Court drops case
For nearly three years there was an outstanding arrest warrant out for Francine B. Geusic of Lansford.
During that span, a police chief who allegedly was supposed to serve the warrant was in Geusic's home, but never said anything about it.
As a result, Carbon County President Judge Roger N. Nanovic II ordered that the charges against Geusic be dismissed because her rights to a speedy trial and fair adjudication were violated.
On Dec. 5, 2006, the warrant was issued during which Geusic was charged with a felony, aggravated assault for driving while under the influence of alcohol, as a result of an accident.
There were also two misdemeanor counts against her.
Mahoning Township, where the accident occurred, never proceeded to arrest her on the warrant. They said they asked a former Lansford Chief of Police to serve it.
Geusic claimed that she was a friend of the police chief and he was even at her residence. Still, she said she didn't know the warrant existed until Aug. 19, 2009. She then turned herself in to authorities.
The judge based his decision on a rule which requires the trial of a criminal case to begin within 365 days of the date when the criminal complaint was filed.
According to court records, Geusic was involved in a three-vehicle motor vehicle accident on Oct. 31, 2006, in Mahoning Township. She reportedly crossed into the eastbound lane of Route 443 and struck an oncoming vehicle driven by Robert Speshok. The Speshok vehicle struck a third vehicle.
The investigating officer, Audie Mertz of the township's police department, determined Geusic was driving while intoxicated.
This was confirmed when the results of a blood alcohol test showed a content of .22 percent. The test results were returned to police on Nov. 14, 2006.
Two weeks later, a criminal complaint on the charges was filed with the office of District Judge Edward Lewis of Jim Thorpe. Lewis then issued an arrest warrant on Dec. 5, 2006.
Court records state, "Not until Aug. 19, 2009, after defendant unexpectedly learned that a warrant was outstanding for her arrest and made arrangements to voluntarily appear at Judge Lewis' office was the warrant executed and service of the complaint made on defendant. On this same date, defendant was arraigned before Judge Lewis and bail was set at $10,000 unsecured."
A preliminary hearing was scheduled on Aug. 26, 2009, and continued several times until being waived on Dec. 9, 2009.
The decision by Judge Nanovic states: "Officer Mertz testified that sometime between Dec. 5, 2006, the date the warrant was issued, and April 4, 2008, when he was injured and began disability leave, he contacted (former) Chief Strauss of the Lansford Police Department to arrest defendant and effect service of the complaint."
It adds that Officer Mertz "did not know the date of this contact, or whether he provided Chief Strauss with a copy of the arrest warrant and complaint. According to Officer Mertz, he heard nothing from Chief Strauss on the matter and made no further attempt to contact Chief Strauss."
Geusic testified that "Chief Strauss was a personal friend of hers, that he had been in her home on several occasions since the accident, that he knew where she lived and how to reach her, and that he never mentioned that a criminal complaint had been filed against her or that a warrant was outstanding for her arrest."
Judge Nanovic ruled that "no evidence was presented that Officer Mertz or anyone else ever attempted to call defendant at her home."