Elk County Courthouse July 2 2021

Between scattered thunderstorms, the Elk County Courthouse and the attached Prison soaked up the July sun on Friday in Ridgway.

RIDGWAY--The Honorable Shawn T. McMahon, President Judge of Elk and Cameron Counties, issued three bench warrants for the first Return Day of July for the 59th Judicial District. A Bench warrant is a court order that judges issue when a person commits contempt of court, such as failing to appear for a scheduled court date. Bench warrants can be issued for both criminal and civil matters and authorize the immediate on-site arrest of the individual subject to the bench warrant. Any persons named should immediately contact their local law enforcement agency to avoid more charges being filed.

Seventy-six cases were on the Return Day docket on Friday as the session began at 8:30 a.m; with 28 of the cases being heard formally while the others were formal arraignments, many of them waived. On a mostly routine day, the case of Tammy Dee Lytle, 51, of Force proved to be the most interesting with the defendant skipping out of her court hearing after meeting with her attorney, and leaving her adult daughter behind.

Tammy Dee Lytle, 51 of Force, formally of Johnsonburg (also known by the aliases of Tammy White and Harry Lee Lytle) did not show up for her 1 p.m. hearing on multiple felony counts of forgery and misdemeanor charges of theft, receiving stolen property, and possessing the instruments of crime. As a condition of her being out on bail, she was also to refrain from accumulating any new criminal charges but picked up new charge drug possession charges in St. Marys in March of this year. She previously had a bench warrant out for her arrest after skipping her Return Day hearing in May of this year.

Lytle is no stranger to law enforcement from the first charges on her record taking place in Erie County in the 1990s, including burglary, criminal conspiracy, and fraudulently obtaining Foodstamps and Assistance. When she moved to Elk County, specifically Johnsonburg she continued with charges of harboring a fugitive, hindering prosecution, forgery, retail theft, drug offenses, driving with a suspended license, forgery, receiving stolen property, and theft of services. Many in Johnsonburg will remember her as the person responsible for passing off numerous counterfeit $100 bills in the area, with additional charges in Butler and Chicora PA.

Lytle's attorney, Jeffrey Stephen Weinberg of Pittsburgh, was present in court on Friday and indicated frustration with the case as Lytle refused to accept the presented plea deal from Elk County District Attorney Thomas Coppolo, which would have included a "global resolution" and include the cases that Lytle has acclimated from other jurisdictions as well. Lytle, with her adult daughter, was present and speaking with Weinberg in the Elk County Courtroom Hallway while other cases were taking place on Friday. Just before her 1 p.m. hearing, Lytle announced that she wanted to take the entire matter before a Jury. Weinberg acquiesced to her wishes and went into the main courtroom along with Lytle's daughter as she excused herself to the restroom. The time for her hearing came and went, and Lytle did not appear. Her daughter went and looked for her and could not locate her in the restrooms. A review of the camera system showed that Lytle left the restrooms moments after she entered after seeing her daughter and attorney walk into the courtroom and exited the Courthouse. Weinberg called the defendant's daughter to testify and she explained that she had no idea where her mother was. With no objection from DA Coppolo or attorney Weinberg Judge McMahon issued a bench warrant for her arrest and revoked her bail. If Lytle is apprehended over the next day or so she will have to spend additional time in Elk County Prison than normal because of the Holiday Weekend and the Court is in recess on Monday, July 5.

Sarah Angeline Petitt, 37, of St. Marys also had a bench warrant taken out and her parole revoked for failing to appear at her 11 a.m. hearing at the Elk County Court on Friday. Petitt was supposed to be pleading to four separate counts of retail theft. Petitt, like Lytle, is no stranger to law enforcement, with over 14 cases on her docket stretching back to 2008. Most of her cases involve retail theft, but as is often the case in crimes of theft there are numerous past drug offenses. Retail theft is the most common charge with eight of her past criminal cases including this charge. Most recently she is accused of stealing wine from the Nittney Mini-Mart and grocery items from Pfaff's Market in St. Marys. With her bail revoked she is subject to immediate arrest and detention.

Jeffrey Wayne Duell Jr, 32 of Coudersport, failed to appear for his 2:30 p.m. hearing on Friday. Duell is also well known to law enforcement, with past charges, and sentences not just in Elk, but additionally in McKean, Potter, Tioga, Bradford, and Blair counties. All of his crimes involve property theft, with the term "kiter" being used for his frequent use of writing bad checks. He was only out on parole from Bradford prison for a few months before receiving these new charges in Elk County. Ridgway-based state police were called to Legends Sport and Turf in St. Marys on May 19, 2020, for a report of a bad check that was written. Duell reportedly wrote a $13, 458.98 personal check from Navy Federal Credit Union for the purchase of a Polaris RZR side-by-side machine. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and his charges in other counties, the case was delayed and continued until this Friday. With his bail revoked Duell is subject to immediate arrest and detention.

ARD stands for “Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition.” It is a program that all Pennsylvania counties are required to have in place for individuals with no criminal record (or a minimal criminal record) who have been charged with relatively minor, non-violent offenses. Once a person is accepted into the ARD Program, their case is essentially placed on “hold” for a period of time. When their case is on hold, typically one year,-the court will impose specific requirements that they must complete within that time. If the requirements are completed by the end of the ARD period, the Court will notify them that their case is eligible to be dismissed entirely and erased from the criminal records. Once their case has been dismissed and expunged, a public record check will not turn up any details regarding the offense. ARD carries substantial fines, fees, and court costs along with strict adherence to probation rules, including no alcohol or drugs and thirty-five hours of community service. Entering the program on Friday were Rachel Ehrensberger, Kevin Frey, John Hoffman, Wesley Guziewicz, Shajuan Carrero, and Vanessa Catchot Hays.

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