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Bath salts episode

Published April 15. 2011 05:00PM

A Coaldale man suspected of a bath salts-related knifepoint robbery on April 3 has been charged by Lansford police with resisting arrest, disorderly conduct, and possession of drug paraphernalia.

Nicholas Haspe, 30, of 43 W. Howard Ave., faces the charges from an incident which took place near Dock Street at 6:43 p.m. April 3.

The charges were filed by Officer Robert Shubeck with District Judge Casimir Kosciolek.

Here's what happened, according to an affidavit of probable cause:

Shubeck was dispatched to 17 N. Walnut St. for a report of a robbery that had just occurred, with the male suspect running away and high on bath salts. He was reported to be wearing a tan coat and was identified as Haspe. He was known to have a knife and to have just robbed a woman at that address of money and was running on Walnut Street toward the woods. Carbon County dispatchers were trying to get more information, but said someone in a green vehicle was following Haspe.

It turns out the green vehicle was being driven by the victim's mother, who told Shubeck that Haspe was in a nearby woods between Dock and Ridge streets. Shubeck immediately called for assistance from neighboring police departments.

Lansford Sgt. Det. Jack Soberick arrived to help, and they directed the other police via radio to patrol Ridge Street. Nesquehoning Police Chief Sean Smith arrived via Dock Street. As police were discussing their strategy, Shubeck spotted a man fitting Haspe's description walking across the far end of Walnut Street from the houses near the original dispatch location near 17 N. Walnut and Snyder streets.

Shubeck pointed and told Smith "there's the actor!" Shubeck jumped into his cruiser and, with Smith following, drove to where he had seen Haspe jump over the guiderail, tumble down an embankment and run toward Dock Street.

Soberick and Smith drove toward Dock Street, then ran through the woods after Haspe. Shubeck could hear them yelling at Haspe to stop, but Haspe kept running.

Soberick called in his location several times as Coaldale police and Shubeck drove to Oak Street, which ends at the woods.

Police chased Haspe through the woods from Oak Street, ordering him several times at gunpoint to stop and let police see his hands. Haspe ignored them, and kept running, crossing a creek into a patch of sticker bushes. Police followed him through the bushes and across rough territory, risking injury to themselves. Shubeck, Coaldale police and Soberick yelled "Taser" in an effort to get Haspe to surrender, but he continued to ignore them.

After several warnings to Haspe that they would use the Taser, he finally stopped and lay down next to the creek. Coaldale Officer Scott Cramer and Shubeck cuffed Haspe without incident and checked for weapons. They found two folding knives in his right pants pocket.

At the police station, Haspe admitted to having "shot up" with bath salts, and said the needle was in his sock. Bath salts not the stuff used to soften skin are chemicals that produce the effects of methamphetamine or cocaine. Ingestion, by smoking, snorting or injection, can trigger hallucinations, extremely high blood pressure, aggression and seizures. The chemical combination is currently legal, but state legislators are moving to ban it.

Shubeck seized the needle and a burned spoon found in Haspe's other sock.

State Parole Agent Frank Horvath took possession of the knives. Having the weapons violated the terms of Haspe's parole. Horvath said that Haspe did not have a doctor's prescription for the needle. Haspe admitted that was true.

Haspe was sent back to state prison for the parole violations as he awaits action on the new charges.

Haspe had been arrested by Jim Thorpe police for criminal trespass and theft. The charges stemmed from an incident at a workplace in the borough where he stole credit cards from the lunchbox of a fellow worker, David Salla. At the work site, he stole tools and other items which belonged to Angelina Ingrasssia.

Haspe was also charged with taking $80 in cash from Salla. At his sentencing, Haspe told Nanovic he had an addiction to both cocaine and heroin at the time of the incidents.

In October of 2008, Haspe was sentenced by Carbon County Judge Roger Nanovic to serve six to 18 months in a state facility on the trespass count and two years probation on the theft charge. The prison term ran consecutive to a one- to two-year term he was serving on a sentence imposed in Schuylkill County.

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