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GILBERTON — Borough ofﬁ-cials said Thursday they intend toﬁre a police chief suspended afterhe posted online videos of himself shooting automatic weapons andgoing on profanity-laced tiradesabout liberals and the SecondAmendment.Gilberton council membersmade the decision on Thursdayconcerning Chief Mark Kessler,the only full-time member of thetown’s police force, who’s activein gun rights circles and is orga-nizing an armed, non-governmentgroup that critics call a privatemilitia.Kessler, despite insisting hewas simply exercising his consti-tutional rights in the videos, saidthe town council’s decision was“no surprise.”“We knew it was coming,” hesaid.A closed-door disciplinary hear-ing earlier in the day had dwelledon allegations including thatKessler improperly used a state-administered program to buydiscounted tires for his personalvehicle, failed to submit requiredcrime data and made derogatorycommentsaboutboroughofﬁcials,said his attorney, Joseph Nahas.Nahas said the charges weretrumped up to conceal the town’sintent to ﬁre Kessler over the vid-eos. He said after the vote he’llrequest a public hearing at whichboth sides can call witnesses, as isKessler’s right under due processrules. The council would thenhave to vote a second time to ﬁreKessler.Kessler told reporters outsidehis disciplinary hearing that hehad been an excellent police chief and had nothing to apologize for.He said later he’d broken no laws:“None. I’d be in handcuffs.”“My message was to wake upthepeoplewhoareindependents,”hesaid,“tosay,‘We’vehadenoughand something needs to change,because we’re in bad shape allaround. Not only here in this littletown but across the nation. It’s amess.’”Kessler solicited donations tohelp keep his family aﬂoat ﬁnan-cially during his unpaid suspen-sion, which he said was “reallystressful.”“ButIfeelinmyheartI’mdoing the right thing,” he said. “Yeah,I made some videos with somechoice language, but that’s myright. That’s my freedom.”Kessler’s pro-gun videos havegarnered hundreds of thousandsof views online. He acknowledgesthey are inﬂammatory but saysthey’re designed to draw atten-tion to the erosion of SecondAmendment and other constitu-tional rights.Council members declined tocomment after Thursday night’svote. Earlier, Mayor Mary LouHannon had said she found thepolice chief’s language offensive.Kessler, a former coal miner,often posts online radio showsabout gun rights, has spoken atgun rights rallies and created awebsiteonwhichheseeksrecruitsfor the Constitution SecurityForce, whose stated mission is todefend the constitution and thecountry from tyranny.Gun rights activists haddescended on the community of about 800 people, in SchuylkillCounty in eastern Pennsylvania’santhracite coal country, to showsupportforKessler,somecarrying ﬂags and displaying weapons.Constitution Security Forcemember Bob Gardner traveledfrom Philadelphia.“Mark has gotten railroaded,”said Gardner, who carried a semi-automaticAK-47.“Hewasexercis-ing his First Amendment rightsby backing it up with his SecondAmendment rights.”In January, Kessler drafted aresolution the borough adoptedthat calls for nullifying any fed-eral, state or local regulationsthat infringe on the SecondAmendment.
WRIGHT TWP. — Crestwood High Schoolwelcomed 961 students for the new schoolyear, it was announced at Thursday night’sSchool Board meeting.It was also announced that as part of theYoung Scholars program, 106 students arebeing provided with the opportunity to attendclasses at King’s College, Wilkes Universityand Luzerne County Community College. The board also approved the following professional substitutes for the 2013-2014school year: Jeremy Carl, general science, biol-ogy; Kristen Smolenak, elementary K-6; MikkiShalata, Spanish K-12, social studies 7-12; andKyley Henry, mathematics 7-12.Approved for student teaching in the dis-trict during the fall semester are, from theUniversity of Scranton, Kelly Kondrash, schoolcounselor, and from Drexel University, BrennaM. Wyatt, social studies 7-12.An agreement with Speech Path P.C. toprovide speech/language services along withevaluating services for assistive technologydevices was also approved. The cost to the dis-trict remains at the same cost as last year at$60 per hour. The Crestwood High School Marching Bandunder the direction of Joseph Ziegler is sched-uled for competition in the Tournament of Bands and Cavalcade of Bands competitions. The School Board also approved the follow-ing changes in routes for the following buses:(A.)BusNo.4–PMDroppingoffatNuangolaRoad from Nuangola Fire Hall to Blue Ridge Trail(includingWillowGroveandFawnLane).Drop off Blue Ridge Trail to Lily Lake Road toSchmidt’s Road, Slocum Road from Schmidt’sRoad to Grosz’s Road, and back to Lily LakeRoad, Church Road to Rice Elementary.(B.) Bus No. 12-PM Dropping off stu-dents at Nuangola Road from Rule’s Garageto Blythburn Road. Nuangola Fire Hall thento Fisher’s Corner on Blythburn Road, on toChurch Road to Rice Elementary. The next meeting will be on Oct. 17 at 6:30pm.
