Man hurt in house ﬁre
A man suffered minor burns to hishands as he escaped from his home, which was destroyed by ﬁre Tuesday af-ternoon.Fireﬁghters responded to 309 Thorn-hill Road for a structure ﬁre at about12:40p.m.andfoundtheablazeconsum-ingthedouble-widetrailerofJamiePiatttobefullyinvolved,saidMocanaquaFireChief Stephen McDaniels, the ﬁrst chief on the scene.McDaniels said Piatt declined treat-mentatthescene.Hesaidthetrailerwasa total loss. A state police ﬁre marshal isinvestigating the cause and origin.
Teacher Nicholas honored
Leslie Nicholas, a language artsteacher at Wyoming Valley West MiddleSchool who was recently named thecountry’s top educator, was honored Tuesday by state Rep. PhyllisMundy and state Sens.Lisa Baker and JohnYudichak. Nicholas,known as “Mr. Nick” tohis students, receivedcitations from bothchambers recognizing his accomplishment.Nicholas, a fourth-generation educa-tor, started his career in 1981 teaching journalism to WVW High School stu-dents. The National Education Associationselected him as one of ﬁve ﬁnalists forthe NEA Member Beneﬁts Award for Teaching Excellence. Nicholas was se-lectedfortheawardafterhegaveamocklesson in New York City and was inter- viewed by members of the NEA.
Aggressive drivers targeted
The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation has announced that partof its statewide investment of federalfunds will help municipal and state po-lice to crack down on aggressive driving behaviors such as speeding, tailgating and running red lights.An enforcement wave targeting dis-tracted or drowsy drivers, as well asspeeding and work zone violations, be-gan Monday and will continue throughApril 28. Participating law enforcementagencies will carry out a special enforce-ment effort in Northeastern Pennsylva-nia on Friday.Participating agencies in LuzerneCounty include police departments inthe townships of Dallas, Fairview, Kings-ton, Plains and Wilkes-Barre, the bor-oughs of Forty Fort and Laﬂin, and thecities of Hazleton and Wilkes-Barre, as well as state police.
Barletta sets ofﬁce hours
U.S. Rep. Lou Barletta, R-Hazleton,has announced his district ofﬁces’ regu-lar constituent outreach hours.During these times, congressionalstaff will be available to handle issuesresidents may have with federal agen-cies, including, but notlimited to, Social Secu-rityproblems,VeteransAffairs issues or pass-port requests. The locations,dates and times inand around LuzwerneCounty are as follows:Berwick — stateRep. David Millard’s ofﬁce, 904B OrangeSt.,2to4p.m.onthesecondWednesday of every month.Salem Township — Township Mu-nicipal Building, 38 Bomboy Lane, 2 to4 p.m. on the fourth Wednesday of every month.Hanover Township — Township Mu-nicipal Building, 1267 San Souci Park- way, 10 a.m. to noon on the ﬁrst andthird Wednesdays of every month.Hunlock Creek — state Rep. KarenBoback’s Sweet Valley Ofﬁce, 5929 MainRoad (Off Rt. 118), 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.on the second Monday of every month.Nanticoke — City Hall, 15 E. RidgeSt., 2 to 4 p.m. on the ﬁrst and third Wednesdays of every month.Shickshinny — The Borough Build-ing, 35 W. Union St., 10 a.m. to noon onthe second and fourth Wednesdays of every month. Tunkhannock — state Rep. Karen Bo-back’s Tunkhannock ofﬁce, 608 HunterHighway,Suite110,1:30to4p.m.onthesecond Monday of every month. Tunkhannock — Wyoming County Courthouse, 1 Courthouse Square, 1 to3:30 p.m. every Friday.
