Herb's neighbor, an off-duty Scranton cop, told her to watch her potty mouth, so she swore at him and he pressed charges. The case captured national attention and the American Civil Liberties Union of Pennsylvania plunged into the case.
HOLY SMOKES: FAKE PRIEST COLLARED
Brian J. Rush, 28, of Wilkes-Barre, sinned by impersonating a priest to score free groceries from a local supermarket. Rush selected goodies such as four two-pound packages of shrimp, a carton of cigarettes, cans of energy drink, steaks and floral arrangements from Gerrity's and put them on the tab of St. Rocco's Church in Pittston.
"He played the part," said West Pittston police officer Joe Campbell.
"Why would you question a priest?"
The scam lasted for a few weeks, but Rush's unholy act came to light when store officials grew suspicious over his increasingly bizarre and unlikely purchases.
Rush was charged with attempted theft in early December, and more charges were filed Dec. 19.
WANT SYRUP WITH THAT SMACK?
Aunt Jemima and Mrs. Butterworth would shake their heads in disgust over three local men who tried to sell pancake mix as heroin.
Jared Pradel of West Pittston, Joshua Evans of Kingston and Ryan Kehoe of Wilkes-Barre were arrested Nov. 14 for trying to peddle pseudo-heroin in a fast-food restaurant in Wyoming.
Arresting officer Richard Kotchik of the Kingston Police said selling fake illegal drugs carries the same charges as selling real drugs.
Kehoe was accused of filling several small plastic bags with pancake mix. He got Pradel to sell it for $100 to a man in the restaurant, while Kehoe and Evans waited in a vehicle in the parking lot, according to police documents.
The trio planned to sell the fake heroin so they could buy real heroin in New Jersey, police said.
NO APPROBATION FOR GAWK-ATION SENSATION
In August, Gentlemen's Club 10 owner Sal Scalzo wanted to hold "Hooters and Scooters" in the parking lot of the BYOB strip club. He conceived the outdoor event, which was to feature motorcycles, a pig roast and strippers in tank tops and shorts, as a fundraiser for charity.
"It's no different than any other business doing a charitable event. A business is a business, whether it's a gas station or a strip club," Scalzo said at the time. But the Wilkes-Barre Township zoning board nixed holding the event outdoors.
Board member Paul Williamson feared it could create a safety hazard: "gawk-ation," or increased traffic and rubbernecking by passers-by on Mundy Street.
"It's completely about health, safety and welfare for residents of the township and anyone else who might be in the area," Williamson said.
"He's no different than any other business. Bottom line is we're worried about safety."
BASEBALL TEAM MASCOT STRIKES OUT
A man who sometimes played the Grump for the former Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Red Barons is doing time for sexually assaulting a 14-year-old boy he met in an Internet chat room and trying to meet what he thought was another 14-year-old boy for sex.
Jay Hastings, the "backup to the backup" mascot for the baseball team, pled guilty to charges including statutory sexual assault, involuntary deviate sexual intercourse, indecent assault and unlawful contact with a minor.
Hastings, 42, arranged to meet a 14-year-old boy at a local mall. Andy Mehalshick of WBRE's I-Team caught the Grump green-handed when the boy turned out to be a decoy.
Hastings also had a computer full of child porn at home, police said.
GRASS-GROWING GRANNY GOES TO JAIL
Ukrainian immigrant Lidiya Gurinovich is appealing her March conviction of conspiring to grow and sell marijuana with her former son-in-law, Boris Petrov. Police found 1,999 potted pot plants in July 2005 when they raided Gurinovich and Petrov's Plymouth home.
Gurinovich, 76, said she wasn't involved and didn't even know what marijuana was, but her claims went up in smoke when prosecutors said she was discovered in a locked room cutting the grass.
Petrov's defense was he grew the marijuana for tea and to take baths, but he initially told prosecutors he was looking to pay back $60,000 he lost in a card game with the Russian Mafia.
A jury weeded through the arguments and found Petrov and Gurinovich guilty of possession of a controlled substance, manufacturing and processing with the intent to deliver, criminal conspiracy and possession of drug paraphernalia.
TALE OF THE MISSING LYNX
Cats in trees are common. But a pregnant Canadian Lynx in a tree is something you don't see every day.
"Sixteen years on the job - this is a new one for me," said James Jolley, a local wildlife conservation officer for the Pennsylvania Game Commission who captured the lynx in Plymouth.
A local man, who had been awarded part of an $11 million medical malpractice settlement in 2005, was arrested for swiping the rare wildcat during the armed robbery of an exotic animal breeder.
The breeder, Ronald Derr, said William F. Bobbett bribed him with cash, then took the lynx at gunpoint when Derr refused the illegal sale.
"He said, 'I'll give you $10,000 for that lynx right there.' He said, 'Let me explain something to you - I'm rich,'" Derr said. "He wanted it in the worst way."
Trooper Kenneth Houck Jr., of state police at Bloomsburg, said it was an unusual case. "These cats aren't a joke. They could do some damage."
PLAYING POSSUM IN EDWARDSVILLE
Edwardsville firefighters and paramedics had an unexpected guest in the borough's emergency vehicle garage on May 30: a mother opossum brought her brood into the Main Street building and settled down next to an industrial vacuum cleaner.
