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Man who threatened hospital personnel with knife enters plea

Published January 22. 2010 05:00PM

A Carbon County man, who threatened hospital personnel with a knife, entered a guilty plea on Thursday in Carbon County court and was immediately placed on probation.

He was one of several defendants in pending criminal cases to enter a guilty plea before President Judge Roger N. Nanovic II.

Lehighton incident

Robert Charles Hibbler Jr., 60, of Lehighton, pleaded guilty to one count of terroristic threats for an incident that occurred at the Blue Mountain Health Systems Gnaden Huetten Campus, in Lehighton.

Hibbler was in the emergency room area when he pulled out a pocket knife and threatened nurses and doctors.

Defense Atty. George Dydynsky told Nanovic that Hibbler, who has a long history of alcohol abuse, was highly intoxicated at the time. Hibbler also has a long prior arrest history.

Dydynsky said Hibbler's alcohol bouts have led to all his problems saying when he does not drink he is not a problem. Dydynsky also said Hibbler's drinking is also tied to his "infatuation" with a woman, not his wife. He said Hibbler's conduct has been a real hardship on his family including his wife and daughters, who have stood by him despite all the problems.

Nanovic told Hibbler, "You're tearing your family apart all because of the other woman."

Nanovic said he would impose a probationary sentence, but a long one with strict conditions, warning Hibbler one violation could mean a long prison term.

Nanovic placed him on probation for three years and imposed the following conditions: get both D&A and mental health evaluations and follow any recommendations for treatment, zero tolerance on D&A use, no contact with the "other woman", and sign all proper papers to have his Social Security disability check go to his daughter for handling of the funds. He was given credit for 23 days spent in jail on the charges.

Other pleas

Other defendants who entered guilty pleas included:

Ryan Michael Gontz, 18, of Hazleton, pleaded guilty to seven counts of receiving stolen property in five pending cases.

Gontz admitted his part in a theft spree in which cars were entered in Jim Thorpe on April 8-9, 2009, and various items removed. Gontz and a co-defendant, Shane Balliet, also of Luzerne County, were charged with the entries.

Assistant District Attorney William E. McDonald said the two were charged with entries of cars in several communities in Luzerne County. He said when Jim Thorpe police stopped Gontz and Balliet on the morning of April 9 they found 113 stolen items in their vehicle. Defense Atty. Michael Gough said Gontz is facing 67 criminal counts in Luzerne County.

Nanovic sentenced him to serve a total of three months to one day less two years on all the counts and ordered total restitution of $1,911.99. He was given credit for 165 days spent in jail on the charges.

Chad H. Hartsell, 28, of Lehighton, entered guilty pleas in three pending cases. He pleaded to one count each of receiving stolen property, false identification to law enforcement and DUI.

He was arrested on the receiving charge by Lehighton police for an incident on June 8, 2009, in which he took a purse belonging to Samantha Griffith and took a gift card from it and spent it. She had given Hartsell a ride when he took the purse. He was charge for the ID count for an incident on July 29, 2009, by Lansford poloice when he gave them a false name. The DUI occurred on Oct. 10, 2008, along Packerton Dam Drive in Mahoning Township, when he was involved in an accident. He refused a test.

Nanovic sentenced to serve five to 16 months on the receiving charge with credit for 120 days. On the ID count he was placed on probation for a year, consecutive to the receiving sentence. On the DUI charge he was sentenced to serve 30 days to six months in prison, consecutive to the other charges with three days credit.

He was also ordered to get a D&A evaluation, supply a DNA sample and pay the $250 fee, render 20 hours of community service, pay a fine of $1,000 and one year license suspension on the DUI count, and make restitution in the receiving charge of $2,339.99.

Ronald A. Ventura, 23, of Albrightsville, pleaded in two pending cases. He pleaded to one count each of false ID to law enforcement and fleeing or attempting to elude police.

The false ID count stems from a Nov. 27, 2008, incident in Nesquehoning. The fleeing incident occurred on April 6, 2009, along SR903 and other area roads in Penn Forest Township. He approached an accident scene at a high rate of speed and ignored signals by state police to slow down and stop. A chase then began and he was eventually stopped by troopers. He said he fled because he was driving under suspension.

Nanovic sentenced him to serve one to 12 months on the false ID charge and two to 12 months on the fleeing count, with the terms running concurrent to each other and concurrent to a six to 23 months term he is presently serving in the county prison.

Jessica Knittle, 28, and Kyle D. Knittle, 30, of Lansford, each enter a plea to one count of criminal attempt-theft. The two admitted entering the property at the Panther Valley High School in Summit Hill and stealing diesel fuel from several school buses parked at the school. The listed victim is Kistler Transportation, owner of the buses. The incident occurred Jan. 18, 2009.

Defense Atty. Stephen Vlossak told the court that the Knittle's took the fuel oil to heat their home. Kyle Knittle was arrested for the same type of offense in Tamaqua and is currently on probation in Schuylkill County for the theft.

Nanovic placed two on probation for a year with Kyle Knittle's term concurrent with Schuylkill County. The two were also ordered to make restitution of $280 based on 60.7 gallons of fuel oil taken.

All defendants were ordered to pay court costs and a $50 per month supervision fee.

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