Elk County Courthouse May

The Elk County Courthouse grounds in Ridgway are awash with blossoms in the Spring

ELK COUNTY--The first Return Day for the 59th Judicial District took place on Monday in Ridgway. Over forty cases were on the court docket, which began a 9 a.m.

Joseph Sabatose, 57, of Dubois, pled guilty to two separate third-degree felony charges in one of the first hearings in the morning. Sabatose pled guilty to deceptive or fraudulent business practices and home improvement fraud he committed on a St. Marys couple. He has now paid $4,407 in restitution to the victims and was sentenced to 24 months of probation for each count to run concurrently (meaning at the same time) over the next few years. He will also have to pay the cost of prosecution, $1,000 in fines, and a monthly supervision fee to the Elk County Probation Office of $45 a month.

Desiree Vires, 28, of Ridgway, pled guilty to one count of possession of drug paraphernalia. She was sentenced to six months of probation, fines fees, and the cost of prosecution, which generally runs close to $400.

Rebecca Cristini, 20, of Ridgway, pled guilty to drug paraphernalia charges and, based on her criminal history, was sentenced to 22 days to 12 months in jail with the remaining time on probation; she also was fined $200 and the standard court costs. In a separate case, she pled guilty to obstructing a law enforcement officer and was sentenced to 16 days to 24 months incarcerated with credit for time served of 16 days.

Beverly Jankoski, 59, of Emporium, pled guilty to two separate charges of bad checks that she wrote to Elk County Foods. She has paid $517.94 and $262.35, respectively, on each charge but still owes $100 for the bad check fees. She will also be placed on probation for the next six months with the standard costs and fees.

Austin Krone, 26, of Union City, received 28 days to 12 months incarcerated, with credit for time served for pleading guilty to one count of drug paraphernalia.

Martin Andrew Chicola, 32, of Erie, also pled guilty to possession of drug paraphernalia and received six months of probation after completing a voluntary, in-patient rehabilitation program.

John W. Hutchins, 46, of St. Marys, pled guilty to his second offense DAI (Driving After imbibing, PA's term for the more common DUI of Driving Under the Influence), and received the standard five days of incarceration in the Elk County Prison, $1000 fine, fees, court costs and the remaining time spent under the supervision of the Elk County Probation Department.

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 for one year, the court will impose specific requirements that they must complete within that time. If the requirements are met 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 into the program on Monday were Adam Hasselman, MacKenzie Miller, Abby O'Rourke, and Shawn Winsor.

Two of the four Clearfield residents charged in connection with an arson in Johnsonburg, Elk County, in July 2019 appeared in Elk County Court on Monday, though all four were on the docket.

Joshua Quigley, 41, is charged with one count each of arson-danger of death or bodily injury, a first-degree felony; arson-intent collect insurance, a second-degree felony; recklessly endangering another person, a second-degree misdemeanor; dangerous burning, an ungraded summary offense; risking a catastrophe, a felony of the third degree; false insurance claim a third-degree felony; falsely report-falsely incriminate another person second-degree misdemeanor; conspiracy arson-danger of death or bodily injury first-degree felony; conspiracy arson-intent collect insurance, a second-degree felony; and conspiracy-false/fraud/income insurance claim, a third-degree felony. Quigley is currently being held in the United States Federal Prison System and, despite a request from both his lawyer and the Elk County Court, was not released to appear for this court case.

Ray Morgan Jr., 28, is charged with one count each of conspiracy-false fraud/income insurance claim (F3); conspiracy-risking catastrophe (F3); conspiracy-recklessly endangering another person (M2); conspiracy-arson-danger of death or bodily injury (F1); and conspiracy-arson-intent collect insurance (F2).

Samantha Weber, 23, is charged with one count each of conspiracy-arson-danger of death or bodily injury (F1); conspiracy-arson-intent collect insurance (F2); conspiracy-false/fraud/income insurance claim (F3); conspiracy-risking catastrophe (F3); conspiracy-recklessly endangering another person (M2); and conspiracy-false report-falsely incriminate another (M2).

Alisha Goodrow, 22, is charged with one count each of conspiracy-arson-danger of death or bodily injury (F1); conspiracy-arson-intent collect insurance (F2); conspiracy-false/fraud/income insurance claim (F3); conspiracy-risking catastrophe (F3); and conspiracy-recklessly endangering another person (M2).

For all defendants in the Johnsonburg arson, the cases were continued until the June 3 Return Day in Elk County.

Joseph Patrick Grisewood, 28, of Belmont, NY, pled guilty to his second offense DAI and received the standard five days of incarceration in the Elk County Prison, $1000 fine, fees, court costs, and the remaining time spent under the supervision of the Elk County Probation Department.

David Clyde, 46, of Carnegie, PA, pled guilty to the single charge of bad checks, a misdemeanor of the first degree. He has already paid $2,328 in restitution and will also have to pay fines, fees, and the cost of prosecution, totaling over $400 over the next two months.

Ryan Lindgren, 31, of Ridgway, pled guilty to his second offense DAI and received the standard five days of incarceration in the Elk County Prison, $1000 fine, fees, court costs, and the remaining time spent under the supervision of the Elk County Probation Department.

Michal Leightley, 40, of Emporium, pled guilty to two separate cases on Monday. He is now banned from the Goodwill Store in St. Marys due to his latest arrest on retail theft, with six other convictions on shoplifting charges. He also pled guilty to possession of a controlled substance, in this case, Benzodiazepine. In addition to the fines, fees, and court costs, he will spend the next two years on Probation for each case to run concurrently.

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