Magistrate Report

Magisterial District Court Judge Ronald W. Swank heard proceedings on Wednesday, July 10, 2013, regarding several Mountaintop cases.

Among the hearings was the case against Christopher Lee Albertson, 33, of Freeland. Albertson was facing a Preliminary Hearing on burglary charges and related counts from investigations involving police forces from Rice, which also covers Nuangola, Fairview, Wright, Butler, Sugarloaf Township Police, and officers from State Police Hazleton, Shickshinny and Wyoming Barracks.

Public Defense Atty. Ferris Webby reported that Judge Swank accepted a plea to waive all charges to Luzerne County Court of Common Pleas. He said that Albertson, “will be going down to that court for multiple charges; multiple jurisdictions.”

The counts resulted from burglaries amounting to over 30 separate break-ins in the Mountaintop area alone. Documents show that Rice Township Officer Brian Stout realized that the burglaries were developing a pattern. Armed with the information gained during his investigation, Ptlm. Stout coordinated with Tpr. Kenneth Houck of PSP Hazleton, Cpl. Patrick Dougherty of PSP Shickshinny and officers from Butler and Sugarloaf Townships. Shortly thereafter, a vehicle matching the description of one observed near other crime scenes was observed fleeing a burgled home in Bear Creek.

Thanks to the combined efforts of all of the police departments in Mountaintop and the State Police, Albertson was arrested and charged.

Webby described the defendant as having been, “cooperative, extremely cooperative” with police. He added that discussions with Albertson prior to his court appearance resulted in another attempted burglary charge filed by Wright Township Police, and closing an active case in that municipality.

Court records show that Albertson remains incarcerated in lieu of multiple bail charges from varying Magisterial District Judges.

+++++ Defendants Justin E. Coledo, 20, of

Nanticoke and Sierra R. Benninger, 19, of Mountaintop appeared for Preliminary Hearings on counts resulting from a hunting excursion in the State Game Lands in Rice Township.

The original counts for Coledo -Prohibited Offensive Weapons for possession of brass knuckles; Receiving Stolen Property, and 1 count of Unlawful Devices, for using a magazine shotgun to hunt turkey; along others, amounted to 11 counts. Discussions between arresting officers Wildlife Commission Officers David P. Allen and Timothy Readler, and Coledo’s attorney Mark M. Mack resulted in the withdrawal of 5 counts and the reduction of the others to a Summary count of Disorderly Conduct and four other summary charges. Coledo received fines for the reduced charges.

Benninger, likewise, received reduced charges, reported her attorney Ferris Webby. The seven counts against her were withdrawn and in their place, she was charged with only three summary charges and was fined.