Associate of alleged Laflin arsonist sentenced on unrelated theft charge

By Patrick Kernan - [email protected] | January 3rd, 2018 2:54 pm - updated: 7:47 pm.

WILKES-BARRE — An associate of the man accused of starting a fire that killed three boys was sentenced to prison time Wednesday, but she was immediately granted parole.

Tyla Griffin, 28, Wilkes-Barre, previously pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor count of retail theft stemming from a September 2016 incident at the Wilkes-Barre Township Walmart.

Ahead of her sentencing, Griffin’s attorney, Joseph Yeager, asked Luzerne County Judge David W. Lupas for leniency since Griffin is seven months pregnant.

Lupas sentenced Griffin to two to 15 months in prison. But he gave her credit for the time she served in prison between her Oct. 26 arrest and Wednesday, which amounts to more than the minimum term.

Lupas made Griffin immediately eligible for parole.

However, she will be back in the Luzerne County Courthouse soon.

On Jan. 18, she and Preston Bonnett, 27, of Wilkes-Barre, will appear before Luzerne County Judge Joseph F. Sklarosky Jr. on numerous charges stemming from an alleged credit-card counterfeiting scheme.

According to police, Griffin and Bonnett had a device used to make fraudulent credit cards along with some counterfeit cards in the Laflin home of Susan Major over the summer.

Griffin had been staying with Major, but when Major discovered the device, she kicked the pair out of the home, according to court records.

Both Bonnett and Griffin were charged with two felony fraud counts along with numerous misdemeanors in the credit-card case.

On Oct. 25, Major’s home was intentionally set on fire, police say, killing her three children: Ezekiel Major, 7, Devon Major, 12, and Erik Dupree, 16.

Bonnett was identified by police as the primary suspect after Dupree identified him by name in his initial 911 call before his death, records say.

Security footage also shows Bonnett at the scene, according to authorities.

Bonnett was charged with three counts of criminal homicide and three counts of arson. He has a formal arraignment set for Friday before Luzerne County Judge Michael T. Vough.

By Patrick Kernan

[email protected]

Reach Patrick Kernan at 570-991-6386 or on Twitter @PatKernan