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ARD applicants charged with providing false info

Prosecutors say 7 people lied about having past arrests

December 26. 2013 11:31PM

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WILKES-BARRE — Defendants seeking a less severe punishment for various non-violent offenses were charged with providing false information about prior convictions.

Luzerne County detectives say seven people, when completing applications for the Accelerated Rehabilitation Disposition (ARD) program claim they had never been in trouble with the law in their past.

The seven people checked “No” to a question on their ARD applications indicating they had never been arrested, and signed the “Verification” indicating information provided was true. A footnote on the application warns defendants they could face prosecution if they knowingly provide false information.

Background checks revealed the seven had criminal convictions, including three defendants who had gone through the ARD program in the county before.

ARD is a special pre-trial probationary program for first-time, non-violent offenders. Length of an ARD program can be three-months to one-year with community service, small fines and restrictions on alcohol consumption.

Defendants granted ARD can have their first-time, non-violent conviction expunged if they complete the program. ARD is not awarded if a person has a prior conviction, according to state law.

Those charged by detectives with unsworn falsification to authorities:

• Tasnim Zaifrah Branham, 35, Beverly Drive, Edwardsville, was charged with reckless endangerment after Edwardsville police found her passed out after drinking alcohol in her apartment with two girls, 5 and 2, in her care on Feb. 8.

A records check showed Branham was sentenced to one year in the ARD program in 2006 for drunken driving, according to court records.

Branham was sentenced to 18 months probation on two counts of reckless endangerment in July, court records say.

• Christopher Lee Carson, 26, Avoca, was charged with drunken driving after a traffic stop by Avoca police on May 17.

Detectives said Carson was sentenced to two days in jail and three years probation in California for vandalism in 2008.

• William Anthony Cintron, 20, Plymouth, was charged with stealing $1,170 while he was employed at Target in Wilkes-Barre Township in May.

A records check showed Cintron pleaded guilty in Harnett County, N.C., in March 2011 for having a weapon on school property, and pleaded guilty to theft and access device fraud in Luzerne County in 2012.

• Haysha Diaz, 21, Hazleton, was charged by Hazleton police with driving under the influence of marijuana after a crash on Feb. 26. Detectives said Diaz was granted ARD in April 2012 on a theft charge.

• Kimberly Gayle Ladner, 34, Hazleton, was charged by Hazleton police with drunken driving in April. She was sentenced to 72 hours to six months in jail in October. A records check showed Ladner was arrested in Berks County on drug possession charges in 2004 and 2005.

• Amy Marie Lewis, 34, Pittston, was charged by state authorities in October 2012 with food stamp fraud. Detectives said Lewis was sentenced to 18 months to three years in state prison in 2002 on forgery and theft charges.

• Matthew Onzik, 32, Swoyersville, was charged by Forty Fort police with drunken driving after a crash on Wyoming Avenue on Jan. 12. A records check showed Onzik was placed into the ARD program for 12 months in 2005 for drunken driving, and has been arrested on other DUI charges in 2007 and 2008.

Detectives filed the charges against the seven people with District Judge Martin Kane in Wilkes-Barre this week.

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