OldArchive / District Justices

Tim Clark, Towanda


Robert Thomas Ford, 26, Towanda, faces charges for careless driving, damage to property, and failure to report an accident or render aid after he was interviewed in the emergency room of Towanda Memorial Hospital on June 6. Ford allegedly told police that he had wrecked his vehicle near Sheshequin Gardens Greenhouse on SR 1043 at about 6:45 that morning in the area of a school bus stop. He related that he saw children at the bus stop looking and pointing at something, which turned out to be a coyote. Concerned at first that it might be one of the youths’ pet dog, he swerved to avoid the animal, hit a mailbox, a ditch, and a tree. Ford reportedly spoke to the owner of the mailbox, but need not talk about restitution. A couple living near the accident scene let Ford use a phone to call his girlfriend and employer, the latter of which supposedly said that Ford could use company equipment to remove the crashed vehicle from the ditch. He added that fellow employees said that they would take care of the vehicle while his girlfriend drove him to the hospital for treatment of his injuries, at which time hospital personnel told him the accident had to be reported. Ford allegedly professed to police that he was not aware of his legal responsibility to do so, but an investigation into a 2005 accident involving Ford indicated that he was aware of the law. Witnesses at the scene reportedly told police that the accident actually occurred closer to 6:15 a.m., when there would have been no children at the bus stop. A preliminary hearing is set for Aug. 3.

Two Monroeton men, Kaleb Michael Whyte, 21, and Cameron Jeffrey Martin, 21, face charges for allegedly breaking into as many as six seasonal cabins in Monroe and Overton townships between November 2010 and Jan. 14 and stealing items ranging from a cordless drill, chainsaw, and leaf blower to bottles of liquor, a fox taxidermy mount, and a turkey picture. A cabin owner called police in March and invited police to see the damage to the structure on Millstone Road in Overton Township. When the patrolman arrived, the victim gave him a cellphone belonging to Martin that had apparently been left behind during the robbery. Police investigated Martin first, who reportedly admitted to four break-ins and implicated Whyte. Whyte corroborated Martin’s accounts of the burglaries and added two more seasonal residences to the list, which he pointed out as police drove him past the cabins. In addition to about $900 in stolen items, police reported about $1,000 in damage to the buildings. Both men will answer to related charges at a July 20 preliminary hearing.

Joshua Ray Vanderpool, 22, Rome, faces charges for burglary, unlawful taking, receiving stolen property, and criminal trespass for allegedly entering a Best Western hotel under construction on Route 6 in North Towanda Township on several occasions between May 14 and 19 and stealing electric wiring, which he then sold at a scrap yard. Police were tipped off to the theft by a defendant they were interviewing for an unrelated case. The other defendant told police that he had told Vanderpool about the location and abundance of wiring at the hotel construction site and that Vanderpool later came to him and showed a receipt for about $300 and expressed his pride in removing and selling the material. He was set to face the judge at a preliminary hearing on June 29.

Zachary Evan Coolbaugh, 19, Towanda, faces charges for criminal trespass, disorderly conduct, purchase of alcohol by a minor, and possession of a small amount of marijuana after being pulled out of a fight on Second Street, Towanda, at about 10:40 p.m. on May 31. Police allege that Coolbaugh and a female companion arrived at the home of a Towanda man and his mother and refused to leave when asked to do so. When Coolbaugh allegedly knocked down the mother, her son jumped to her defense, which was the beginning of the fight to which police arrived. The reporting officer stated that Coolbaugh’s female companion was also placed in custody for refusing to follow orders to step back, although no information about charges against her have been made available at this time. A preliminary hearing for Coolbaugh is set for July 6.

Mark Lee Halvorson, 40, New Albany, faces charges for assault and terroristic threats after he allegedly struck, head-butted, and kicked his wife multiple times just after midnight on June 26. The victim told police that Halverson had been drinking with friends in the Monroeton area and came home and accused her of having an affair. The victim’s daughter came home during the course of the assault and confirmed the altercation with police, noting that Halvorson also shoved her in the shoulder. The defendant reportedly refused to be interviewed via phone, so police have issued a warrant for his arrest. He faces a July 6 preliminary hearing.

Richard Leigh Johnson, 44, Towanda, faces charges for his alleged involvement in the theft of numerous items from a seasonal residence south of Weston Road in Monroe Township. Johnson was implicated in the theft of metal items such as stainless steel sinks, an antique cast iron stove, and a Liberty Bell replica between April 3 and 10 that also reportedly involved Adam Lynn Chilson and Casey Rowe. The value of the items, which were then sold at two area salvage yards, is estimated at $1,925. Johnson faces a July 20 preliminary hearing.