SCRANTON — A man arrestedby Kingston police on drug andﬁrearm offenses earlier this month whencrackcocaineandgunsalleg-edly were found inside his SouthGates Avenue apartment has beenindicted by a federal grand jury,according to the U.S. Attorney’sOfﬁce.Jovon Martin, 31, was one of three people indicted in the strawpurchases of guns used in cocainesales.U.S.AttorneyPeterJ.Smithsaida straw purchase occurs when a personwhoisprohibitedfrombuy-ingorowningagunduetoacrimi-nal record has someone withouta criminal record purchase gunsfrom a federally licensed dealer.Martin was indicted along withChristine Hanahan, 30, of Kings-ton, and John Teslicko, 50, of Larksville. The indictments wereunsealed Monday.Hanahan and Teslicko surren-dered at the Kingston Police De-partment and were transferred tofederal authorities in Scranton.Martin was charged with con-spiracy to make false statementsin connection with the purchase of a ﬁrearm, prohibited possession of a ﬁrearm, possession of a machinegun in furtherance of drug distri-bution, possession of an illegal weapon, possession of an unregis-tered weapon and possession withintent to deliver cocaine.Hanahan was charged with un-lawful transfer of a ﬁrearm to a prohibited processor. Teslicko was charged with con-spiracy to make false statementsin connection with the purchaseof a ﬁrearm, false statements inconnection with the purchase of a ﬁrearm, unlawful transfer of a ﬁre-arm to a prohibited possessor andprohibited possession of a ﬁrearm.Kingston police said they founda m-11 9mm machine gun and a .40-caliber handgun in two safes— along with loaded magazines,nearly $6,000, and crack cocaineand marijuana — inside the apart-ment. Teslicko purchased a .40-caliberpistolfromagundealerinHanover Township, where he provided falseinformation as to the actual pur-chaser, and Hanahan transferred a .40-caliber pistol to Martin know-ing he was going to use the gun indrug sales, according to the indict-ments.Hanahan and Teslicko were re-leased, while Martin remains incustody pending a detention hear-ing on Thursday.
TIMES LEADER www.timesleader.comTUESDAY, MARCH 20, 2013
2011 tax refunds closer to fruition
Berkheimer & Associatesexpects within a few weeks tobegin sending out 2011 earnedincome tax refunds to taxpay-ers who ﬁled returns with theCentax-Don Wilkinson agency and hopes the process will becompleted by this summer, a company ofﬁcial said Tuesday.John Deremer, a vice presi-dent with Berkheimer, said theﬁrm has been working on pro-cessing returns since aroundNovember. The process hasbeen time-consuming as thecompany ﬁrst had to obtain,then enter, information fromCentax. The data entry is almost com-plete,Deremersaid.Berkheimernow needs to audit each of thereturns to ensure the amountbeing requested by taxpayersmatches with records that showhowmuchtheypaidin—some-thingCentaxdidnotdo,hesaid.“There are literally hundredsof thousands of returns thatneed to be audited,” Deremersaid. The ﬁrst set of checksshould be mailed out withintwo to three weeks, he said.Berkheimer hopes to completethe process by June or July. The delay in processing therefunds has frustrated Monica Toluba of Hanover Township, who says she’s owed more than$700.She has called numerous of-ﬁces trying to get informationon when she might get hermoney, said Toluba, but no onecould provide her an answer.“It’s over a year now,” shesaid. “It’s 700-some dollars, notlike 5 bucks I don’t care about.” Toluba became more con-cernedafterreadinganarticlein Tuesday’s edition of The TimesLeader that detailed how somepeople owed money for returnsfortaxyearspriorto2011mightnot get refunds. Thereceiverappointedtodis-tribute Centax funds has askeda judge to approve a plan that would allow it to forgo efforts tolocate thousands of people whoare owed more than $347,000 inrefundchecksfrom2002to2010thatwerenevercashed,sayinga lack of information has made ittoo difﬁcult to try to reconcilethe accounts. The receiver hasinstead suggested depositing that money into Centax’s gen-eral fund to pay creditors whoare owed money by the defunctﬁrm. The receiver’s recommenda-tion will not impact 2011 re-turns, which were processed by Berkheimer.Prior to ceasing operations,Centax had sent out some re-fund checks that were not hon-ored.Berkheimerwillbere-issu-ing checks to those individuals,but Deremer cautioned that noteveryone who got a check pre- viously will get one this time,as it was discovered Centax er-roneously sent checks to somepeople who were not entitled toa refund.“It comes down to the audit,”hesaid.“Whenweaudittheirre-turnandiftheyareduearefund, we will send out a new check.” Tolubaisjustgladtoseesomeprogress being made, she said.“I’ve been waiting this long,I can wait a little longer,” shesaid. “I just want to make sureI get it.”
