Avoca Police Department


Published October 17, 2011

Avoca police arrest two people on drug delivery charges

AVOCA - Police arrested two people on charges they delivered a controlled substance in a park.

Jeremy Joseph Elston, 19, of Grove Street, Avoca, and Rebecca Lee Brojakowski, 26, of Main Street, Avoca, were charged with 26 counts of possession with intent to deliver a controlled substance.

Elston was further charged with 13 counts of a controlled substance and Brojakowski was charged with a single count of endangering the welfare of a child. They were arraigned by District Judge Diana Malast in Plains Township.

Elston was released Friday after posting $5,000 bail and Brojakowski was jailed at the Luzerne County Correctional Facility for lack of $5,000 bail.

Police allege Brojakowski arranged to sell 13 tablets of vicodin that Elston delivered at West Avoca Park on Commerce Street on June 14, according to the criminal complaints.

Brojakowski was caring for a child at the time of the alleged deal.

Preliminary hearings are scheduled Wednesday before District Judge Fred Pierantoni III in Pittston.

Published April 30, 2011

A West Pittston man faces a slew of drug charges after police say he dealt prescription drugs and narcotics from his Delaware Avenue home in December and February.

Investigators caught Jorge Santiago, 47, selling marijuana, methadone and oxycodone pills from the 536 Delaware Ave. residence on Dec. 23 and Feb. 15, police said.

Santiago was arrested Thursday and charged with numerous counts of delivery and possession of a controlled substance and criminal use of a communication facility.

Avoca and West Pittston police, as well as the Luzerne County Drug Task Force, conducted the investigation.

Santiago was arraigned in front of Magisterial District Justice Joseph Carmody. As of Friday evening, Santiago remained in the Luzerne County Correctional Facility in lieu of $20,000 bail.

Published: February 20, 2011

AVOCA - After breaking into a pharmacy in Old Forge and stealing the wrong medication, two men plotted to burglarize another drug store last month before calling it off, police said.

Michael Sokolowsky, 23, of Lambert Street, Pittston, and Ronald Fitser, 25, of Wyoming Avenue, Forty Fort, were captured on surveillance videos from both businesses, police said.

Sokolowsky and Fitser, who are free on bail, face charges of attempted burglary, conspiracy, loitering and prowling at night in connection with the attempted break-in of Llewellyn's Drug Store on Main Street, Avoca, on Jan. 16.

Sokolowsky also faces charges of making false statements to law enforcement and hindering apprehension. In addition, Fitser faces charges of possession of instruments of crime and fleeing and eluding police.

Charges are pending in the burglary of Capitano's Pharmacy, Main Street, Old Forge, police said.

The video showed two men using a large rock to smash a window to gain entry to Capitano's on Jan. 15, police said. Inside, the men put a large amount of pills into a black backpack, police said. The same men were seen in a video from Llewellyn's taken around 1 a.m. Jan. 16, police said.

According to an affidavit of probable cause:

An officer on patrol around 1:35 a.m. saw two men walking in the area of Main and Cherry streets in Avoca. One of the men appeared to be carrying a bookbag under his coat while the other man was wearing something around his face. The two got into a white Mercedes Benz, but drove off when the officer tried to stop the car.

The officer pursued the car and stopped it in Pittston. During a search allowed by the car's owner, police found a black backpack containing a knife, a large rock and shards of glass, and a black ski mask.

Sokolowsky and Fitser were taken into custody and interviewed at police headquarters. They provided different stories about what they were doing on Main Street that morning, the affidavit said.

Police learned of the break-in at Capitano's and viewed the surveillance video of it. The men in the video were wearing the same clothes as the men in the video from Llewellyn's and matched those worn by Sokolowsky and Fitser when they were taken into custody.

Sokolowsky was interviewed by police in the presence of his lawyer on Jan. 28 and admitted to the break-in at Capitano's, the affidavit said. He said Fitser broke a window with a rock and entered the pharmacy while wearing his backpack on his chest. The two men took bottles of medication, but when they realized it was not pain medication they hid it in a wooded area near Coxton Road in Duryea.

Fitser wanted to burglarize another pharmacy and said he would give Sokolowsky half of the medication for acting as a lookout, the affidavit said. They went to Llewellyn's because Fitser said it had "hardcore opiates." Sokolowsky agreed to go along, but after parking the car and approaching the drug store, he backed out.

Fitser picked up a rock to smash a window, put it in his backpack and told Sokolowsky that he didn't have to go into the drug store. A police car passed by and the two men got into their car. Sokolowsky provided Fitser with directions to try to get away from police, the affidavit said.