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DeLay acquitted afer conviction overturned
AUSTIN, Texas — A Texasappeals court on Thursdayoverturned the money-laun-dering and conspiracy convic-tions that ended the politicalcareer of former U.S. HouseMajority Leader Tom DeLayseven years ago. The Texas Republican wasfacing a three-year prisonsentence before the Texas 3rdCourt of Appeals’ majorityopinion ruled that there was“legally insufﬁcient evidence”at DeLay’s 2010 trial before aTravis County jury. The court, which split 2-1alongpartisanlines,acquittedDeLay of all charges. He hadbeen free on bond, pending the appeal.DeLaywasataWashington,D.C., prayer meeting whenhe learned of the decision,according to media reports.“We were all basically onour knees praying, and ourlawyercallsandsays,‘You’reafree man,’ ” he said at the U.S.Capitol, where he was attend-ing the weekly Texas congres-sional delegation lunch.Brian Wice, DeLay’s appel-late lawyer, said he told hisclient: “When I see you, I’mgoing to dump a Gatoradebucket over your head.We won the Super Bowl.”However, Thursday’s victoryfor DeLay doesn’t end thelong-running case — dat-ing to the 2002 elections— because Travis CountyDistrict Attorney RosemaryLehmberg said she would askthe Texas Court of CriminalAppeals to review the deci-sion.“We are absolutely going toappeal it,” said Lehmberg, aDemocrat.“We are concerned anddisappointed that two judgessubstituted their assessmentof the facts for that of 12 jurors who personally heardthe testimony of over 40 wit-nesses over the course of sev-eral weeks and found that theevidence was sufﬁcient andprovedDeLay’sguiltbeyondareasonable doubt,” Lehmberg said in a written statement. The politically chargedcase has frequently split along partisan lines as it woundthrough the courts for years. Thursday’s decision was nodifferent.Justice Melissa Goodwinof Austin wrote the major-ity opinion, joined by visit-ing Justice David Gaultneyfrom the Beaumont court of appeals.BothareRepublicans.Chief Justice Woodie Jones, aDemocrat, dissented.DeLay was accused of con-spiring to launder corporatedonations into campaigncontributionstostatelawmak-ersduringthe2002legislativeelections. State law prohib-its corporations from giving campaign donations to can-didates, although companiescan give money to politicalcommittees to pay overhead.Prosecutors argued thatDeLay’s motive was to electa Republican majority inthe Texas Legislature toredraw congressional dis-tricts and tighten his grip asa leader in the U.S. House of Representatives. The heart of the criminalcase was a $190,000 transac-tion in the waning weeks of the 2002 elections. Texans fora Republican Majority, a polit-ical action committee led byDeLay, exchanged $190,000of its corporate donationsfor the same amount of legaldonations to candidates froman arm of the RepublicanNational Committee.In her opinion, Goodwinconcluded, “The fundamen-tal problem with the state’scase was its failure to proveproceeds of criminal activ-ity.” She noted that the juryon two occasions asked trialJudge Pat Priest whether the$190,000 was “illegal at thestart of the transaction” or“procured by illegal meansoriginally.” Goodwin saidprosecutors didn’t prove thatpoint — a critical elementto conspiring to laundermoney—andthejudgeneveranswered the jurors’ ques-tions. Instead, Priest referredthem to the jury charge.Dick DeGuerin, whorepresented DeLay at thetrial, speculated that the jurymight have acquitted his cli-ent had the judge answeredthe questions.“It’s hard to second-guesswhat a jury does,” DeGuerinsaid. “But clearly, the jurywas asking the right ques-tion.” The majority opinionalso noted that the corporatemoney and the campaigndonations were kept in sepa-rate accounts, never mingledand thus “not tainted.”Likewise, the opinion saidthe evidence showed thatall parties to the $190,000transaction were attempting to comply with the ElectionCode, as opposed to conspir-ing to break the law.And, ﬁnally, Goodwinwrote that corporatewitnesses all testiﬁed thatthey intended their donationsto be used legally.Jones disagreed in hisdissent: “A rational juror hear-ing the evidence presentedin this trial could have foundthat the relevant corporatecontributions to TRMPACwere made with the intentthat they be used to supportindividual candidates or beput to other purposes notauthorized” by the state elec-tion laws.Wice said that DeLay andhis legal team are gratiﬁedand relieved by Thursday’sdecision.“What happened today isfair, right and just,” he said.Wice said the legal casewas an ordeal for his client,now 66, who retired fromCongress in 2006 because of the indictments.Since then, Wice saidthat DeLay has worked as aconsultant and occasionallylectures.“Tom was supposed to beliving his golden years,” Wicesaid. “They ruined his life.”