"This is the cutest thing, but, I mean, why here?" fire and ambulance company member Ann Marie Slymock said.
Police officers, firefighters and paramedics, afraid to disturb mama possum, cordoned her and her brood and called the state game commission. An official arrived and released the family into a more appropriate home in the woods.
PENITENT PUMPKIN PITCHER
After a few drinks, Scott Eisenhauer Sr. got an urge to harass his ex-girlfriend on Oct. 23, according to police.
The Plymouth man went to his ex's Cherry Street home and shouted obscenities, then hurled two pumpkins through her front windows, police said. He told police he regretted his choice of projectiles: the pumpkins belonged to his grandkid. Eisenhauer pled guilty and received probation, according to court documents.
WHERE'S THE FIRE?
Markia Henry of Wilkes-Barre was taken into custody at the scene of an East Northampton Street fire on Sept. 11, after police said she failed several field sobriety tests.
Henry drove her sports utility vehicle over a fire hose, hit a Self-Contained Breathing Apparatus - a specialized air tank that costs between $5,000 and $6,000 - and almost struck a firefighter, police said.
Firefighters nonetheless quickly got the electrical fire extinguished.
SHOCKED BY A SHELL
A realtor inspecting a house at 387 Hazle St., Wilkes-Barre, on Oct. 19 found a surprise: a three-foot long World War II artillery shell.
"It was primarily used for shooting down airplanes. It can cause some significant damage," Luzerne County Emergency Management Agency Director Steve Bekanich said at the time.
Wilkes-Barre police and Scranton's bomb squad blocked off Hazle Street, secured the shell and detonated it in the fields behind the Huber Breaker.
KADLUBOSKI COLLARS THE KID
Joseph Solomon Jr. managed to elude police twice, but he couldn't get past City Wide Towing owner and freelance crimefighter Bob Kadluboski.
A three-day manhunt in late March ended with near-hysteria in Wilkes-Barre Township as Solomon, armed with a loaded gun and a fast car, tried to outrun the law.
Solomon, then 22, faced a galaxy of charges after leading police on two high-speed chases in three days, slamming several police cruisers in the process.
On March 29, police spotted Solomon driving a garbage truck erratically. When they tried to pull him over, Solomon rammed two police cruisers. He re-emerged two days later, in the back seat of his mother's Mercedes.
When police stopped that car, Solomon jumped into the driver's seat and sped off. Officers surrounded the car on East Northampton Street, and panicked firefighters ordered curious bystanders back into their homes.
Solomon ran into the woods and evaded police again.
Solomon was slick, but Kadluboski was slicker. He caught the buzz on his police scanner that night and decided to join in.
Kadluboski brought the manhunt to an end when he held Solomon at gunpoint until police arrived. In the aftermath, Kadluboski basked in the glory of his citizen's arrest, calling press conferences and accepting congratulations for his efforts.
His wave of popularity couldn't land him in a Luzerne County commissioner's chair, however. Kadluboski asked to fill the vacancy after Todd Vonderheid resigned, but county officials chose Rose Tucker for the seat instead.
Tensions heated up in Wilkes-Barre City Council Chambers as the November election approached. Mayor Tom Leighton's challenger, Linda Stets-Urban, took to campaigning at meetings with such fervor she ended up with a police escort out of one on Sept. 18. After that, Stets-Urban decided she ought to press for the enforcement of an obscure 1960 city ordinance prohibiting political signs on public property.
So when Stets-Urban spotted a Leighton sign on the tree lawn of city employee Ed Pesotski, she removed it and placed it on his porch. In response to police questioning, she argued tree lawns were public property and the signs should not have been permitted there.
By some coincidence, the only political signs city employees removed were 14 belonging to Republican council candidate Walter Griffith. The trend caught on in other jurisdictions, as signs throughout the county began disappearing.
MORE BUST THAN BLAST
Kingston's 150th anniversary was supposed to be a blowout bash, including two solid months' worth of events.
It blew out, all right - like a flat tire.
Municipal officials became concerned when ticket sales lagged for a Kingston Trio concert at the F.M. Kirby Center. Mayor James Haggerty and Municipal Administrator Paul Keating blamed football fever. The concert conflicted with the Penn State/Notre Dame football game. They tried to compensate by putting a big screen TV in the lobby, which didn't help woo Nittany Lions or Fightin' Irish fans.
But the biggest downer was when sluggish ticket sales forced the cancellation of the Nov. 24 anniversary dinner, which was supposed to be the highlight of the anniversary celebration.
BURNIN' DOWN THE HOUSE - OR NOT
On April 18, a Plymouth, man threatened to burn down the house. Nahin Grady, who was 22 at the time, doused his duplex with gasoline and ran outside, spilling gas on a family member in the process.
Firefighters swarmed the scene, fearing the house would ignite. They closed the street and evacuated neighbors.
Nothing happened, but fire officials remained on standby for hours. Luzerne County District Attorney David Lupas and his deputy, Jackie Musto Carroll, addressed the media outside of the home.
All the sound and fury Grady generated signified nothing: after all the hullaballoo, Grady was never charged with anything, according to Luzerne County court records.
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