Carl Allen Hutchins, 44, Towanda, was reportedly called into work on the afternoon of June 6, but told police that he should have stayed at home, where he had allegedly been drinking beer and whiskey and cola. State police from Towanda responded to a call from a motorist who said that Hutchins was driving erratically and dangerously on Route 6 in Burlington Township at about 4 p.m. before pulling into the Dandy Mini-Mart in Burlington and parking on the sidewalk. Store employees confirmed with police that Hutchins appeared to be intoxicated and smelled strongly of alcohol. A clerk at the store’s hot food counter was unable to take the man’s order because, according to the report, his speech was so slurred. Out of concern for Hutchins’s safety and that of others, a store employee removed the keys from the ignition of Hutchins’s vehicle, which was still on the sidewalk when police arrived at the scene. In the meantime, Hutchins had walked behind the counter to get a can of chewing tobacco, which he paid for, but he allegedly removed a pair of sunglasses valued at $17 for which he did not pay. He was arrested for theft, DUI, and related driving offenses after telling police that he “shouldn’t have been driving.” Police noted that Hutchins waived participation in field sobriety tests, opting instead for a ride to Towanda Memorial Hospital, where a blood draw revealed a BAC of .21. Hutchins was also driving without proper vehicle registration and a suspended driver’s license. A preliminary hearing is set for Aug. 3.

Michael Joseph O’Malley, III, 53, New Albany, faces charges for DUI, careless driving, and failure to use a seatbelt after he was involved in a crash on Overton Road on April 16. Police interviewed O’Malley in the kitchen of his residence, just north of the crash scene, where he admitted to having had a few beers before the crash but denied drinking any after the crash even though, according to police, there were three beer cans sitting in front of him at the table. The officer observed two of the cans to be empty and the third can to be half full. Police report that the section of Overton Road in question was a straight stretch and that the seatbelt was locked against the seat, while O’Malley allegedly said that he was wearing it at the time of the crash. O’Malley submitted to a breathalyzer test, which indicated a BAC of .199. His preliminary hearing is set for July 20.

Jeremy Matthew McKenzie, 25, Rome, faces charges for carrying firearms without a license, as well as DUI and related charges after a traffic stop on the Merrill Parkway in Towanda at about 2 a.m. on March 19. Police reported that McKenzie was pulled over because he ran the stop sign at the end of Weston Street. The defendant allegedly refused to participate in sobriety tests, though he cooperated with police and indicated that he had a loaded pistol in his glove compartment when asked if he had any firearms in the vehicle. Blood drawn at Towanda Memorial Hospital indicated a BAC of .109. McKenzie’s preliminary hearing is set for Aug. 10.

Jessie Alan Rodriguez, 28, Norman, OK, was arrested for high rate DUI and driving without a license after he was allegedly found sleeping in his running vehicle at 2:40 a.m. on April 22. The reporting officer called for backup when he was unable to awaken Rodriguez, who was parked in front of the Ben Franklin store on Main Street with his left turn signal on. Once the two officers were able to open the driver’s side door and get Rodriguez’ attention, they smelled a heavy odor of alcohol. Rodriguez allegedly admitted to having had as many as seven drinks at a nearby bar, but was unable to answer additional questions posed by police. As it was an unseasonably cold evening and the defendant was wearing a T-shirt and no jacket, the police decided to forego field sobriety tests and took Rodriguez to the hospital, where he refused three times to submit to a drug test, claiming that sleeping in one’s car does not constitute DUI in Oklahoma. It was unclear where the defendant actually resides, as he claimed to be living at a nearby bed and breakfast, but the owner of the building said that Rodriguez did not live there. The preliminary hearing is set for July 20.

Residents of Maryland and Texas were charged with DUI and related driving offenses during unrelated, routine traffic stops on Main Street in Towanda. Michael Anthony Melito, 35, Mount Airy, MD, was arrested on April 28 with a BAC of .196, and Juan Vega Garcia, 45, Dallas, TX, was arrested on May 5 with a BAC of .218. Both men face preliminary hearings on Aug. 10.

Private criminal complaints were filed recently at the Towanda magisterial district office against three local women for various degrees of fraudulently obtaining vouchers from the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program over the past year by misreporting income. Chasitie Barnes, 27, Towanda; Stephanie Dunn, 29, Troy, and Elizabeth Firestine, 29, Sayre, all face preliminary hearings on July 22. 

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