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Another defendant in drive-by shooting pleads; sent to state jail

Published January 30. 2013 05:02PM

The third of four defendants in a drive-by shooting that occurred in Weatherly in February 2011, entered a guilty plea on Tuesday in Carbon County court and was immediately sentenced to a state prison term.

Andrew L. Ortiz, 24, of Hazleton, pleaded guilty to one count each of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, recklessly endangering another person, criminal conspiracy to endanger another person, and discharging a firearm into an occupied structure.

Judge Steven R. Serfass accepted the plea and immediately sentenced Ortiz to serve a total of four to eight years in a state correctional institution.

Ortiz is the third of four persons charged in connection with the shooting incident to enter a plea.

Also entering pleas in the case were co-defendants James Delbo, 34, of Ashland, and Christopher Ray Harris, 24, of McAdoo. They pleaded to the same counts and each were sentenced to serve four to eight years in a state prison.

Ortiz told Serfass, "I take full responsibility for what I did." He said he was thankful no one got hurt.

Serfass restated what he told the other two defendants who had pleaded guilty, that the incident could have turned out very tragic.

The incident occurred on Feb. 13, 2011, along Yeakle Street in the borough.

Borough police were called to the area about 2:55 a.m. to a report of shots fired. The investigation revealed that three houses, a garage, a vehicle, and a utility pole, were hit with rounds fired from a 9mm and a .22-caliber firearms. The three houses struck were at 319, 327, and 335 Yeakle St. The vehicle hit was parked in front of 319 Yeakle.

Police said the residents of 319 Yeakle St. were Tara and Steven Barnic, who said they were asleep at the time along with their children, two sons, ages 15 and two, and a one-year-old daughter.

Through the course of the investigation police learned that Delbo had made threats on the lives of Matt Sipler and Alyssa A. Adams. He had resided with them along Yeakle St., but was asked to leave when he failed to pay rent. Police said his threats included that he would "get even" with them for evicting him from the residence.

Ortiz said he was the driver of the vehicle involved. However, at the time of his sentencing Delbo said he was the driver.

The fourth suspect in the case, Joshua Zink, of Columbia, still has his case pending.

In addition to the jail term, Serfass ordered Ortiz to supply a DNA sample, make restitution of $1,486.69, his share of the total due, and when released on parole render 300 hours of community service.

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