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Man who stole from chief's house sentenced to state program

Published June 22. 2012 05:01PM

A Carbon County man, who broke into the home of Lehighton's fire chief, two days after the chief has passed away, was sentenced to a state program on Thursday in Carbon County court.

Ryan Heiser, 20, of Lehighton, was sentenced by President Judge Roger N. Nanovic II to serve 24 months in the state's Intermediate Punishment Program (IPP) on a charge of burglary.

Heiser was arrested by Lehighton police for entering the home of John Kuller, on April 26, 2011. Kuller, who was the borough's fire chief, died two days prior.

Taken in the break-in was a set of Rosary beeds and other jewelry. There also was extensive damages to the home.

At the time of his guilty plea Kuller family members expressed deep distress over the entry. When accepting the plea, Nanovic called the incident a "heinous crime."

The IPP is an intensive program for prisoners who are addicted to illegal substances. It includes time spent in a state prison, several programs must be completed successfully, and eventually time in a half-way house, if the person qualities.

Yesterday Nanovic sentenced Heiser via video from the state prison system where Heiser is currently house. He was recently sentenced in Monroe County to the state IPP for a series of break-ins.

Heiser told Nanovic he was high on drugs when he committed the Kuller break-in and was robbing homes to get money to buy more drugs.

In addition to the prison term Nanovic ordered Heiser to make restitution to the Kuller estate of $1,675 for damages done to the home, and get a drug and alcohol evaluation.

The Carbon sentence runs concurrent with the Monroe term.


Susan Lynn Steinhauser, 30, of Lehighton, who was charged in connection with the Kuller break-in, pleaded guilty yesterday to one count each of theft and receiving stolen property.

Police said Heiser gave Steinhauser the Rosary beeds and the other jewelry taken, which included diamond earrings, a watch, and other assorted jewelry, taken from the residence.

She told Nanovic she was also high on drugs at the time of the incident. Since her arrest she successfully completed a outpatient recovery program that ran for about a year. She continues to receive counseling and said she is drug free for over a year.

On the theft count Nanovic sentenced her to time served (87 days) to one year in jail and immediately paroled her. She was ordered to make restitution for the items stolen and sold totaling $1,500, and get a D&A evaluation. On the receiving charge she was placed on probation for a year, concurrent with the theft count.

Both were also ordered to pay court costs, which average about $1,000, and pay a $50 per month supervision fee while on probation or parole.

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