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carbon court Admits role in robbery

Published January 04. 2014 09:01AM

A Tamaqua man, who had a Lehighton address at the time, admitted to his part in the robbery of a Lansford store.

Scott Heffelfinger, 26, pleaded guilty in Carbon County court on Friday before Judge Steven R. Serfass, to one count of robbery for an incident at the Turkey Hill Market along E. Patterson St. that occurred on Aug. 28, 2013. In exchange for the plea other counts of robbery and theft were dropped.

Heffelfinger was one of five persons charged in the robbery, but named as one of two who actually entered the store and the one who left with a bag of money.

Heffelfinger and John A. Simonson, 19, of Lansford, entered the store and demanded money from the clerk, police said. Heffelfinger also displayed a knife during the robbery but never actually threatened the clerk with it.

Also charged for their parts in the incident, with Simonson and Heffelfinger were Ray Ziegenfuss III, 19; Nicole Christman, 19; both of Lansford, and Alyssa Gryzik, 18, of Summit Hill. Police said the three others helped plan the robbery.

During the robbery Simonson also grabbed several packs of cigarettes while leaving the store. While Simonson and Heffelfinger robbed the store the other three defendants hung around at 220 W. Front St. to await their return. After robbing the store Simonson and Heffelfinger ran to 220 W. Front St. throwing the hoodies they wore in the store into the woods. Once at 220 W. Front St. the five divvied up the money.

Yesterday, defense Attorney Gregory Lee Mousseau, of the public defenders office, said his client was "reluctantly" entering his plea. In December 2013 Heffelfinger appeared before Judge Joseph J. Matika to plea to the same charge but the jurist refused to accept it when Heffelfinger did not want to admit having the knife. Yesterday he did not deny it.

Mousseau also said his client is claiming the store clerk, identified as Robert Clifford II, was involved in the incident saying he had told the others about the money bag. However, police have never indicated that Clifford was involved in any way and he was never charged.

Serfass told Heffelfinger that he is facing a state prison term at the time of sentencing due to his prior record score and state sentencing guidelines.

Serfass accepted the plea but deferred sentencing ordering the adult probation office to prepare a presentence investigation report.

Heffelfinger was scheduled to go on trial on Monday on all charges filed against him in the case.

Simonson previously pleaded guilty to his part and was sentenced to serve three to one day less 24 months in the county prison. Gryzik pleaded to her part and was placed on probation for a year.

Christman and Ziegenfuss are scheduled to enter guilty pleas this month.

Steals from mother

Robert Bell III, of Weatherly, pleaded guilty to one count of receiving stolen property.

He admitted taking two diamond rings from the home of his mother, Bonnelynn Bell, at 127 N. Stage Coach Road, in Lausanne Township, on July 3, 2013, and selling them at a coin and gold store in Hazleton.

State police at Hazleton were contacted by Mrs. Bell about the theft and she told them she felt her son had taken the rings.

Serfass deferred sentencing so that Bell can enter a drug rehabilitation program. Sentencing is scheduled for February.

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