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Woman admits part in smuggling drugs into jail

Published August 19. 2011 05:03PM

A Wilkes-Barre woman, formerly of Palmerton, admitted to her part in smuggling drugs into the county prison by using postage stamps. She was one of several defendants in pending cases to enter a guilty plea on Thursday in the county court before President Judge Roger N. Nanovic II.

Eleven arrested

Kristin M. Gemmel, 26, was one of 11 persons arrested in March by agents of the state Attorney General's office and charged with smuggling illegal drugs into the prsion in the inmates' incoming mail.

At the time District Attorney Gary F. Dobias called the arrests part of "Operation Postage Stamp." Prosecutors said the drug Suboxone, which is used to treat heroin addition, and is commonly produced in pill form, but is now manufactured in thin, film-like strips, was the drug smuggled. The film strips of the drug was placed under the postage stamps of letters sent to inmates in the jail. Among the 11 arrested were five inmates.

Gemmel pleaded to one count of criminal use of a communication facility, a felony three. She admitted to a phone call she received from her then boyfriend, Chad Hartsell, 29, from the prison arranging for the drug to be mailed to him. Hartsell was also among the 11 arrested.

Nanovic accepted the plea but deferred sentencing ordering the adult probation office to prepare a prsentence investigation (PSI).

Other pleas

Other defendants who entered guilty pleas included:

Ricky Lee Propst, 43, of Lehighton and formerly of Tamauqa, pleaded guilty in two pending criminal cases and was sentenced to a state prison term.

Propst pleaded to one count of failure to notify change of address, a felony three, and a parole violation. Propst was on parole after serving a county prison term of five months to one day less two years on a count of indecent assault. He had been arrested by Lehighton police in May 2007 for having inappropriate contact with a young boy.

He was sentenced on March 23, 2010. He was arrested on Feb. 3, by police after it was learned he moved from Tamaqua to Lehighton. The indecent assault charge falls under the provisions of Megan's Law in which Propst must register for 10 years with state police and must notify them within 48 hours if he changes his address.

Police said Propst moved from Tamaqua in late 2010 and never notified police. He was found at a Lehighton address in January.

The adult probation office moved to revoke his parole because he failed to pay anything on his court costs and did not submit to a sexual offenders evaluation as ordered by Nanovic.

Nanovic sentenced Propst to serve one to two years in a state prison on the failure to report. After revoking his parole, Nanovic sentenced him to serve six to 12 months on the parole violation, running consecutive to the first count for a total prison term of 18 to 36 months. He was given credit of 136 days in jail on the failure to report charge and 40 days on the parole violation.

Miranda Mooney, 22, of Andreas, pleaded guilty to two counts of driving under the influence (DUI) and one count of inhaling toxic substances.

She was arrested on the first DUI on Feb. 17 along Mill Road in Mahoning Township. She was under the influence after inhaling dust spray. The second arrest occurred on March 31 along SR443 in Mahoning Township. Given a test, the result was .08BAC.

The inhaling charge was filed for an incident on Feb. 3, also in Mahoning Township, where she was found along Fredericks Road slumped over the wheel of a car after inhaling dust spray.

Defense Atty. George Dydynsky said his client has had an addiction problem that started with cocaine and other illegal drugs and turned to inhaling because "she didn't have the money to buy drugs so buying the dust spray was cheaper." He said she is currently addressing her problem and plans to enter a rehab program after her release from prison.

On the first DUI count she was sentenced to serve 72 hours to six months in jail, a fine of $1,000 and one year license suspension. On the second DUI she was placed on probation for six months and ordered to pay a fine of $300, consecutive to the first DUI.

On the inhaling charge she was placed on probation for one year, also consecutive to to the other counts. She was also ordered to get both drug and alcohol (D&A) and mental health evaluations and zero tolerance imposed on D&A use.

She was given credit for 128 days spent in prison on the charges.

Stephen M. Kamonka, 32, of Walnutport, formerly of Lehighton, pleaded to one count of simple assault. He was arrested for an incident that occurred on Dec. 19, 2010, at his then residence along Third St. in Lehighton. The listed victim of the assault charge was his then roommate, Brett Brobst. He was also charged with assaulting his wife, Tiffany Chase, in the same incident, but that charge was dropped at the request of Chase.

Nanovic sentenced him to serve one to 12 months in prison followed by one year probation. He was also ordered to pay restitution to Brobst of $430, get both D&A and mental health evaluations.

He will begin the jail term on Friday, Aug. 19, at noon and serve it on consecutive weekends.

Ronald Anthony Ventura, 25, of Albrightsville, pleaded to one count each of possession of a controlled substance-heroin, false identification to police and retail theft.

He was arrested on March 22 at the Rite Aid pharmacy in Lehighton for taking a pair of sunglasses and not paying for them.

During the investigation police found heroin packets in Ventura's motorcycle along with some cocaine and $2,281 in cash on his person. Venture denied the money was drug related, but it has been seized by police.

At the time of his arrest Venture was on parole on other counts. He said he was high on drugs when arrested.

On the possession count he was sentenced to serve three to 12 months in prison and one year probation on the false ID, with the terms running consecutively. He was fined $300 on the retail theft charge.

He was also ordered to get a D&A evaluation. He was given credit for three days spent in jail on the charge. He is currently in jail serving a 60 days sentence on other charges.

Stephanie Fairchild, 29, of Lehighton, pleaded to one count of retail theft, as a felony three. She was arrested by Lehighton police for an incident at Mallard's Market for attempting to steal $41.82 worth of merchandise.

Nanovic placed her on probation for 18 months and ordered she supply a DNA sample and pay the $250 fee.

ARD placement

Kelly Ann Krajcir, 32, of Jim Thorpe, was placed in the county's Accelerated Rehabilitation Disposition (AR) probation program for first time offenders on a charge of endangering the welfare of a child. If she successfully completes all conditions of the program her record is wiped clean. She does not admit guilt in entering the program.

She was arested by Jim Thorpe police on Jan. 1, 2010, for an incident in which involved a 13-year-old female and a 11-year-old male as the victims.

Nanovic placed her for two years and ordered she pay $350 for the cost of the program, get a mental health evaluation and follow any recommendation for treatment, and have no contact with the victims.

Each defendant must also pay court costs and a $50 per month supervision fee while on probation or parole.

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