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County planner in jail for assault

Published October 25. 2013 05:00PM

A Carbon County government official has been arrested for breaking into his ex-girlfriend's home and punching her boyfriend, police say.

James Martino, 47, of Lake Harmony, was arrested Thursday by Kidder Township police and charged with burglary, and two counts of criminal trespass, all felonies. He was also charged with simple assault, harassment and criminal mischief.

Martino was arraigned before District Judge Joseph D. Homanko of Weatherly, and jailed in Carbon County Correctional Facility under $25,000 bail.

According to an affidavit of probable cause filed with Homanko by Officer David Mason, here's what happened:

Mason received a call from the county communications center at about 1 a.m. alerting him to an assault that had happened at 93 N. Lake Drive in Lake Harmony. The dispatcher said that Martino had left the house.

As Mason was on his way to the house, he saw a white Mercedes Benz speeding in the opposite direction, south, on state route 1003.

The officer recognized the car from previous contacts as Martino's. He turned around and, with lights flashing and siren sounding, took off after the Mercedes, but couldn't find it.

Mason then headed to the house at 93 North Lake Drive.

There, he was met by homeowner Jennifer Bloyer and her boyfriend, Nicholas Gebhardt. They told Mason that Martino somehow got into the house and walked up the stairs to a bedroom where Bloyer and Gebhardt were watching a movie.

Martino punched Gebhardt in the face, laughed, and went out through the back door.

Bloyer and Gebhardt then heard smashing sounds and glass breaking. Martino came back into the house, laughed again, and left.

Bloyer and Gebhardt said that both doors to the house had been locked, and that they didn't know how Martino had gotten in.

Mason noticed that Gebhardt had a cut under his right eye, and bruises. He took the couple to the township police station so they could give police written statements, and so pictures could be taken of Gebhardt's injuries. Gebhardt refused medical treatment.

The affidavit does not include information as to how police found Martino.

Martino has worked for the county's Office of Planning and Development, as its Community Development Block Grant Program coordinator and in the home rehabilitation program, for about seven years.

His arrest leaves the office short-staffed; Director Judy Borger retired in September. Now, the office is down to three employees.

Commissioners Chairman Wayne Nothstein declined to comment on the matter.

"It's one of those personnel issues we're not allowed to discuss. At this point, we cannot comment," he said in a telephone interview early today.

Martino coordinates Community Development Block Grant projects for municipalities, including Lansford, where he was helping the borough with its final CDBG project, paving a stretch of Bertsch Street. Lansford no longer qualifies for the entitlement grants because the latest U.S. Census count put its population at under the 4,000-resident minimum.

Borough council president Rosemary Cannon was unhappy to learn of Martino's arrest.

"I really won't know (how the arrest will affect the project) until we get farther down the pike," she said. "I feel very sorry to hear this. Jimmy was working very hard."

His current troubles aren't the first: In August, Kidder police cited Martino for burning recyclable materials.

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