A Carbon County resident admitted to having sex with a teenage girl while a county drug dealer was sentenced to a state prison term. They were among nine defendants to enter guilty pleas Tuesday afternoon in Carbon County court before President Judge Roger N. Nanovic II.
Andrew Michael Bertalan, 22, of Blakeslee, pleaded guilty to one count each of statutory sexual assault and criminal use of a communication device, both felonies.
Bertalan was charged by state police at Lehighton with having sexual relations with a then 15-year-old girl.
Bertalan orginally faced 11 charges including statutory sexual assault, aggravated indecent assault, sexual abuse of children, criminal use of communication facility, and corruption of minors. All charges were dropped in a plea agreement accept the two he pleaded to.
According to the affidavit of probable cause filed by Trooper Nicolas De La Iglesia on Jan. 31 the victim reported to Cpl. Shawn Noonan that she had been dating Bertalan from Oct. through Dec. 2010.
While dating Bertalan she engaged in sexual acts with him, the affidavit states. She reported that Bertalan had also photographed her during sexual acts. On Feb. 3 Noonan and De La Iglesia interviewed the victim, who related that Bertalan was aware of her age during their relationship.
She related that he had attended her 15th birthday, and knew that she was in the ninth grade.
She related that the sexual acts occurred at her residence and at Bertalan's grandfather's residence.
On March 29 De La Iglesia interviewed Bertalan at which time he admitted dating the victim and having a sexual relationship.
He related that he was unaware of the victim's age.
Bertalan initially denied taking nude photographs of the victim, but then related that he did take two or three photographs of the victim with a cellphone while she was topless during a sexual encounter.
Nanovic accepted the pleas but deferred sentencing and ordered the adult probation office to prepare a presentence investigation (PSI) report.
Joseph John Pauker, 52, of Lehighton, pleaded to one count of possession with intent to deliver a controlled substance-heroin. He was arrested on Sept. 1, 2010, by agents of the state Attorney General's office during a search of his residence at 186 S. Second St.
Found in the home was three packages of heroin and various other drug paraphernalia. Also seized was $975 in cash.
The search warrant was obtained after the AG office learned that Pauker was dealing drugs out of the residence.
According to defense Attorney Steven Mills, Pauker has spent 393 days in jail on the charge and also on a other case. He also was successfully released from a rehabilitation program.
Nanovic sentenced him to serve 12 to 36 months in a state prison and ordered he get a drug and alcohol evaluation (D&A) and follow any recommendation for treatment, and supply a DNA sample and pay the $250 fee. He was given credit for the 393 days.
Although he has served his minimum he must still report to a state prison on Nov. 26 at 10 a.m. Since he is under a state sentence only the state board of parole can release him.
Other defendants that entered pleas included:
Kaitlyn Jane Hill, 24, of Lehighton, pleaded to one count of criminal use of a communication device. She was charged by agents of the state Attorney General's office with her part in a drug smuggling incident at the county prison. In January police arrested 11 persons, including some inmates, for having the drug suboxone smuggled into the jail underneath postage stamps on letters sent to the jail. Most of those charged have already pleaded in the case.
District Attorney Gary F. Dobias, labeled the investigation "Operation Postage Stamp." He said it began in January 2011 when the prison warden, Joseph Gross, intercepted three letters containing a suboxone underneath the letters' stamps.
Dobias said the drug suboxone, which is used to treat heroin addiction, is commonly produced in pill form, but now is being manufactured in thin, film-like strips, very similar to the popular breath freshening strips.
Nanovic accepted the plea but deferred sentencing and ordered a PSI.
Anthony Piccioni, 20, of Boonten, N.J., pleaded to one count of possession of drug paraphernalia. He was arrested on June 8 by state police at Lehighton following a traffic stop along SR248 in Franklin Township.
Nanovic imposed a fine of $500.
Jeremy David Gothard, 32, of Lehighton, pleaded to one count of possession of drug paraphernalia. He was arrested on July 7 by state police at Lehighton in the area of SR209 and Cherry Hill Road, in Franklin Township, where police found him in a vehicle off the road.
Gothard was also before the court to be sentenced on a DUI charge he previously pleaded guilty to. Both cases were continued for sentencing due to confusion concerning the plea agreement in the DUI case.
James L. Ruff, 35, of Plamerotn, pleaded to one count each of possession of a small amount of marijuana and possession of drug paraphernalia. He was arrested on March 17, 2011, by Palmerton police for an incident in the area of 643 Delaware Ave.
On the possession of paraphernalia charge he was placed on probation for a year and ordered to pay a fine of $500, get a D&A evaluation, and zero tolerance imposed on D&A use.
On the simple possession charge he was fined $250.
Robert Walter Schafer Jr., 43, of Palmerton, pleaded to one count of simple assault. He was arrested by Palmerton police for an incident on July 24 at 665 Franklin Ave., with Bobbi Sue Eck the listed victim. Police said the victim and defendant had a relationship at the tme and were involved in a confrontation at the defendant's home.
Nanovic placed him on probation for a year and ordered he have no contact with Eck, and get a D&A evaluation.
Roberte Paul Devito, 42, of Easton, pleaded to one count of DUI. He was arrested on Nov. 3, 1996, by state police at Lehighton, along SR209 in Franklin Township after being involved in an accident.
The case was delayed for a long period because Devito moved out of state to Nevada and only recently returned.
Nanovic sentenced him to serve 48 hours to one year in jail, a fine of $300, one year license suspension, and get a D&A evaluation. He was given credit for three days spent in jail and was paroled.
Jon Rodney Dougherty, 28, of Bowmantown, pleaded to one count of possession of drug paraphernalia. He was arrested on Aug. 2 at his residence 612 Apple St. after state police at Lehighton responded to assist Mahoning Township police who were serving an arrest warrant.
Nanovic placed him on probation for a year and ordered he get a D&A evaluation, and pay a fine of $500.
Each defendant sentenced must also pay court costs, which average close to $1,000, and pay a $50 per month supervision fee while on probation or parole.