Last updated: May 12. 2014 11:37PM - 4148 Views
By Roger DuPuis rdupuis@civitasmedia.com

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WILKES-BARRE — Despite a previous request for an out-of-town jury, a full panel of local jurors was chosen Monday to hear the theft case against towing contractor Leo A. Glodzik III.
Glodzik, 43, faces two theft counts following investigation into allegations that he stole $2,100 from a vehicle he towed which was part of a drug arrest in January 2013.
His trial is scheduled to open at 9:30 a.m. today before Luzerne County Judge Lesa S. Gelb.
Defense attorney Joseph Sklarosky Sr. on Wednesday filed a petition with Gelb seeking a change of venire request, arguing that “saturation” media coverage of Glodzik's legal troubles has permeated the local jury pool.
A change of venire is not the same thing as a change of venue, in which the location of the trial itself would be moved. Venire, derived from a Latin word, refers to the pool of prospective jurors.
But Gelb on Monday denied the motion, and after a long day of questioning jurors, 10 men and two women from the county were chosen for the panel, with two more women serving as alternates.
Glodzik's firm, LAG Towing, had an exclusive, $50,050 annual towing contract with the city. Leighton announced the suspension of that contract the same day Glodzik was charged with theft last May.
Sklarosky, in his venire request last week, wrote that the FBI commenced an investigation on LAG's business practices based on what Task Force Officer Daniel Mimnaugh “deemed to be an overcharge for the tow of his father-in-law's vehicle.”
He went on to state that “no charges were ever filed against (Glodzik) for bilking customers,” he writes, adding that the FBI “then turned their attention to Wilkes-Barre Mayor Thomas Leighton, members of the Wilkes-Barre Police Department and other city officials, thinking that the defendant had incriminating information against these people.”
“When they were not able to arrest Mayor Leighton or other officials, they then brought the current charges against the defendant,” Sklarosky wrote.
When such allegations were first made during Glodzik's preliminary hearing last August, the mayor's office released a statement saying that “Mayor Leighton and (Police Chief Gerry) Dessoye have not done anything wrong.”
The first day of Glodzik's trial will run only until lunchtime, Gelb said, due to scheduling issues. The proceedings will resume again Wednesday at 9 a.m.
Assistant District Attorney Sam Sanguedolce said the trial possibly could finish Wednesday.

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