First checks should bemailed out in two to threeweeks, Berkheimer VP says.
3 arrestedfor allegedillegal buyof ﬁrearms
Indictments by federal grand jury include a suspect inKingston cocaine case.
WILKES-BARRE —The Greater Wilkes-Barre Development Corp. — anarm of the Greater Wilkes-Barre Part-nership — will learn today if its $2.4million gaming funds grant applicationto restore the Irem Temple mosque onNorth Franklin Street will be approved.But state legislators representing thearea aren’t optimistic. The historic landmark is deteriorat-ing and Ross McCarty, vice presidentfor real estate, economic developmentand special projects at the Chamber of Commerce, said the funding is neededto stabilize and secure the building.“We’re waiting with bated breath,”McCarty said Tuesday. “It’s not beyondrepair; it needs attention now.”State Rep. Mike Carroll, D-Avoca,spoke on behalf of the northeast delega-tion, which includes Democratic stateReps.PhyllisMundy,EddieDayPashin-ski and Gerald Mullery. Carroll said theCommonwealth Finance Authority isscheduled to meet today and announce where Luzerne County’s $13 millionshare of the Local Share Account (gam-ing funds) will be allocated.However, Carroll was not optimisticthat the Irem mosque will be on the listof grant recipients.“As is always the case, the totalamount requested by the 76 LuzerneCounty communities far exceeds avail-able funds for many important eco-nomic development and community improvement projects throughout thecounty,” Carroll said.“Eachofusworkstobalancethecom-peting interests of these communitiesand their many projects. The applica-tion in support of the mosque seeks a very signiﬁcant investment that couldnot be addressed in a single year andtherefore makes this application espe-cially challenging.” The Hoyt Library in Kingston re-ceived a $1.9 million LSA grant to re-store the library after the ceiling cavedin over a previously expanded wing asthe result of a heavy snow and sleetstorm. Carroll said the Hoyt projectdoes not compare to the Irem mosqueproject.“The Hoyt was a vibrant, function-ing building in the community, and Ibelieve the project was in response toa weather calamity,” he said. “Further,the LSA award and the other fundsdedicated for the Hoyt completed theproject. The mosque, by comparison, will require millions of dollars of workbeyond the request in this year’s LSA. There is no comparison of the two.”Carroll, speaking just for himself,
Prospect Street Cafe owner is accused of assault
NANTICOKE — Policearrested the owner of theProspect Street Cafe after in- vestigating an assault insidethe troubled tavern Monday night.Paul Halliday, 37, of WestRidge Street, nailed an ofﬁcedoor shut and threatened toshoot police if they forcedopen the door, according tocharges ﬁled.Halliday allegedly kickedhis girlfriend when he sawher talking to another maninside a restroom, policesaid.It is the second time thismonth Halliday has been ar-rested.Police charged Halliday on March 3 with drunkendriving after a pursuit thatstarted at his tavern. He wasreleased on the drunken-driving charges after post-ing $5,000 bail on March 4,court records say.According to the latestcriminal complaint:Police responded to thetavern to investigate an al-leged assault just after 10p.m. Police heard pounding insidethetavernandlearnedHalliday had nailed an ofﬁcedoor shut, threatening toshoot police if they did nothave a warrant and if thedoor were forced open.Halliday met an ofﬁcer inthe back of the tavern. Hal-liday was covered in bloodand claimed he was slashed with a box cutter, the com-plaint says.Halliday’s girlfriend,
AIMEE DILGER/THE TIMES LEADER
Police responded to the Prospect Street Cafe in Nanti-coke on Monday, arresting its owner for the second timethis month.
Paul Halliday, 37, became jealous, kicked girlfriend,according to police.
AIMEE DILGER/THE TIMES LEADER
The elaborate stained-glass ceiling is one of the dramatic features found in the Irem Shrine theater at the historicIrem Temple mosque on North Franklin Street in Wilkes-Barre.
Chamber waits on funds for Irem mosque
Group seeks approval of $2.4 milliongaming funds grant application torestore historic landmark.
See HALLIDAY, Page 10ASee IREM, Page 10A