NANTICOKE — The hit-and-run involving the president of Luzerne County Community College will be looked into by an attorney hired by the school’s board, The Times Leader has confirmed.
Thomas Leary, 62, pleaded guilty to a summary offense and paid $407 in fines related to the Nov. 2 accident in the parking lot of Theo’s Metro restaurant on Mercer Avenue.
He said he had not been drinking alcoholic beverages that night. But, in contrast to the police report, he also said he did not know he hit a parked car with the 2013 Honda Accord that the school provides for him.
The board brought on attorney Jarrett Ferentino early in February and approved his hiring Thursday at a rate of $195 an hour, The Times Leader has confirmed.
Ferentino on Saturday said he was hired as a private attorney for a personnel matter because there was a conflict with the school’s solicitor.
“I can’t confirm whether or not it’s to address the (Leary) matter,” Ferentino said.
He is with the law firm Pugliese, Finnegan, Shaffer & Ferentino LLC in Kingston and also is a Luzerne County assistant district attorney.
A week after the accident Leary told a Times Leader reporter that he received a call the night that it happened from someone telling him he might have brushed a car. He said he then contacted the restaurant and left his contact information.
But the report prepared by Sgt. Thomas McTague of the Kingston Municipal Police Department said a witness reported the occupants of the Honda switched seats after the accident. The report also said two witnesses saw the occupants get out of the car, look at the damage done to a Volkswagen Jetta, get back in and drive off. The Volkswagen, parked in the lot by a teenage girl who works at the restaurant, had significant damage and was moved when struck by the Honda.
The report said one of the witnesses identified Leary as the driver and provided police the license plate number. Police went to Leary’s house on Church Street, but no one would answer the door. Leary’s car was parked nearby and had visible damage.
The school director of security Bill Barrett, former chief of the Wilkes-Barre Police Department, called Kingston Police about the accident. Barrett said he was not trying to exert any influence on the investigation and called because he is responsible for vehicle usage policies at the school. He said Leary phoned him on Nov. 3 and advised him that after he got a call from the restaurant’s owner he checked his car and realized he hit something. The officer told Barrett to have Leary come to the Kingston police station with his vehicle insurance and registration.
Leary went to the police department on Nov. 5 and spoke with McTague. He told the officer, “I assure you I am the only person that drives my car.” When asked about witness statements that his son was driving that night, Leary told the officer, that his son was standing outside the car because cars in the lot were parked close together. Leary said he backed up, hit the other car, pulled forward and backed up again to let his son in.