Gilberton Police Chief Mark Kessler listens as Gilberton Mayor Mary LouHannon makes a recommendation to suspend himThursday in Mahanoy Plane.
• Copper pipes and other
items reportedly were sto-len during a burglary at Ss.Peter and Paul LutheranChurch on Alter Street some-time between Monday andThursday. A separate loca-tion next to the church alsowas burglarized and copperpipes stolen, police said.
• Copper pipe reportedly
was stolen during a burglaryof a residence in the 500block of South Poplar Street.
• A dirt bike and a wallet
containing numerous creditcards, cash and a driver’slicense were stolen from agarage in the 1300 blockof East Broad Street some-time Wednesday night intoThursday morning, policesaid.
— Citypolice investigating a report-ed armed robbery arrested aman hiding under a parkedcar on West River Streetearly Thursday morning. Thomas Howard, 43, of Wilkes-Barre, was arraignedon charges of ﬂight to avoidapprehension, resisting arrest, disorderly conduct,false identiﬁcation to lawenforcement and publicdrunkenness. He was jailedat the Luzerne CountyCorrectional Facility for lackof $20,000 bail.Police investigated areported armed robbery inthe area of Carey Avenue andAcademy Street at about 1a.m. Howard was found inthe area and matched thedescription of the gunman,police said.PolicelearnedHowardwaswanted for false identiﬁca-tion and public drunkennesssince Sept. 13. The man who reported thearmed robbery never provid-ed police with a statement.
—Fourvehicles were reported stolento city police since Saturday.Frank Cardamone, of Wyalusing, reported Tuesdayhis white 2005 ChevroletAveo, Pennsylvania licenseGDS-8537, was stolen fromtheparkinglotnexttoCareerLink on East Union Street.A 44-year-old woman onChase Lane told police hergold 1997 Oldsmobile van,Pennsylvania license HYT-8767, was stolen from thefront of her house at about12:30 a.m. Wednesday. Thewoman left the vehicle idling.A 52-year old womanreported her silver 1999Nissan Sentra, Pennsylvanialicense HXV-666, was stolenfrom the 200 block of SouthFranklin Street at about 9p.m. Sunday.A 39-year-old woman fromForty Fort reported on Sept.14 that her gold 2000 PontiacGrand Prix, Pennsylvanialicense JHJ-8103, was stolenfrom Bowman Street.Statistics from the statepolice Uniform Crime Reportshow there have been 76vehicles stolen in Wilkes-Barre from Jan. 1 throughAug. 31.
• A burglary was reported
on the 400 block of WastWalnut Street on Wednesday. The victim told police sev-eral items were stolen fromthe home. Police ask anyonewith information to call 570-459-4940.
• On Wednesday, the
department’s anti-crimeunit and the patrol divisioninitiated a drug trafﬁcking investigation at 32 Irving Place. Ofﬁcers seized heroinand crack cocaine from theresidence that were attrib-uted to the defendant, DarrelKendrick, 45, of 68 CliffordSt., East Orange, N.J.He was arraigned pending further court action. It wasdetermined that Kendrickhas multiple felony arrestsrelated to drug trafﬁcking.Hisbailwassetat$20,000onvarious drug-related charges.
• On Thursday, ofcers
from the department’s tac-tical patrol unit conductedoperations in and aroundPublic Square to coincidewith the weekly FarmersMarket. During the day they:Cited Tyrone J. Pearson,of Scranton, and JeffreySaintpreux, of Jersey City,N.J., with selling items with-out a permit. Both men werewarned multiple times byofﬁcers earlier in the day tocease their actions, policesaid.
— The co-defendant of murder suspect Hugo Selenski has been sched-uledtoappearforapretrialconferenceinadvanceofhisOct.7trial.Paul Weakley, 43, is serving life in prisonon federal racketeering charges related to the2003 deaths of Michael Kerkowski and TammyFassett. He previously has been scheduled to goto trial in Luzerne County, but his case has oftenbeen delayed because Selenski has not yet beenbroughttotrialonrelatedcharges.Weakley is a witness in the case. Selenski’scase is on hold due to a grand jury investigationsurroundingthecase.Police said Kerkowski and Fassett’s bodieswere unearthed on the property where SelenskilivedinKingstonTownshipinJune2003.
— A search warrant ﬁledbypoliceafterabicyclistdiedinanaccidentearli-erthismonthseekstoobtainhismedicalrecords.Richard Swartz, 33, of West Ross Street,Wilkes-Barre, died from injuries after being struck by a vehicle while riding in the areaof Boston Hill Road and East Main Street onSept.5.Swartzwasstruckatabout8p.m.Hewaspronounced dead at Geisinger Wyoming ValleyMedical Center in Plains Township just before 9p.m.