EXETER — A woman held captive and sexually assaulted inside her residence tossed hot chicken soup at her attacker, according to court records.

Court records suggest that the alleged attack happened less than two weeks after the defendant was released from prison.

Borough police allege Joshua Perez, 25, stalked an elderly woman for about two hours before entering her Susquehanna Avenue residence when she left to feed cats early Thursday morning.

Court records say when she returned home, she encountered Perez inside her residence. Perez told the woman, “I’m horny,” and “I’m not leaving until I (lewd comment).”

She pleaded with Perez to remove chicken soup from the oven. As she took the hot pot out of the oven, she threw the steaming contents at Perez, striking him in the neck and chest, court records say.

Perez stayed in the house for about three hours while the woman attempted to make conversation with him. Perez removed all his clothes and performed a self lewd sex act near the woman, police allege.

Police said in court records Perez removed the woman’s pants and underwear and attempted to rape her. She stopped him saying she had surgery.



Perez forced the woman to perform a lewd sex act on him. He left the woman’s house after she gave him a plastic case containing pack of cigarettes and two $20 bills, court records say.

Police in West Pittston located Perez in the area of Luzerne Avenue and Blackman streets. Police said Perez had two $20 bills and the plastic case containing cigarettes.

Court records say Perez on Wednesday entered a residence on Cornelia Street in Pittston where he exposed himself to a woman.

Perez was arraigned by District Judge Joseph Carmody in West Pittston on charges of rape, burglary, unlawful restraint, criminal trespass, simple assault, recklessly endangering another person, indecent assault and indecent exposure. He was jailed at the Luzerne County Correctional Facility for lack of $250,000 bail.

Court records show Perez was recently released on parole on July 23 from Lehigh County Jail. He was arrested in Carbon County in February on burglary charges, which was a violation of his parole on indecent exposure charges out of Lehigh County.

WILKES-BARRE — The city has extended the deadline to apply for the Neighborhood Beautification Façade Improvement program until Feb. 10.

Any Wilkes-Barre resident who owns property that is used as their primary residence on the designated street as defined by the grant application is eligible to apply for funds. Only owner-occupied properties are eligible for up to $3,000 for exterior improvements with a 50% match by the owner.

The designated streets are: West River Street, Grove Street, Butler Street, Barney Street, Hanover Street, North Pennsylvania Avenue, South Meade Street, North Meade Street, Dana Street, Empire Street, Brown Street, South Franklin Street, High Street.

Application materials are also available from the City Clerk’s office on the fourth floor of City Hall, 40 E. Market St.

Brown was sworn in Monday night and the next morning went to work to shed more light on the goings on at City Hall by installing new LED (light-emitting diode) lamps in the hallways and offices.

Visitors and employees have noticed the difference and the city should see a 20-percent drop in its lighting costs with the energy-efficient lamps, the mayor said.

Frati on Friday said the new mayor remarked about the dim lighting and appearance of City Hall. “It’s dreary in here,” Frati recalled Brown telling him.

Having been in the building for years, Frati said he was accustomed to it, adding, “You don’t realize it when you go to work every day.”

Frati said he’d been looking at improving the lighting before Brown took office and at the mayor’s direction came up with a plan.

“What we did, we took out the conventional bulbs and went with commercial grade LED lights,” Frati said.

Holding a Greenignite brand 100-watt LED lamp, the type installed at City Hall, Frati said it has an annual cost of $2.17 at three hours of usage daily. The city’s cost will be higher based on the eight to 10 hours of usage, he acknowledged.

The lamps cost around $32 each, three times the cost of a typical good bulb, Frati said, but they will pay for themselves after a year and last longer than a regular incandescent or fluorescent light.

The plan is to replace the bulbs throughout the building, Frati said. “We started in the hallways. The hallways are what people see most,” he said.

WILKES-BARRE — South Franklin Street will be closed temporarily on Jan. 14 and 15 while a crane is used at The Bank building on the corner of South Franklin and West Market streets.

The block-long section of South Franklin Street between West Northampton and West Market streets will be shut down to through traffic both days from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Access will be allowed to Boscov’s, the Westmoreland Club and businesses of Anheuser Lane and flaggers will be positioned at West Northampton Street to coordinate access to those locations.