WILKES-BARRE -- An Avoca man who pleaded guilty to sexually assaulting a young girl over a six-year period was sentenced Friday to two and half to six years in state prison.

Michael Polovnuk, 46, of Lampman Street, was sentenced on two counts of aggravated indecent assault by Luzerne County Judge Thomas Burke, as well as a related count of fleeing/eluding police from last year.

He received 207 days credit for time already served. Polovnuk must register his address under Megan's Law for his entire life and have no unsupervised contact with minors, places children frequent or the victim in the case.

Polovnuk, who was deemed a sexually violent predator, pleaded guilty to the charges in February 2010. According to court records, in August 2009, police said they were contacted by the grandmother of the girl that she was concerned for her granddaughter's well being. The girl said that Polovnuk would tell her she was "sexy" and would sexually assault her, beginning when she was about 6-years-old and ending when she was around 14.

Published: February 3, 2011

AVOCA -- Police said they are searching for Ryan Healy, 31, of Hanover Township, on charges he burglarized a house and garage in the 700 block of Main Street in December.

Police said firearms, electronics, jewelry, money and a check book were stolen from the residence. Several checks from the check book were cashed at area electronic stores, including a store where Healy used his identification, police said.

Healy is facing charges of burglary, criminal trespass, theft, and illegal possession of a firearm. The charges were filed Monday with District Judge Fred Pierantoni in Pittston.

Published: November 13, 2010

AVOCA - Borough police said they filed charges against a group of juvenile and adult males stemming from the shooting out of windows on several vehicles on Oct. 25.

Police said Charles Marchise, 19, of Bear Creek, Michael Robinson, 19, of Avoca and three juvenile males were involved in the incidents and charged with criminal mischief, criminal conspiracy, receiving stolen property, possession of instruments of crime, propelling missiles from a motor vehicle, tampering with evidence and disorderly conduct.

Police said the group shot out several windows of parked cars in Avoca borough as well as throughout the Pittston area with a stolen Air Soft CO2 pistol.

AVOCA - Ryan Altmann, 29, of Duryea and Laura Destefano, 31, of Exeter were arrested by Avoca police Wednesday. Altmann was seen speeding in the 100 block of Main Street and officers noted that packages of meat from Schiel's Market were inside the car.

Avoca police called Wilkes-Barre police and learned that Altmann and Destefano had allegedly stolen meat and groceries from the grocery store before fleeing in Altmann's vehicle. Police also located over $1,000 worth of clothing that was stolen from Kohls Department Store as well as suspected drug paraphernalia. Both were lodged in the Luzerne County Prison.

Published: August 27, 2010

Clarks Summit man allegedly led police on car chase in Avoca

AVOCA - A Clarks Summit man has been charged with fleeing police and reckless endangerment after a high-speed chase through Avoca last weekend.

Robert Ellis, 31, was wanted by Lackawanna County authorities for absconding from work release in 2008 and for additional warrants, Avoca police said. Mr. Ellis was allegedly driving recklessly and running other vehicles off Main Street at 1 a.m. Saturday. He led officers on a chase down Grove Street, where Mr. Ellis crashed his car into trees and ran, police said. He was later caught in Taylor and charged on Wednesday. He was held at Lackawanna County Prison in lieu of $30,000 bail

August 03, 2010

AVOCA - Police arrested a man in the yard of a home he allegedly burglarized early Wednesday morning.

Police arrested Brad Lapsansky, 29, of 119 New St., Avoca, on two counts each of burglary and criminal trespass charges and one count of theft by unlawful taking.

Police said they responded to a call from the owner of 700 Greeley St., a detached trailer, who reported shortly after midnight Wednesday that she believed someone was inside her home. Upon arrival, Officer James Halford said he heard what sounded like the residence's rear door slamming shut. Halford said he found Lapsansky standing in the backyard of the residence, wearing a baseball cap the homeowner said was taken from inside her home.

The homeowner also reported that a DVD player and jewelry were missing from the home.

Police said Lapsansky stated he is homeless and had been staying in the trailer at night while the homeowner was not home.

Lapsansky was arraigned overnight and is being held at Luzerne County Correctional Facility for lack of $20,000 straight bail.

June 29, 2010

Alleged Street-Level Drug Dealers Arrested

Nineteen of 26 suspected dealers captured in coordinated sweep Monday by numerous law enforcement agencies.

Drug charges were filed against 26 people Monday, and law enforcement authorities hit the streets early in the morning attempting to arrest the suspected street-level drug dealers.

