CLEARFIELD – During plea and sentencing court on Monday, President Judge Fredric J. Ammerman expressed his frustration with the plea agreements offered by the district attorney’s office.
The first case he was unhappy with, was a time-served plea for Scott Allen Garvey, 51, of Falls Creek, who had been charged with aggravated assault, felony strangulation, two counts of simple assault, recklessly endangering another person and terroristic threats.
The plea only included the misdemeanor terroristic threats and recklessly endangering another person charges.
Ammerman read a letter from the victim saying that she wanted the aggravated assault charge dropped. He then reviewed the affidavit of probable cause, commenting that it states Garvey choked her and pointed a gun at her.
Garvey’s attorney, William A. Shaw Jr., said he thought the affidavit was “misleading” and didn’t think he had pointed a gun at her.
First District Attorney Leanne Nedza noted that the victim wasn’t happy to be at the preliminary hearing in this case, but wanted him to be held accountable for his actions.
This victim was also asking that she be allowed to have contact with him.
Ammerman eventually sentenced Garvey to six days to one year in the jail with three years concurrent probation.
According to that affidavit, on May 7 in Falls Creek, Garvey got into an argument with the victim during which he choked her on two different occasions. She also told police he pointed a shotgun at her while she was in the bathroom.
Another case involving a gun was also a problem for Ammerman.
Philip Paul Tabone, 72, of DuBois was originally charged with misdemeanor counts of simple assault, recklessly endangering another person and disorderly conduct.
He was required to plead guilty to only the disorderly conduct charge with a probation sentence.
After reviewing this affidavit, Ammerman noted that the case also involved the defendant pulling a gun and pointing it at the victim.
“Now people point a gun at someone and only get charged with disorderly conduct and get only probation?” he asked.
Ammerman told Nedza that the DA’s office needs “to take care of business,” and shouldn’t wait until the last minute to handle cases and just plead them out.
Tabone’s plea was then rejected, putting the case back on the trial list.
According to that affidavit, on Oct. 4, 2020, Tabone approached a man mowing grass on his property. The man told him he was mowing for the tenant, but Tabone yelled and swore at him to get off his property. When the victim said no, Tabone pulled a gun and pointed it at him.
As he called 911, Tabone drove off. A witness reportedly confirmed the story.
In a third case, Ammerman rejected a plea for probation in a case involving an auto accident that broke a bicyclist’s leg. The driver then left the scene.
Brian E. Kessler, 52, of Clearfield is charged with misdemeanor counts of accidents involving death or personal injury, accidents involving damage to attended vehicle and six summaries including failure to stop and render aid and failure to notify police of accident.
Even though it was noted that the victim was happy with the plea, Ammerman, as with the other cases, didn’t think it was appropriate.
“I am just going to start rejecting these.”
According to that affidavit, on Oct. 21, a vehicle driven by Kessler struck a man on a bike near the entrance of Walmart in Lawrence Township.
Prior to the accident, the occupants of a vehicle following his car noticed the SUV swerving all over the roadway. These two witnesses told police they saw the vehicle strike the man, knocking him off the bike. The driver didn’t stop but instead continued on to the store.
They were able to give officers a complete description of the vehicle and the license plate. They reported that it was still in the lot and the driver, a man wearing a green hoodie, had gone into the store.
The officers found the empty SUV, which had scratch marks on the side of the front bumper matching the bike, in the lot. It also had possible rubber marks from the rear tire of the bike and the passenger side mirror was folded into the vehicle.
After the owner was identified by the license plate, she was contacted and able to confirm Kessler was using the SUV.
Police entered the store but were unable to find the driver and when they returned to the lot, the vehicle was gone.
Officers next checked his residence in Clearfield Borough where they found the vehicle.
Police say on the passenger seat was a Walmart bag with a soda bottle in it and a gift card was in the cup holder.
They were unable to make contact with Kessler at that location.
While checking the video surveillance footage from the store, investigators discovered that a man matching the description given of the driver had purchased a soda and a gift card.
The footage also revealed that when he left the store, he walked across the rear part of the lot to avoid police.
Hospital records indicate that the victim had two bones broken in his left leg and had an abrasion on his right leg, according to the report.