WILKES-BARRE TWP. — The Chili’s restaurant on Wyoming Valley Mall Road will be closing after lunch on Sunday, servers are telling patrons this evening.

Arby’s in the mall food court closed in October, while the Sonic fast food drive-through at the edge of the mall property closed last April. The Long John Silver’s restaurant on Kidder Street nearby closed in May.

Chick-fil-A opened up in the former Lucky’s Sporthouse location in October, while Mission BBQ debuted on Mundy Street last month.

Attorney Lawrence Kansky Jr., who was charged for shooting an injured critter to death last May, has filed federal lawsuits against Wilkes-Barre Police and Luzerne County, claiming he was harassed by arresting officer Richard Harding months after the charges were dropped, and inappropriately stripped of his firearm license by county Sheriff Brian Szumski.

The suits, filed on Thursday, stem from a May incident in which Kansky fatally shot a raccoon in the area of West North and Darling Streets in Wilkes-Barre. Kansky uses a building in the area as storage.

Kansky, a local defense attorney, repeatedly called 911 over the course of an eight-hour period, reporting the raccoon had been grievously injured, finally resorting to shooting it with his .38-caliber pistol after receiving no response.

The attorney had been charged with two counts of reckless endangerment and a single count of disorderly conduct, but these charges were dropped by Magisterial District Judge Michael Dotzel after a nearly two-hour long preliminary hearing in September.

“On or about Dec. 31, 2019, at 11:45 a.m., defendant Police Officer Richard Harding pulled behind (Kansky) in a no-parking zone and yelled and screamed at (Kansky) that he was looking for him,” Pollick writes in the suit.

The suit goes on to say that Harding told Kansky he “was a liar, no hero, and got lucky.” The suit says Harding was in full uniform when this occurred.

Kansky claims he attempted to get away from Harding as he was frightened and “had no firearm in his possession.” Kansky says he reported the alleged harassment to 911.

The suit, which names Wilkes-Barre and Police Chief Joseph Coffay as defendants, says Harding violated Kansky’s constitutional rights to due process, additionally saying the city failed to properly train officers like Harding to “not intimidate a citizen after successfully defending a criminal action.”

Kansky’s suit against the county, meanwhile, claims Szumski wrongfully revoked his firearm license without allowing Kansky an opportunity to respond to the decision.

Kansky additionally claims Szumski threatened criminal charges if he did not relinquish his license within five days.

In addition to the county itself, Szumski and the Sheriff’s Department are both named as defendants.

Reached Friday afternoon, Luzerne County Manager C. David Pedri declined to comment because the case deals with pending litigation.

WILKES-BARRE — A request by state prosecutors to delay court proceedings of an Edwardsville man charged with possessing child pornography should be denied, the man’s defense lawyers argued in court papers.

The state Office of Attorney General recently filed a motion in Luzerne County Court seeking to postponed any further court action for Joseph Davis, 64, pending their petition to the U.S. Supreme Court.

State prosecutors are likely to file what is called a Writ of Certiorari to the U.S. Supreme Court to review a recent Pennsylvania Supreme Court decision that Davis does not have to give authorities his computer password.

The state Supreme Court in a 4-3 decision states Davis has a right to protect himself from self-incrimination and does not have to put himself at risk to incriminate himself by providing his computer password.

Davis is the only one who knows the password and indicated to authorities he would “die in prison before giving up the password,” according to the state Supreme Court decision.

Davis, who lived at the Eagle Ridge Apartment Complex, has been jailed at the county correctional facility since his arrest on two counts each of dissemination of obscene materials and criminal use of communication facility by state agents on Oct. 10, 2015, unable to post $200,000 bail.

The state Supreme Court’s decision allows the county court to move forward on Davis’ case, which has been delayed due to appeals.

However, state prosecutors want to further delay Davis’ case pending their request to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Davis’ lawyers, Mark A. Singer, Robert M. Buttner, Peter Goldberger and Mary Catherine Roper, filed a response seeking a county court judge to deny the request.

