Here’s a bit of last week’s breaking news from around the area. To learn more, check out the full stories on line at www.timesleader.com
•On Aug. 29, a driver apparently fell asleep at the wheel and crashed his car through the front doors of Boscov’s at the Steamtown Mall according to police. The driver was stopped at a traffic light on Wyoming Avenue, prepared to turn left onto Lackawanna Avenue, and when he awoke, his 2011 Chevrolet Malibu was through the glass front of Boscov’s Department Store, said Scranton police Lt. Martin Crofton.
• An Altoona woman, allegedly caught with $5,000 worth of marijuana said she was selling the pot because she needed cash to pay bills and a new roof on her home, according to charges filed. Her passenger was handcuffed by troopers after a records check showed an active protection-from-abuse order prohibited contact with the driver. The passenger was allegedly found with two rolls of cash totaling $1,355 in his pockets according to the criminal complaint. A state police canine searched the vehicle that allegedly uncovered nine large bags of marijuana and a cardboard box containing several hundred unused and empty heroin packets.
• Wilkes University has established a School of Nursing program for the 2014-15 year, marking it the only higher education institution with a separate nursing school in Northeastern Pennsylvania. For more than 30 years, Wilkes University had a nursing program. Growth in the field of study and industry factored into the decision to restructure and establish a separate school of study. Formerly the nursing program was combined with the Nesbitt School of Pharmacy.
• Two prisoners out on work release were spotted lounging on a bench on Public Square on Aug. 28, allegedly high on some drug, according to city police. Officers observed the two men sitting on a bench and described them as “under the influence of an unknown drug to the degree the two were very lethargic.” The men couldn’t answer any questions without the officers repeating the questions several times. As officers were speaking to the men, the suspects appeared to continue falling asleep. When they opened their eyes, they would just look at the officers without saying anything, police said. Officers contacted the prison and were advised the two men were on leave from the prison for work release.
• Hazelton police on Sept. 1 continued to investigate the deaths of a husband and wife in their James Street home the previous night, in what appears to have been a murder-suicide. Police were dispatched to the 800 block at about 8 p.m. Aug. 31 for a report of two unresponsive people, and they found two bodies inside. Luzerne County Coroner William Lisman confirmed on Monday that the bodies were those of Michelle and Wayne Volciak.
• A West Hazleton man who pleaded guilty to tearing a woman’s stomach tissue through her anus will spend up to 21 years behind bars. The 30 male received his sentence Aug. 28 in Luzerne County Court from Judge Fred Pierantoni.
“Your actions are unexplainable and have caused damage for years to come,” Pierantoni told the man.
• On Sept. 19, the “Remembering Our Veterans Memorial” group from Back Mountain Harvest Assembly of God Church, Carverton Road, Trucksville, will light a watch fire to spiritually guide home, remember and honor all the POW/MIA from America’s wars and conflicts, said John Tasco, who represents the group.
• Wilkes-Barre police arrested a man at the Luzerne County Courthouse Aug. 29 and charged him with raping a child earlier this year. The 28-year-old man, of Moyallen Street, was at the courthouse for a pre-trial hearing on charges he purchased two vehicles totalling more than $64,000 at Motorworld issuing checks that had insufficient funds, according to police and court records. He was taken be arraigned on charges of rape of a child, involuntary deviate sexual intercourse, endangering the welfare of children, corruption of minors, indecent assault, indecent exposure and two counts of aggravated indecent assault. He was jailed at the county correctional facility for lack of $30,000 bail.
• John Yuknavich won’t be fire chief much longer, as he prepares to add a few new titles before his name. Among them? Thief. Felon. And quite possibly, federal inmate.
The controversial head of the Wilkes-Barre Township Volunteer Fire Department on Thursday reached a plea agreement with federal prosecutors admitting to stealing department funds, under which he must make $45,000 in restitution and resign his position within 10 days. Yuknavich, 51, also faces up to 10 years in prison. The plea agreement must be approved by U.S. District Court. Senior U.S. District Judge Edwin M. Kosik scheduled an arraignment and plea hearing for 10 a.m. Sept. 25 in Scranton, according to court documents.
• Officers responded to 300 Parkview Circle around 4 a.m. Aug. 29, where a man said his wallet was stolen as he was leaving a friend’s apartment, police said. The alleged victim, a 56-year-old white male, said he took his wallet from his pocket to retrieve his own apartment key when an unknown male approached him and took the wallet which contained cash, a police report stated. According to police, the alleged victim stated that he could not provide a race of the unknown individual, who left the building in an unknown direction
• An officer on routine patrol in the area of Public Square Aug. 29 observed a man throw a lottery ticket on the ground, police said. The officer advised the male pick up the trash, police said, otherwise he would be cited. Initially, the man denied having thrown the ticket, but then stated, “Oh yeah, I forgot, it was not a winner,” police reported.