Kuller's family expressed deep distress for the entry and noted to the court that Heiser has prior criminal convictions.
Nanovic called the incident a "heinous crime".
Nanovic deferred sentencing so Heiser can be evaluated by the state prison system for placement in the state's Intermediate Punishment Program (IPP). The IPP is an intensive program for prisoners who are addicted to illegal substances. It includes time spent in a state prison, several programs must be completed, and eventually time in a half-way house, if the person qualities.
If Heiser does not qualify for the program he will be returned to the county court for sentencing by Nanovic. Heiser is currently in state custody on other charges.
John Michael Stubits, 51, of Slatington, pleaded to one count of driving under the influence (DUI). He was arrested on June 15, 2011, along Pohopoco Drive, in Towamensing Township, by state police at Lehighton. A test showed the presence of a controlled substance.
Nanovic sentenced him to serve 72 hours to six months in jail, a fine of $1,000, one year license suspension, and get a drug and alcohol (D&A) evaluation and follow any recommendation for treatment. He will begin the jail term at 10 a.m. on April 20.
Donald J. Warakomski, 45, of Lehighton, pleaded to one count of possession of marijuana at his residence on Oct. 25, 2011. State police at Lehighton said he was growing between 10 and 21 marijuana plants on his property.
Nanovic placed him on probation for a year and ordered he get a D&A evaluation, zero tolerance imposed on D&A use and pay a fine of $2,500.
Bradley Wade Wetzel, 20, of Lansford, pleaded to one count of possession of drug paraphernalia. He was arrested on Nov. 13, 2010, along Blakeslee Blvd. East in Mahoning Township. He was previously placed in the Accelerated Rehabilitation Disposition (ARD) probation program for first time offenders but was revoked from it when he tested positive for drug use.
Nanovic placed him on probation for six months and ordered he get a D&A evaluation, zero tolerance imposed on D&A use, and pay a fine of $500.
Robert Stalter Jr., 39, of Hazleton, pleaded to one count each of DUI and receiving stolen property. He was arrested on Aug. 8, 2011, by Mahoning Township police for an incident at the Walmart store in which he stole a laptop computer and then fled in his vehicle. He was stopped by township police along Blakeslee Blvd. A test revealed the presence of a controlled substance in his system. The stolen computer was found in his vehicle.
On the DUI count Nanovic sentenced him to serve 72 hours to six months in jail, a fine of $2,500, license suspended for a year, get a D&A evaluation, and zero tolerance on D&A use. On the receiving count he was placed on probation for three years, consecutive to the DUI charge.
He was given credit for time served, about 227 days, and paroled. He is facing probation violation charge in Luzerne County.
Christopher Mertz, 21, of Weissport, pleaded to two counts of receiving stolen property, and one each of theft and corruption of a minor. The charges stem from two pending cases filed against Mertz.
He was charged for a Aug. 12, 2011, incident in Lehighton in which a garage was entered and a bicycle and other items were taken. He was also charged with a Aug. 13 incident in which another bike was taken. In the cases a 16-year-old juvenile male was with Mertz.
Nanovic deferred sentencing and ordered a presentence investigation (PSI) be prepared the the adult probation office.
Charles J. Durning, 29, of New Philadelphia, Schuylkill County, pleaded to one count of simple assault. He was arrested on March 19, 2009, for an incident in Lansford in which John Shiffert is the listed victim and occurring at 205 W. Abbott St.
Durning was previously placed in the ARD program but was revoked. He is also on probation in Schuylkill County on an assault count.
Nanovic placed him on probation for two years and ordered he get a D&A evaluation. The sentence is consecutive to the one in Schuylkill.
Jeffrey Scott Eldridge, 28, of Albrightsville, pleaded to one count of DUI. He was arrested on July 2, 2011, along Old Stage Rd., in Penn Forest Township. Given a test, the result was .12BAC.
Nanovic deferred sentencing to a later date.
Each defendant must also pay court costs, which average close to $1,000, and a $50 per month supervision fee while on probation or parole.
Glenn A. Reimer, 45, of Lehighton, was placed in the ARD program for a year on a charge of receiving advance payment for services and failing to complete the services.
He was charged by state police at Lehighton for receiving money from Lee Michaels in Towamensing Township, for the construction of a home. The original amount sought was $88,622.14. Defense Atty. James Martin Connell told the court the actual restitution was $44,000, which has been repaid to the victim.
Nanovic ordered Reimer to pay $500 for the cost of the program, render 20 hours of community service, pay court costs, and a $50 per month supervision fee.