They argue the request by state prosecutors was filed outside the time limit of the Nov. 10 decision by the state Supreme Court.

“…the injury to Mr. Davis, at least another six months, approximately, in pretrial detention without progress toward resolution of his case greatly outweighs any harm to the commonwealth from the inability to possibly add additional charges,” Davis’ lawyers wrote in their response.

His lawyers also argue the probability that the U.S. Supreme Court will review Davis’ case is “not high,” as the nation’s highest court only accepts 70 cases out of 9000 petitions.

WHITE HAVEN — Filling a ballroom at the Mountain Laurel Resort in White Haven, hundreds of residents came to hear more information about the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ plan to perform a reevaluation study for the Francis E. Walter Dam and Reservoir.

And while many seemed concerned that the result of the study would lead to New York City having an out-sized amount of control over the local water supply, a representative from the city’s Department of Environmental Protection said New York City has no interest in taking our area’s drinking water.

Thursday evening’s public meeting was one of the first steps in the reevaluation study launched by the Army Corps, that is co-sponsored by the Delaware River Basin Commission and the New York City DEP.

Hundreds gathered in the ballroom at the resort amid growing community concern over why New York City is involved in the plan. Paul Rush, deputy commissioner of the city’s DEP, said at the meeting that he wanted to “dispel some myths” about the city’s involvement.

“New York City is not interested in purchasing any drinking water, or having control over the reservoir,” he said.

According to Rush, whose statements were echoed by members of the Army Corps who spoke, the study is mostly to determine how to best improve the areas affected by the Francis E. Walter Dam — which include both our area and New York City.

The Army Corps’ study will focus, in large parts, on how to best supply New York City and its nearly 9 million citizens with water in the event of a massive drought.

Currently, water would be released to the city through the Delaware River, but that could take nearly six days of travel time before it got there. It could take significantly less time if that water were released from the area of the Francis E. Walter Dam.

Rush said, though, that it’s important that this study rely on scientific facts, and not simply the desires of New York City.

“This is not about what’s best for New York City; it’s about what’s best for the Delaware River and those who depend on it,” he said

Dan Caprioli, from the Philadelphia District of the Army Corps, said the study will be looking for the best ways to improve the lives of everyone who has a vested interest in the project, including the people who live around the dam in our area.

Caprioli said that eventual improvements could lead to improvements to fisheries and recreation in the area around the dam.

The study is still in its very early stages, with the Army Corps not even slated to make tentative proposals for improvements until the end of this year.

State Sen. Lisa Baker, R-Lehman Township, said the Army Corps needs to commit to helping our area, too, and not just New York.

“What is the long-range contingency plan if water is released and then a drought happens here in our region?” Baker asked. “Who helps counter our water emergency?”

“New York, you are not a friendly neighbor,” she said, referencing sewage dumped by the state into the Susquehanna River.

“Please don’t sell us out,” she said. “Listen to what we have to say. We are not going away.”

Residents will have more chances to make their voices heard, with the Army Corps scheduling two more public meetings to be held this fall and next spring. These will be definitively scheduled at a later date.

WILKES-BARRE — A group of developers have big plans for a couple of buildings on the outskirts of the downtown.

Wilkes-Barre Realty LLC purchased the former Thomas C. Thomas Co. produce terminal, an adjacent warehouse and parking lots on the corner of East Union Street and North Pennsylvania Avenue for a office and retail conversion.

One of the developers, Joe Rinkus, owner of LHC Construction Management in Pittston, said work is in the planning stages with the hope of starting construction on the two-story terminal building in March or April of this year.

Uses include office, retail, storage and a gym with exterior landscaping and parking for the Union Street Complex. All the construction will be done in-house, Rinkus said.

“The buildings will be modernized to Class A retail and office,” Rinkus said Thursday. “The developers want this to be a business friendly work space and socially enjoyable.”

Rinkus said the others involved are Varghese Ninan, Aditya Thakar and Abraham Philips and they’ve undertaken a number of projects in other states.

Locally, Rinkus has built the senior living projects Highland Park in Wilkes-Barre Township and Glenmaura in Moosic. He’s also associated with a project to convert the former Wilkes-Barre Township High School on Casey Avenue into a 30-unit apartment complex for seniors.

