Written by Dan Miller
Middletown’s Nixle alert system turned out to be the key in locating a borough man who had been reported missing by his family.
A nurse at the Penn State Milton S. Hershey Medical Center saw the alert that borough police had posted just after 8:30 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 21, regarding Kristofor M. Rico.
The nurse called borough police to tell them that Rico was safe at the medical center, where an ambulance had taken him after Rico had been in an accident outside of Middletown early Friday evening, Jan. 20, said Patrolman Mark Laudenslager, who was in charge of the investigation to find Rico.
Rico’s family had contacted Middletown police on Jan. 20, saying that the 39-year-old Rico had not been seen since leaving his apartment in the borough shortly before 6 p.m. that night.
The call was initially dispatched to borough police officers Patrolman Rebecca Hulstine and Patrolman Hyung Kim.
The family was concerned that Rico was in danger, based on a text message he had sent to them. As a result, the family signed off on a document saying that Rico was “at risk,” Laudenslager said.
The document is one way police can start looking for a missing person immediately, instead of having to wait a certain amount of time for a person to be officially declared a missing person. Police can also start searching immediately if on their own police suspect foul play is involved, Laudenslager noted.
Laudenslager had Hulstine enter into a national data base information about Rico being missing and at risk. The information reaches all kinds of police departments, including those who patrol parks.
“We also put out a be-on-the-lookout for (BOLO) message that went out from 50 to 99 miles to all other police departments” throughout the region, Laudenslager said.
The document signed by Rico’s family that he was at risk also enabled police to get Rico’s cellphone carrier to assist in locating him through his cellphone, without having to obtain a warrant.
Police through this method traced Rico’s last known whereabouts through his cellphone to an area of Interstate 83 near Bass Pro Shops in the Harrisburg Mall.
However, police could not pinpoint Rico’s exact location because the “ping” from his phone covered a range of about 1,000 meters, Laudenslager said.
After making numerous phone calls and seemingly exhausting their efforts, police after regrouping Saturday decided to put out a Nixle alert regarding Rico.
Each Nixle alert gets sent automatically to the devices of all borough residents who have signed up for Nixle, which has been the borough’s emergency notification system since 2013. Signing up for Nixle is free, and as of last fall about 1,200 of the borough’s roughly 8,900 residents had signed up for the service. Nixle alerts also usually get picked up and spread by the Press And Journal and other media.
Police did not reveal the name of the medical center nurse who called borough police about Rico in response to the Nixle alert. Laudenslager said he didn’t know if the woman got the alert on her own phone, or learned of it through someone else. He’s just glad she called.
“The whole time we were looking for him he was at Hershey Med, so in that case the Nixle alert helped well,” Laudenslager said.
Rico was missing for about 24 hours, even though it turns out he was at the medical center. However, neither his family nor borough police had any way of knowing that at the time. Police say they do not know why Rico did not reach out to his family after he was taken to the medical center. Rico is not being charged with anything, Laudenslager said.
Interim Police Chief George Mouchette said that Laudenslager was “on the phone with me consulting with me constantly through the night” regarding the Rico case.
Mouchette ended up coming into the station to offer Laudenslager support, but the 17-year veteran had the situation under control, the chief said.
“Thank God this person was found and the officer was able to notify his family that he was safe and sound,” the chief said.
Last Updated on Wednesday, 01 February 2017 12:44
Written by Dan Miller
Diane Fabian’s gambling addiction was so all-encompassing that even a car accident couldn’t stop her from heading to the casino.
She told those assembled in Dauphin County Common Pleas Court during her sentencing hearing on Thursday a story from years ago, when she was broadsided in her car in a serious accident. All she could think about was how she would get to the casino that night. She called her son and rented a car so she could go to the casino.
That addiction caused her to steal from her employer.
Fabian, 66, of Middletown, will spend 11 1/2 to 23 months in Dauphin County Prison and was ordered to pay $535,179.77 in restitution for embezzling money while she worked at a Lower Paxton Township insurance agency from 2008 to 2015. She could have started before 2008, but the bank records only went back to 2008 so that is all that investigators could document.
She obtained money by creating refund checks that were to be paid to clients of the insurance agency where she worked, according to court records that were filed by Lower Paxton Township police, who arrested Fabian in March. Fabian forged signatures of the insurance agency clients on bogus refund checks. She then deposited the proceeds from each fake check that was paid by the agency into her own personal bank account.
