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ARD program runs gamut of cases, while some are withdrawn before acceptance

September 7, 2018

Charges were with withdrawn Wednesday by the district attorney against a former Berlin Brothersvalley school employee accused of stealing $3,361 from a PTSO account.

Heather Nicole Twombly, 35, of Berlin, was originally offered Accelerated Rehabilitation Disposition program status but District Attorney Lisa Lazzari-Strasiser offered Twombly a 586 settlement under the Pennsylvania Rules of Criminal Procedure.

“If she paid all of the money back to Berlin Brothersvalley PTSO plus applicable court costs prior to ARD acceptance, which she did at the clerk of courts office yesterday,” according to her attorney Jaclyn Nichols of Somerset. “The ‘victims’ have been made whole in this case and, the charges against her have been dismissed.”

The ARD program offers a second chance to first-time offenders by diverting them from the criminal justice system, based on a recommendation by the district attorney. When a defendant is accepted into the program, the prosecution suspends the charges but requires that person to follow certain court-ordered conditions.

Once the program has been competed, the criminal charges are dismissed and the offender may — 30 days after the program’s completion — ask the court to expunge, or erase, the arrest record. In certain cases, a condition for admission into the program prohibits the defendant from having his or her record cleared.

Leah Peight, 66, of Berlin, was placed in the ARD program Wednesday, for six months, on a charge of sale or delivery of a controlled substance that has been adulterated or misbranded. She must perform 20 hours of community service.

She is accused of giving a woman a pill to expedite labor at an unlicensed birthing center in her home on March 27, 2017.

Police were called to Somerset Hospital to investigate the death of a newborn baby. The woman said she delivered the child in Peight’s birthing center in the basement of her Brotherton Road home. During the birth, Peight administered a pill that she said was intended to move the delivery along, the parents told police. The pill was misoprostol. The prescription medicine was placed in a bottle labelled for a herbal supplement.

Initially, she also was charged with unlawful acts/not licensed as a pharmacist.

Of the 97 defendants listed for consideration for the ARD program Wednesday, 47 were accepted into the program, including 40 who were charged with driving under the influence and related charges. The remaining seven ran the gamut from possession of a small amount of marijuana for personal use to theft by unlawful taking. Fifty cases were continued or differed.

Alex Grumbling, of Windber, was placed in the program based on a theft charge. He must complete 12 months in the program and 20 community service hours.

The 23-year-old is accused of damaging a medication dispenser in the ambulatory surgery unit at Chan Soon-Shiong Medical Center at Windber on May 9 and taking 63 tablets of a controlled substance. He was a member of the cleaning staff at the time, according to court documents.

The ARD program is not free. A defendant must pay for services provided as well as any restitution. The cost is usually well over $1,000. The next ARD hearing date is Dec. 5.

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