Authorities captured 19 people, including one person already admitted in an in-patient rehabilitation facility. Four more suspects are already in state prison on unrelated charges. Three suspects remain at-large with one remaining unidentified, officials said.

Avoca Police Chief Dave Homschek said the investigation began 20 months ago and centered on dealers distributing heroin, cocaine, marijuana, prescription narcotics and ecstasy.

"The investigation started with one suspect, then eventually grew to those we filed charges on today," Homschek said.

Homschek said the state Office of Attorney General's Bureau of Narcotics Investigation and Drug Control and officers with the Luzerne County Drug Task Force assisted in the investigation by making controlled drug buys at locations in the greater Avoca area.

One suspect, Richard Arnsperger, 28, of Harriet Street, Plains Township, allegedly sold marijuana and cocaine with his child, arrest records say.

The drug sweep began around 6 a.m. in a coordinated effort by Avoca police, county detectives and sheriff's department, Attorney General's Office, and police in Kingston, Exeter, Hanover, Wyoming and Dallas. Those captured were fingerprinted and photographed at the Kingston Police Department and taken to be arraigned before District Judge Fred Pierantoni in Pittston.

Warden Joe Piazza said the county prison would be able to house those jailed. Bail was set for all at $25,000 each.

"It was a great cooperative effort this morning," Homschek said. The investigation, called Operation Street Sweeper, centered on low-level dealers who were operating throughout Luzerne County, said John Soprano, regional director for the state attorney general.

Homschek said most of those charged resided at one time in Avoca, and eventually moved to other parts of the county. "Today's arrests are part of an ongoing effort to target local, street-level drug dealers, drug suppliers and users, who are bringing heroin, cocaine, prescription drugs and other narcotics to the streets of Luzerne County," state Attorney General Tom Corbett stated in a news release. "Street-level sweeps, such as this, take local dealers and users off the street and eventually lead to arrests of upper-level suppliers and complex drug organizations." Agents believe the suspects had no ties to one another, and despite being aware of each other's activities operated individually, the news release said.

At-large suspects include: Joaquin "Jack" Rodrigues Jr., 63, of Scranton, who is in Florida; the whereabouts of Corey "Little Corey" Camasso, 24, of White Haven, are unknown, police said.

Police said Cindy "Blue Eyes" Conden, 24, last known address as Main Street, Plymouth, is admitted at an in-patient drug-and-alcohol facility.

March 30, 2010

AVOCA - Police arrested Edward Sitnick, 43, of Dupont, following a pursuit early Sunday morning. Police said they observed Sitnick's station wagon run a red light at the intersection of Main And McAlpine streets at approximately 2 a.m. on Sunday. Officers attempted to stop Sitnick, who then began traveling at a high rate of speed. Sitnick abandoned the vehicle near Everhart Street and fled on foot to a home on Penn Avenue in Dupont where police took him into custody. Police said the inspection sticker on Sitnick's vehicle was fraudulent, and charged him with fleeing and eluding police, altering documents and plates, driving with a suspended license, and several traffic offenses.

September 05, 2009

Man Arrested on Felony Drugs Violations

AVOCA - Jack Dyak, 44, of Pittston, was arrested Saturday morning on several drug charges after drugs and a large amount of cash were discovered on Dyak during a traffic stop in the 500 block of Main Street in Avoca, police said.

Dyak was charged with possession with intent to deliver a controlled substance, possession of a controlled substance, possession of drug paraphernalia and misbranding a controlled substance.

Avoca police officer Matthew Fredmonski noticed drug paraphernalia on the floor of Dyak's vehicle after pulling him over, police said.

Fredmonski then began to search Dyak and found four baggies of a substance, believed to be cocaine and a prescription medication package and more than $700 in cash held together with a rubber band, police said. Several plastic baggies and a large bag of rubber bands were found when Dyak's car was searched.

After being arraigned by District Judge Joseph Zola of Hazleton Dyak was transported to the county prison. His bail was set at $10,000.

September 2, 2009

Motorist charged with DUI following high-speed pursuit

AVOCA - Police arrested a man Sunday evening for suspicion of driving under the influence after he traveled through a stop sign and led police on a high-speed pursuit, police said.

Carlos Gramajo, 26, of Scranton, is charged with DUI, driving with a suspended license, tampering with documents and other traffic violations. According to police, police Chief David Homschek tried to stop the vehicle on William Street.

Gramajo sped through several stop signs and turned onto McAlpine Street to try to avoid detection. Gramajo drove through a ditch and then crashed into a curb, police said. Police said he was wanted by U.S. immigration officials.