Judge John Cherry ruled that she will be immediately work-release eligible, and her sentence will be followed by 20 years of probation.
She pleaded guilty in October to embezzling $529,000 over seven years to support her addiction to gambling — 76 counts for which she had been charged with theft by deception, theft by failure to make required disposition of funds, and forgery. Each of the 76 counts carried a maximum of up to seven years in prison — a total of 532 years.
Fabian had no previous criminal record.
She has until Feb. 9 to report to Dauphin County Prison.
Cherry ordered that Fabian pay $470,156.43 in restitution to the former Woolf-Strite Insurance Agency in Lower Paxton Township, for whom Fabian was employed for most of her 40 years in the workplace. She continued with the agency when it was sold in 2011 to Don Jacobs.
Cherry also ordered that $65,023.34 in restitution be paid by Fabian to the Don Jacobs agency.
Fabian told the court that at present her only income is from cleaning houses and from Social Security.
“I’ve hurt a lot of people”
Fabian read a statement to the court, much of it while weeping. She apologized to the victims and the court. She said, in part:
• “I know that I’ve hurt a lot of people and they have said terrible things about me.”
• “I did not realize how sick I was and how the gambling had taken over.”
• “I live in a prison in my heart and mind and will for the rest of my life.”
She discussed how the casinos sent her emails and paid for her to take trips to Las Vegas and Atlantic City where she lost money gambling. She lost all the money on slots, she said; that’s all she ever played. She also gambled at Hollywood Casino at Penn National Race Course.
About half a dozen character witnesses were called by Corky Goldstein, her defense attorney.
Cherry said he was “impressed” with one sentence from Fabian’s statement, where she said “‘Even though they tell me it’s an illness, I did it.’ It told me something about her mindset.”
Cherry called the sentence “difficult.”
“It’s not the common criminal or thug. That’s easy. It’s somebody who but — for this — is a good decent human being.”
He said he was torn between the character witnesses and the testimony from the insurance agencies that said she should go to jail.
Before pronouncing the sentence Cherry read a letter from Nancy Strite, Fabian’s sister and the wife of Eugene Strite, who was co-owner of the Woolf Strite Insurance Agency in Lower Paxton Township for whom Fabian worked and from whom she embezzled. Eugene Strite died from cancer in December 2016.
“As much as I hate the thought of a 66-year-old woman going to prison, that is what I think should happen,” Nancy Strite wrote. Besides using the money to support her gambling, Fabian was a “shopaholic” who took lavish vacations and threw expensive parties, Strite contended in her letter.
“Everybody always wondered how she did it. Unfortunately it was at our expense,” Strite wrote in the letter read by Cherry.
Jacobs told the court that his agency to date has spent more than $100,000 investigating what Fabian did, and “we’re still spending money today” to clean up the mess.
Cherry expressed concern that without incarceration Fabian might not feel compelled to continue her treatment.
“Punishment is part of it so that she and others like her won’t do it again — also so she continues to be rehabilitated,” he said.
Deputy District Attorney David Wilson called for incarceration, noting: “Addicts are still accountable.”
He said Fabian “was self-aware enough” to go from one type of scheme to another to keep the embezzlement going over the years.
Goldstein asked for house arrest, or if she were sentenced to do time that it be in Dauphin County Prison with work release. He said Fabian has cooperated from the start and initially thought she had only taken $40,000.
“She lost her way,” he said, claiming that all the money she took went into her gambling.
Last Updated on Wednesday, 01 February 2017 12:37
Written by Jason Maddux
Flat tires lead to charges
A Georgia resident who allegedly drove his car throughout Highspire with two flat tires was arrested and subsequently charged with DUI.
Police report John Hayes, 63, of Cumming, Georgia, was arrested on Jan. 2 and charged after police found his 2017 Ford Fusion parked in the parking lot of a McDonald’s restaurant on West Harrisburg Pike. Both front tires on his 2017 Ford Fusion were flat and apparently the car had been driven that way for some distance. Police were told to be on the lookout for a car that was being driven by someone under the influence of intoxicants.
Hayes reportedly had an odor of an intoxicating beverage on his breath and was given field coordination tests. Hayes was taken to the Dauphin County Judicial Center, where he refused to provide a blood sample to determine the possible presence of intoxicants. Police charged Hayes and released him after he posted bail.
He is to be present for a preliminary hearing on the charge Jan. 18 before District Judge Michael Smith.
