Archive for category robert steinberg

More guilty pleas in planned armed invasion of judge’s home

A man serving time for third-degree murder will spend more time behind bars for helping with the plan.

A man serving what he called a fair sentence in a murder case was close to …

Inmate allegedly planned burglary of judge’s home to get out of prison

Prosecutors say the burglary was actually a plot by a state prison inmate to lessen his sentence.

For at least two years, Efrain “Baby” Miranda III wrote letters to law enfo…

Woman, jailed in Easton stabbing, twice in 2014 faced Lehigh County charges, court records show

The 22-year-old, who police say is from New York, two times is arrested in Allentown and is on probation at the time of Thursday’s crime, court records say.

easton police cruiserView full sizeEaston police charge a woman with stabbing her boyfriend on Christmas. But it wasn’t the first Lehigh Valley charges she’s faced in file photo 

The condition of the man stabbed by his girlfriend early Christmas morning in a home on Easton‘s South Side is unchanged, city police reported Friday morning.

The man, who court papers say is Georgie Allie, 22, was in “very serious condition” on Thursday, Lt. Matthew Gerould said.

Spokeswoman at Lehigh Valley and St. Luke’s University hospitals said they had no information on Allie.

The 22-year-old Bronx, New York, woman charged in the stabbing was not as unfamiliar with the Lehigh Valley as the description of her as a visitor with her boyfriend in the 100 block of Lachenour Avenue. (The exact address is 155 Lachenour, according to a listing of police, fire or EMS responses from Northampton County emergency dispatch.)

Vidanti Charles twice faced charges earlier this year in Lehigh County, according to court papers.

On April 21, she pleaded guilty to being drunk in public on March 1 in Allentown, court records say. She served two days from April 16-18 in Lehigh County Jail on that charge, court records show. She was already being held in the jail on unrelated charges.

In between the drunkenness charge and the plea, Charles was charged March 27 by Allentown police with possession with intent to deliver drugs and possession of a controlled substance, court records say.

She pleaded guilty May 16 to the possession with intent to deliver charge and the other drug charge was dropped by Judge Robert Steinberg, court papers say. Charles was sentenced to 49 days — which was time served — to 23 months in jail, and was released that day, court and prison records show. She had been in prison since March 27, when she wasn’t able to pay a $10,000 bail.

It’s 50 days from March 27 to May 16.

Charles also received 12 months probation and was paying court costs — the most recent payment of $120 made Dec. 18, court papers show. The county in an action begun May 27 and completed July 15 confiscated $577 in cash previously found on Charles and crack cocaine was ordered destroyed, court papers say.

She was arraigned Christmas Day on charges — related to the 4:15 a.m. stabbing — of attempted homicide, aggravated assault and recklessly endangering another person and sent to Northampton County Prison in lieu of $250,000 bail, police said. She remained jailed Friday morning, online records show.

No new trial for Allentown security guard who fatally shot unarmed man, court rules

Andrew Gesslein II was convicted by a Lehigh County jury in the fatal shooting of Michael Maurice ‘O Head’ Randolph.

A state appeals court has rejected granting a new trial for the Allentown security guard convicted by a jury of shooting to death an unarmed man.

Andrew Gesslein II was convicted by a Lehigh County jury in the fatal shooting of Michael Maurice “O Head” Randolph. Gesslein has maintained he shot Randolph in self-defense in April 2012, after Randolph forced his way into the after-hours North End Republican Club.

Lehigh County Judge Robert Steinberg sentenced Gesslein to five to 10 years in prison for voluntary manslaughter, the lowest possible sentence, then later granted Gesslein a new trial.

The judge said he based his decision to grant a new trial on “truly extraordinary circumstances,” arguing that prosecutors did not disprove Gesslein’s claim of self-defense beyond a reasonable doubt.

Prosecutors appealed the new trial, arguing the judge placed himself as the “13th juror” in concluding the verdict was against the weight of the evidence.