September 1, 2009

AVOCA - Police arrested Michael Polovnuk, of Lampman Street, Avoca, in the alleged sexual assault of a minor between 2000 and 2006, police said.

Polovnuk, 45, was charged with several counts of aggravated indecent assault, indecent assault, corruption of minors and endangering the welfare of children, police said. He was arraigned before District Judge Fred Pierantoni, lodged at the Luzerne County Correction Facility and released on $50,000 bail.

His preliminary hearing is scheduled for Sept. 2 at 1 p.m. before Pierantoni.

AVOCA - Keith Martin, 32, of Clarks Summit, was arrested on evidence of drunk driving after a crash at the intersection of Main and McAlpine streets on Sunday morning, police said.

Police said they were alerted to be on the lookout for an intoxicated driver heading north in a blue Chevrolet when officer Michael Rosemellia began to travel Main Street and saw a blue Chevrolet that Martin was driving strike a utility pole and several signs, police said.

Robbery Suspects Sought

Police in Avoca are investigating a robbery where suspects hit a female, stole money and clothing and threatened to steal her car.

According to the victim, she was in her car, exiting Interstate 81 and was stopped at a stop sign on William Street when she was stopped by two men who ran out of a wooded area along the street.

One of the men hit her in the face through her open window and demanded money. She gave them an unidentified amount, at which point the men demanded more money. They attempted to take the victim's vehicle, and also took a bag of clothing from the vehicle, police said.

The suspects ran into the woods when another vehicle exited I-81 and drove toward the intersection. The suspects are described as a tall, thin male wearing a black T-shirt and a tall, thin blacm male wearing a red bandana and a white T-shirt.

Anyone with information is asked to call the Avoca Police Department at 570-457-4011.

March 14

AVOCA - Douglas Stickler, 28, and Jessica Falvo, 26, both homeless, were arrested on outstanding warrants issued by Avoca police on Friday.

Police believe the pair have been involved in more than 1,000 vehicle break-ins since January in Luzerne and Lackawanna counties.

Members of the U.S. Marshal's Service, Luzerne County Sheriff's Office, state police at Shickshinny and Pennsylvania State Parole apprehended the pair inside of a home on Canal Street in Shickshinny.

The two were sought after allegedly fleeing from a stolen vehicle on Main Street in Avoca following a traffic stop on Thursday, police said.

Stickler and Falvo are accused of breaking into vehicles in Duryea earlier this week and used a credit card that was stolen from one of the vehicles at several area businesses, according to police. Police were able to identify the suspects by video surveillance.

The duo were both charged with two counts each of receiving stolen property, criminal conspiracy, flight to avoid apprehension, possession of instruments of crime and prohibited offensive weapons, police said.

They are also facing charges of forgery, theft and access device fraud by Duryea police and receiving stolen property and drug offenses by the sheriff's department.

March 5, 2009 - Drug Arrest

AVOCA - Police arrested 19-year-old German Pellot Sosa of Scranton on drug possession charges during a traffic stop on Hawthorne Street on Wednesday morning.

Sosa, who was a passenger in the vehicle, was charged with possession with intent to deliver a controlled substance, possession of a controlled substance and possession of drug paraphernalia, according to Avoca police.

He was jailed for lack of producing $25,000 straight bail, police said.

Police located 19 bags of suspected marijuana packaged to distribute under the passenger seat in which Sosa was sitting, police said.

February 28, 2009
Cops: Woman drove over person

AVOCA - A woman was arrested at her home Friday night on charges she struck a woman with her SUV and then drove over her body in a bar parking lot.

Michelle A. Murphy, 42, of Old Forge, was charged with aggravated assault, simple assault, recklessly endangering another person, careless driving, accidents involving personal injury and duty to render aid, according to court records.

Police allege Murphy backed over 42-year-old Kelly Boyko of Pittston with her Ford Explorer and then dragged her body in the parking lot of Litzy's Bar on York Avenue just after midnight on Feb. 16.

Murphy observed Boyko lying on the ground in a pool of blood, but still drove off, according to Avoca police Chief David Homschek.

As she was leaving, police said Boyko's sister, Amy Calabro, was pulling into the tavern's lot. Boyko, who was unresponsive, was taken to Geisinger Wyoming Valley Medical Center in Plains Township, police said.

Boyko, who had to have reconstructive surgery, was recently released from the hospital after having extensive plastic surgery to her face and right ankle, Homschek said. Murphy, Boyko and a male acquaintance went to the bar together that night, but ended up arguing, according to the criminal complaint. Thinking the other two had left, Boyko called her sister to pick her up.

