Mahoning officer pleads guilty
A suspended Mahoning Township police officer pleaded guilty on Wednesday afternoon in Carbon County court to one count of false reports and is reportedly ready to plead guilty in another pending case against him.
Marvin Z. Mertz, 35, of Lehighton, entered the plea before Senior Judge Richard W. Webb. Webb accepted the plea but deferred sentencing when Duty Attorney General William Davis, prosecutor, told the court that Mertz had reached an agreement to enter a plea in a case filed earlier this month charging him with forgery. That is scheduled for a proceeding in August.
Mertz was charged with making a false accident report and filing it in the township.
According to the attorney general's office on Jan. 30, 2007, two men, who at the time were members of the Jim Thorpe Emergency Medical Services, took their vehicles to Lehigh Gorge State Park after 11 p.m. They were in separate vehicles and both testified they had accidents. They phoned Mertz, who was on-duty at the time. Mertz had one of the two men strike a bridge post with his vehicle so that a report would state the crash occurred in the township. In the case of the second person, Mertz claimed in an incident report that the man damaged his car in an accident on Gilbert's Hill Road, when it actually happened in Jim Thorpe.
The two men were identified as Michael Pribila of Summit Hill and Anthony Quinn of Jim Thorpe.
In the second case Mertz is charged with forging signatures on a National Rifle Association (NRA) firearms instructor application. Allegedly Mertz sought to renew his application to be a law enforcement firearms instructor. Agent James Maleno, from the attorney general's office, is the prosecutor in both cases.
Last week Mertz waived his preliminary hearing on the charges.
Davis said Mertz has agreed to plead guilty to two counts of forgery in that case.
The proceeding yesterday lasted less than five minutes. Mertz's only response during the plea hearing was to Webb's question, asking if the facts as read into the record by Davis were correct. Mertz said, "Yes, your honor."
Mertz is free on unsecured bail in both matters. He was suspended from his job on June 4, 2008.
The plea agreement is an open plea to the false reports count with no recommendation concerning the sentence. That will be up to Webb.