To convert the former Thomas properties, extensive work will be done on the interiors and exteriors, but it won’t entail a complete rebuild, Rinkus said. The overall cost is still being confirmed and the “developers will explore all funding options,” he said.

Now 16, the Wyoming Area junior said she endured bullying for her entire 8th grade year and she “just dealt with it,” never reaching out to anybody for help.

“Some students don’t realize what they do and how they affect other students,” Oliver said Thursday.

She also knows that there is compassion and goodness in many, but that we all need to talk about it. Oliver was among more than 1,100 students at the Wyoming Area Secondary Center Thursday who were asked to take “Rachel’s Challenge,” part of an anti-bullying initiative aimed at creating an atmosphere of kindness and compassion for students.

“Today’s program will shed light on that and show students that their fellow classmates really care about them,” Oliver said.

The nationally recognized anti-bullying, pro-kindness program is named for Rachel Joy Scott, the first victim in the 1999 Columbine High School shootings in Littleton, Colo.

Her uncle, Larry Scott, spoke to the students, faculty, staff and community on Thursday, telling them that an estimated 160,000 students skip school every day for fear of being bullied.

With more than 1,200 schools and businesses reached the Rachel’s Challenge program is working, Scott said, adding that everywhere he goes, kids want to do all they can to become better people.

At heart, it encourages youth to take five steps: Look for the best in others, dream big, choose positive influences, speak with kindness and start your own chain reaction.

According to the program’s website, rachelschallenge.org, its aims are broad: Help schools and businesses become safer by encouraging real culture change that will lead to reductions in bullying and the use of alcohol, tobacco and other drugs.

“We’ve been told that our program has prevented at least eight school shootings,” Scott said. “Students who attended our presentation have reported what they had heard and arrests were made.”

Wyoming Area Superintendent Janet Serino said three administrators planned the program: Shaun Rohland, assistant principal of discipline; Robert Gallela, director of curriculum; and Jon Pollard, building principal.

Serino said the program is designed to show the students the importance to always having a positive attitude and to grow the culture of compassion and sincere concern for each other and their mental health.

Ninth-grader Patrick Brantley, 14, said he read about Rachel before the program. He said he found Larry Scott’s presentation “sincere and moving.”

“We learned that a lot goes on in the minds of students that they don’t express,” Brantley said. “It’s important for students who are having issues to know that they can reach out to their peers for help.”

“Mr. Scott emphasized the importance of reaching out,” he said. “We all have to spread kindness and let our fellow students know that there are people who care about them and that they can come to us.”

Scott said he is hopeful that students will decide to continue Rachel’s legacy by helping to get her message to more students and adults. At the Wyoming Area program, students were asked to text their parents and invite them to Thursday night’s evening presentation.

“I have this theory that if one person can go out of their way to show compassion, then it will start a chain reaction of the same. People will never know how far a little kindness can go.”

Senior Dominic DeLuca is looking to spread that message, and hopes Thursday’s program will help students learn how to handle difficult situations.

“The way the world has changed, especially through the internet and social media, people sometimes don’t make good decisions,” said DeLuca, 18, who was the quarterback on the Wyoming Area state championship football team. “The key is to stay positive.”

“If someone is being bullied, I ask that they come see me,” he said. “We will help, so just reach out. We don’t want to see any bullying in our schools.”

WILKES-BARRE — With one member absent and three participating via telephone, the Wilkes-Barre Area School Board voted 8-0 to limit any tax increase for the 2020-21 school year to no more than a state-set maximum of 3.7%. The move came during a brief noon meeting Thursday more notable for the exchanges — both before and after the vote — between board critic Sam Troy, Superintendent Brian Costello and District Solicitor Ray Wendolowski.

Troy was the only audience member to speak at the sparsely attended meeting, first questioning if it was legal to have board member’s vote by phone, then questioning the legality of a non-public board gathering Wednesday for “informational” purposes involving an update on high school construction.

