BY ROBERT L. BAKER
Wyoming County Press Examiner
A 32-year-old Tunkhannock woman received a sentence of 12 months intermediate punishment Wednesday for a host of charges including assaulting the Meshoppen Borough Police Chief in 2010.
At her guilty plea in March, President Judge Russell Shurtleff had said that Melissa LaValley’s maximum sentence for all four charges could have been 24 years in prison and $35,000 in fines.
On Friday, Pennsylvania Deputy Attorney General Anthony Wayne Forray said his office was brought into the case after there appeared to be a potential conflict of interest in charges against local law enforcement officials.
Forray said Friday that after four hours of interviews with Lavalley, it was clear that charges of excessive force were unfounded.
Forray said serious allegations that she had been abused turned out not to be true.
According to court papers Lavalley encountered Meshoppen Chief John Krieg and state police corporal Bradley Shatinsky at Route 6 Auto Body on Nov. 26, 2010, and told her she could not remove her car from the lot.
She allegedly hit Chief Krieg right under his right eye, and then kicked him.
That same day, she also allegedly broke into AppleWagon Antiques.
And in the charge from Feb. 22, papers show she had acquired by deception 20 oxicodone tablets.
Forray said that in 25 years of investigative work, “It is not often that I have been fooled.”
But, he added, “As the court is well aware, she went into a downward spiral” and he later recognized there was some sort of drug involvement.
Three individuals took the witness stand to plead for a lenient sentence for LaValley.
First up was her husband Tom who acknowledged across eight years of marriage there were a lot of problems that he felt had “medical reasons.” He said that in the past year he had seen a change in his wife that was an inspiration to him.
LaValley’s mother, Teri Brewer, also took the stand, and said the only thing her daughter ever wanted was to be a school teacher, and that was taken away from her after all that unfolded over the last couple of years.
“I worry about her,” she told the judge, “and I ask that you have mercy on her.”
A counselor at A Better Today in Tunkhannock also took the stand and acknowledged the progress LaValley made, noting “she wants to be a better person.”
LaValley also addressed the judge telling him, “I have made an effort to do everything I could do to change.”
On a felony charge of criminal attempt to obtain controlled substance by misrepresentation, Judge Shurtleff sentenced LaValley to 12 months Intermediate Punishment with 90 days electronic monitoring.
On each of the additional three misdemeanor charges of simple assault, retail theft and false swearing in official matters, she receieved the exact same sentence, with all terms to be served concurrently.
With the simple assault there was additional restitution of $1,365 and with the retail theft, there was also additional restitution of $1,365.