Radiators, batteries stolen
Police report three aluminum truck radiators and 20 to 30 car and truck batteries were stolen from Peifer Construction Inc., in the 1000 block of Eisenhower Boulevard, on Jan. 3.
The items were valued at $600. The items were to have been scrapped.
Investigators said they are reviewing surveillance videos. A male suspect was caught on video. Police said he was wearing a dark hooded jacket, tan pants and dark shoes or boots.
If you have information, call 717-939-0463.
Last Updated on Tuesday, 17 January 2017 15:56
Written by Dan Miller
Five candidates are in the race for Dauphin County judge, including one very familiar name.
Voters in 2017 will elect three new county judges. One will replace Judge Bruce Bratton, who resigned in August 2016. The two others are to replace Judge Bernard Coates Jr., who died in 2015, and to replace Judge Todd Hoover, who stepped down from the county bench in May 2016 and who died in August 2016. Each term is for 10 years.
Dauphin County District Attorney Ed Marsico announced his intent to run earlier this month. He has been district attorney since being elected in November 1999. He first joined the district attorney’s office in 1988. He supervises a staff of 25 attorneys, 30 support staff and 13 detectives. As an assistant district attorney, he handled many homicide and drug prosecutions. His trial experience includes about 100 jury trials and numerous appearances in non-jury proceedings.
Also running is another member of the district attorney’s office. Michael Rozman of Steelton is a prosecutor and has worked in a supervisor capacity since 1994. He served as Steelton Borough Council president in the 1990s. Before becoming a lawyer, Rozman worked in the family business, the Rozman Bros. furniture and appliance store in Swatara Township.
Lori K. Serratelli of Susquehanna Township is a Dauphin County judge who is running for retention. Gov. Tom Wolf appointed her to the bench in June 2016 to fill the vacancy that was created by the death of Coates.
Serratelli before becoming a county judge had 38 years of private law practice and specialized in the areas of family law, civil litigation, and employment discrimination. She serves in the Family Law Division of the county court of common pleas.
Royce Morris, an attorney who lives in Swatara Township, also announced his candidacy. A partner in the firm of Goldberg Katzman in Lower Paxton Township, Morris has practiced law for more than 25 years in state and federal courts and has represented clients in more than 200 trials.
Morris was appointed by the Pennsylvania Bar Association to a committee tasked with making recommendations on revisions to the Code of Judicial Conduct. He was appointed by former Gov. Tom Corbett to the state Commission on Sentencing from 2011 to 2015.
The fifth candidate is Jeffrey McGuire of Harrisburg, a partner in the firm of Cipriani & Werner. Since 2005 McGuire has been certified as a civil trial advocate by the National Board of Trial Advocacy,.
A certified mediator and arbitrator, McGuire serves in both capacities for private parties as well as through the Better Business Bureau and the Pro Bono Mediation Panel of the U.S. Middle District Court. He is a former senior hearing committee member for the Disciplinary Committee of the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania.
Last Updated on Tuesday, 17 January 2017 16:04
Written by Dan Miller
A man who was arrested in July 2016 for molesting girls at the Middletown Swimming Pool is again in trouble with borough police.
Police arrested Clayton Thomas Johnson, 41, of the 200 block of South Union Street, on Dec. 28; this time for allegedly masturbating outside a laundromat near Wood Street and Witherspoon Avenue just before 8 p.m. on Tuesday, Dec. 27.
Johnson was arraigned before District Judge David Judy and charged with open lewdness, disorderly conduct, and failing to register as a registered sex offender. He remains in Dauphin County Prison on $10,000 bail, and a hearing before Judy is set for Jan. 26.
Johnson has also been charged with indecent exposure and open lewdness by the Dauphin County District Attorney's Office for an incident that allegedly occurred on Dec. 28. Johnson was arraigned on the county charges by District Judge Kenneth Lenker, who set bail at $50,000. A preliminary hearing on these charges is set for Jan. 5 before District Judge Michael Smith.
Johnson on Dec. 22 had been sentenced to 11 months of probation by Dauphin County Judge John Cherry after pleading guilty to indecent exposure stemming from the July 2016 incident at the borough pool.
Johnson had just gotten out of the county prison on Dec. 23, according to the criminal complaint that borough police filed regarding the Dec. 27 charges.
Johnson in 2005 was convicted of third-degree rape in New York State, according to an investigation completed by Pennsylvania State Police when Johnson was charged with the incident in the borough in 2016.
Last Updated on Wednesday, 04 January 2017 13:24