Wendolowski said case law has made it clear board members can participate by phone, and that boards can gather for informational purposes as long at no “deliberations” are held. While Troy argued deliberations had to be done during discussion of the $121 million high school consolidation project, Board Member Melissa Patla, who in 2017 in opposition to the project, insisted no deliberations were done at the Wednesday meeting.

Troy raised two old grievances: that the district did not fight a successful tax assessment appeal filed by the owners of the Boscov’s store in downtown Wilkes-Barre,and that the district gave the former Wilkes-Barre Township school building back to the township rather than sell it. He argued the two moves cost the district hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Wendolowski countered that he had looked into fighting the Boscov’s assessment reduction but that the requested reduction appeared to be reasonable and the district probably would have wasted thousands of dollars in a losing fight. He also said the district got the old school building during consolidation of school districts at no cost and that the township had been asking to have it given back for more than a decade before the district finally sold it to the township for $1.

The former school had been used for storage and limited office use before a collapse of part of the roof, and the district opted not to invest in repairs, selling it to the township.

At the start of his complaints, Troy made what has become a routine request he be allowed to speak for more than the five minutes allowed under board policy. He cited the fact that he had donated $1,500 for scholarships for two GAR Memorial Students. Board President Joe Caffrey thanked him for the donation but declined the request for extra time.

While exchanges with Troy often get testy during meetings, he stuck around afterwards and chatted at length with Wendolowski and Costello following adjournment, trading barbs and some laughs. Costello said Troy’s constant call for staff reductions shows he is “for consolidation,” while Wendolowski said Troy and others like him help keep the board and district honest.

WILKES-BARRE — A former Plymouth man apologized Thursday for his role in carjacking the wife of a former Wilkes-Barre police chief in April 2016.

Dametrius Cefus Laws, 24, said time spent in state prison for an unrelated robbery and home invasion in Plymouth in March 2016 has changed him, noting he would rather have his freedom than lead a life of crime.

Luzerne County Judge Joseph Sklarosky Jr. said he recognized Laws has changed his behavior and noted a personal apology he made to Jean Dessoye, the wife of former police chief Gerard Dessoye.

Wilkes-Barre police alleged Laws and Corey Thomas Patrick, 22, conspired to steal a 2015 Chevrolet Equinox occupied by Jean Dessoye when she parked on Diebel Street, Wilkes-Barre, on April 3, 2016. She suffered leg injuries during the carjacking, according to court records.

With FBI assistance, city detectives learned the suspects’ cellphones were in the area of the carjacking and later in the area where the vehicle was recovered.

Detectives also traced the eyeglass frame to a retail store in Wilkes-Barre Township where a sales receipt was linked to Patrick and his cellphone number.

Laws, who is serving a five- to 10-year state prison sentence for the Plymouth robbery and home invasion, pleaded guilty to robbery of a vehicle and theft.

Sklarosky sentenced him to an additional three to six years in state prison for the carjacking offense, followed by two years probation.

WILKES-BARRE — An Ashley man was sentenced Thursday to at least four years in state prison and is subjected to lifetime registration under the state’s Megan’s Law for having sex with a 12-year-old girl he met on social media.

Tamango Michael Brown, 25, who lived on Ashley Street, was arrested by Luzerne County detectives in February 2019 alleging he had sexual contact with the girl at least three times at a playground on Hickory Street in Wilkes-Barre.

Detectives were given information by the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children after receiving tips that Brown was communicating with the girl on Facebook. During chat sessions, Brown asked the girl to send him nude pictures.

Brown and the girl conversed about having sex and talked about their age differences, with Brown telling the girl he didn’t care, according to court records.

The girl sent Brown a 5-second video of her taking a shower, and Brown sent the girl a picture of his genitals.

Court records say the girl was questioned by a forensic interviewer at the Luzerne County Children’s Advocacy Center where she explained she met Brown on social media and eventually in person at the playground three or four times.

Assistant District Attorney James L. McMonagle said Brown was aware the girl was underage when he pressured her into having sex.

Judge Joseph Sklarosky Jr. said Brown displayed “very troubling conduct with a 12-year-old girl.”

Sklarosky sentenced Brown to four to 11 years in state prison on charges of aggravated indecent assault, unlawful contact with a minor and corruption of minors.

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