In a 26-page opinion released Monday, the state Superior Court ruled Gesslein should not have a new trial, but that he should be resentenced and sent the case back to the Lehigh County for that purpose.

“It appears that the trial court improperly undertook the function of the jury, assigning its own weight to the Commonwealth’s evidence and its own credibility determinations as to the witnesses’ testimony. Further, our review of the record discloses that the trial court’s reasons for granting a new trial are not supported by the evidence,” the opinion says.

Randolph was shot three times in the back. Gesslein claimed Randolph reached for a gun, but authorities found no gun on his body. Gesslein, who worked for the Eye in the Sky security firm, was licensed to carry a gun but was not supposed to be armed for that job.

At that hearing, Steinberg said Randolph bore “some responsibility here.”

“Let’s not say Michael Randolph was this wonderful citizen, because he’s not,” Steinberg said.

While attorneys waited for the upper court to decide those issues, Gesslein was granted bail but was never able to post the 10 percent of $250,000 and remained in state prison. Judge Kelly Banach ruled he could not use real estate as collateral for the bail.

When Gesslein was granted bail, he told the judge “I am very confident when this goes to trial things are going to come to light that didn’t come out the first time.”

Sarah Cassi may be reached at Follow her on Twitter @SarahCassi. Find Allentown news on our Facebook page.

Victim filmed in shower by Allentown man: ‘I have no sense of safety’

Gregory Steckroth was in court to be sentenced for filming the young woman and then returning to the South Whitehall home 10 days later.

View full sizeAn Allentown man pleaded gu…

Caregiver gets prison for assaulting former patient’s elderly widow in Bethlehem

Authorities say she doused the 77-year-old victim with pepper spray and hit her over the head with a potted plant and two vases.

An ex-caregiver who violently assaulted and robbed the elderly widow of one of her former patients will spend up to two decades behind bars.

Lastasha Serrano, who was found guilty of multiple robbery and assault charges after a trial in May, was sentenced today to nine to 20 years in Pennsylvania State Prison.

The 25-year-old Serrano visited the Bethlehem apartment of 77-year-old Margaret Weber on Sept. 28 and asked to use the phone, claiming her car broke down while she was looking for her sick aunt’s home.

After using the phone, Serrano doused Weber with pepper spray, hit her over the head with a potted plant, then broke two vases over her head before stealing cash and jewelry, police said.

“This was a brutal attack against an elderly victim that the defendant chose because she knew what she would be running into,” said Jay Jenkins, Lehigh County chief deputy district attorney.

“She could’ve gone to another house, but she went there because she knew she was going to run into an elderly person,” Jenkins said.

Serrano, who also goes by the name Latasha, apologized to the victim during her sentencing today before Judge Robert Steinberg, according to her public defender, Karen Schular. Several family members also testified on her behalf.

Serrano today also pleaded guilty to theft charges stemming from a separate Bethlehem home robbery, this time against one of Serrano’s own former patients, Jenkins said.

In that case, Serrano visited the woman’s house, was invited in for a chat, then asked to use the bathroom, but instead stole jewelry from the victim’s bedroom, Jenkins said.

Serrano was originally expected to face trial starting Monday on those charges, but she instead pleaded guilty the same time as her sentencing today, he said.

Steinberg sentenced Serrano to nine to 36 months in prison for those charges, but that time will run simultaneously with the nine-to-20-year sentence for the assault case, Jenkins said.

Weber needed 12 staples due to her injuries — seven on her head and five for a cut behind her ear — that left blood splatters and blood around her apartment.

During the trial in May, Weber recalled the fear she experienced during the assault, saying she tried to dial 911 from a house phone, but that Serrano saw it and ripped it “right off the wall.”

“I still kept fighting because I was fighting for my life,” Weber said.

After attacking Weber, Serrano dragged her into the bedroom and demanded $2,000 in cash, claiming she owed someone money, police said. Serrano left the apartment with $1,286 in cash and about $2,000 in jewelry.

Contact Allentown reporter Colin McEvoy at 484-894-2549 or

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