As Boyko waited for her sister outside of the bar she noticed Murphy and the male were in the Explorer, Homschek said.

Boyko walked up to the vehicle and a scuffle occurred between Boyko and the male, he said.

Murphy was arraigned before District Judge Fred Pierantoni in Pittston and taken to Luzerne County Correctional Facility instead of $20,000 straight bail.

A preliminary hearing date was not immediately known.

November 25, 2008
Man is charged in rape of teen girl

Vincent J. Orleski Jr. of Avoca allegedly raped a 13-year-old for over a year.

A man convicted six years ago for sexually assaulting an intoxicated teen girl was arrested by authorities on Monday for allegedly raping a child for more than a year.

Vincent J. Orleski Jr., accused in the rape of a child, is escorted by law enforcement officers on Monday.

Vincent J. Orleski Jr., 34, of Lehigh Street, Avoca, kept his head down as District Judge Fred Pierantoni read the list of 13 felony and four misdemeanor charges against him during an arraignment in Pittston.

Avoca police Chief David Homschek and Luzerne County Lt. Detective Deborah Parker accused Orleski of raping a 13-year-old girl from May 2007 to May 2008, according to the criminal complaint.

Orleski was jailed at the county correctional facility for lack of $500,000 bail. He declined comment about the allegations after his arraignment before Pierantoni.

According to the criminal complaint:
The girl told a friend during a school dance that Orleski had raped her. Other friends who heard about the allegations informed a school guidance counselor, who, in turn, contacted a child caseworker in October.

The caseworker reported the allegations to Avoca police on Oct. 16, the criminal complaint says. Investigators and a child trauma pediatrician questioned the girl on Oct. 29. During the interview, the girl claimed Orleski molested her for the first time in May 2007, and raped her several times a week from the summer of 2007 to May 2008, according to the criminal complaint.

At a school dance, the criminal complaint says, she told a friend because she could "no longer keep everything bottled up inside."

Orleski was charged with five counts of aggravated indecent assault, three counts each of involuntary deviate sexual assault and indecent assault, and one count each of rape of a child, rape, statutory sexual assault, endangering the welfare of children, corruption of minors and furnishing alcohol to minors.

A preliminary hearing is tentatively scheduled for Dec. 3 in Central Court.

Orleski was sentenced by a Luzerne County judge in November 2002 to six to 12 months in the county correctional facility on charges he sexually assaulted an intoxicated teen girl, according to court records.

In that case, according to arrest records, a then 15-year-old girl claimed Orleski picked her and her friend up in Jenkins Township and drove them to his Avoca residence, where he supplied them with alcoholic beverages in August 2001.

After her friend fell asleep, the girl told police, Orleski took her to a bedroom where they had sexual relations, arrest records say.

Orleski was also sentenced to six months probation in November 2002 for furnishing alcohol to a teen girl at his residence in July 2001, according to court records.

April 29, 2008
Burglary Bust in Luzerne County

Five people are in custody in connection with a burglary ring in Luzerne County. All five of the suspects are between the ages of 19 and 24.

Police say Ronald Gieski of Avoca was the ring-leader of the burglary ring busted Tuesday afternoon. The 22-year-old faces charges of breaking into at least three homes over the last two months.

"We're very happy of the fact that we have these individuals off the street in a very short time," Sergeant Nick Lohman of the Duryea Police Department said.

Investigators say Gieski broke into one home in Avoca and two in Duryea. He stole electronics, computers and credit cards.

"We have some information that drugs have been related but that hasn't been confirmed at this time" Chief David Homschek of the Avoca Police Department said.

Besides Gieski, 19-year-old Justin Thompson, 24-year-old Nicole Howe of Moosic, 20-year-old Brandon Rowlands and 19-year-old David Kelly of Scranton were also taken into custody. Investigators say they all knew of the ring and/or benefited from the burglaries. They were caught after the stolen credit cards were used.

"It just goes to show that crime is not just one level, one age group. It starts low, young and carries on," Sergeant Lohman said.

In one case, police say the Gieski was so brazen, he broke into the home of a deadly fire victim in Duryea to seal copper piping.

"It's a good feeling knowing that these people are apprehended. We closed some of these cases out and they're going to be off the street," Chief Homschek said.

Investigators are also looking into whether other homes may have been hit.

"We are looking into other prior burglaries and some thefts that may be linked to these individuals, one or more of them," Sergeant Lohman said.

The charges against all of the suspects range from theft to criminal conspiracy.


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