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Carbon County court — drug cases

Published January 24. 2020 12:25PM

Eight defendants in pending drug-related cases entered guilty pleas in Carbon County court on Thursday.

President Judge Roger N. Nanovic II accepted the pleas from the following:

Two cases

Alexandria G. Zelinsky, 24, of Palmerton, entered guilty pleas to one count each of possession of a controlled substance - heroin, and possession of drug paraphernalia.

She was arrested on the first count on July 8 by Lansford police following a vehicle stop along Bertsch Street. She was a passenger in the vehicle and found to have heroin in her possession. She was placed in the county’s Accelerated Rehabilitation Disposition probation program for first-time offenders but was revoked from it less than a month later when she was arrested on Aug. 26 on the paraphernalia charge by Palmerton police. That arrest occurred at a residence along Princeton Avenue.

Zelinsky has been in prison on the charges.

Zelinsky admitted to drug addiction issues and is scheduled to enter an inpatient rehabilitation program to address those issues.

Zelinsky’s probation officer, Kimberly Cooper, told the court that Zelinsky has not only been using heroin, but tests showed other illegal substances in her system. Cooper also said she didn’t feel Zelinsky was taking her addiction problems seriously. Those sentiments were also expressed by a relative of the defendant.

Nanovic placed her on probation for a year on both counts, running concurrently, and ordered her to get a drug and alcohol evaluation and follow any recommendation for treatment, zero tolerance for drug or alcohol use, and before being released from prison, must enter an inpatient rehab program and must successfully complete it or it would violate her probation period.

Other pleas

Lorene Marie Rice, 43, of Girardville, Schuylkill County, and formerly of Palmerton, pleaded to one count each of possession of a controlled substance and possession of a prohibitive offensive weapon. She was arrested on Aug. 6, 2018, at her father’s residence in Bowmanstown by state police at Lehighton. Troopers responded to a reported disturbance and found Rice on scene apparently under the influence. A pat-down search found illegal drugs and the firearm.

She was originally charged with 61 criminal counts including multiple counts of possession of a controlled substance and possession of drug paraphernalia, and counts of theft, receiving stolen property, firearms not to be carried without a license and possession of a firearm prohibitive (because she is a convicted felon). The theft, receiving and firearms not to be carried without a license counts are felonies.

All the charges were dropped except for the two she pleaded to in a plea deal with the district attorney’s office.

She claimed the firearm found, a Taurus revolver, belonged to her father and he gave it to her, she didn’t steal it.

Nanovic deferred sentencing and ordered the adult probation office to prepare a presentence investigation report.

Justin Ramel Vereen, 27, of Lansford, pleaded to one count each of possession of a controlled substance - methamphetamine, and driving while under suspension. He was arrested on Nov. 8 by Lansford police along Patterson Street following a vehicle stop.

On the drug count, Nanovic sentenced him to serve three to 12 months in prison with zero tolerance for drug or alcohol use. On the suspension count he was fined $200.

Vereen is currently an inmate in the Berks County prison on a probation violation charge. His Carbon term began immediately.

Francis Aponte Jr., 29, of Lansford, pleaded to one count of possession of a controlled substance, heroin. He was arrested on Feb. 23, 2019, in the 400 block of West Bertsch Street by Lansford police. Police saw Aponte and placed him under arrest on an active warrant. While being taken into custody, the illegal drugs were found.

Nanovic sentenced him to serve six to one day less 24 months in prison, get a drug and alcohol evaluation and supply a DNA sample. He was given credit for 220 days already served and paroled.

He won’t be released from the county prison as he has a pending probation violation charge and another criminal count.

Ryan M. Beers, 38, of Jim Thorpe, pleaded to one count of possession of a controlled substance, heroin. He was arrested on June 30 by Nesquehoning police in the parking lot of Redner’s Market along Market Street.

Nanovic placed him on probation for a year and ordered he get a drug and alcohol evaluation and zero tolerance for drug or alcohol use.

Terrence Lamar Moore, 31, of Lansford, pleaded to one count of possession of a controlled substance, methamphetamine. He was arrested on May 14 by Lansford police at Ridge and Chestnut streets. Officers were serving an active warrant when they found the illegal drugs in a backpack Moore had.

Sentencing was deferred. Moore, an inmate in the county prison, has a pending parole issue.

Lawrence J. Klinger, 57, of Kresgeville, pleaded to one count each of possession of a small amount of marijuana and driving under suspension. He was arrested on March 4 by state police at Lehighton following a vehicle stop along Route 209 in Lehighton.

On the drug count he was fined $250. On the suspension charge and a summary motor vehicle code violation he was fined a total of $475.

Richard Ross Ottman, 19, of Lehighton, pleaded to one count of possession of a small amount of marijuana. He was arrested on Feb. 28 by state police at Lehighton, following a vehicle stop along Route 248.

Nanovic sentenced him to time-served (28 days).

Each defendant sentenced must also pay court costs of about $1,000 and a $50 per month supervision fee while on probation or parole.

DUI charge

James John Sobolewski, 39, of Hazleton, pleaded to one count of driving under the influence of a controlled substance. He was arrested on April 5 by Weatherly police along Main Street. He refused a test.

Sentencing was deferred so Sobolewski can obtain a drug and alcohol evaluation.

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