Obstruction Charge Added To Counts Against Suspended Duryea Police Sergeant
SCRANTON — Prosecutors today added a count of obstruction of justice against a Duryea police sergeant charged with interfering in a crash investigation in Old Forge to get his wife off the hook for driving with a suspended license. Michael Rosemellia, 33, 601 New St., Duryea, appeared Tuesday in Lackawanna County Central Court to waive his right to a preliminary hearing on charges he lied on a claim filed to their insurance company and invoked his authority as an officer to hamper a police investigation. As that happened, authorities amended the complaint against him to add the misdemeanor obstruction of justice charge to counts of false insurance claims, a felony, and official oppression, a misdemeanor. Rosemellia’s attorney, Tom Killino, said they disagree with the prosecution and Rosemellia is eager to put the charges behind him. Killino confirmed that Rosemellia’s defense attorneys are in active plea negotiations with the district attorney’s office and hinted that “there’s a lot more than meets the eye” to this case. He declined to elaborate on either point. After Old Forge police filed charges in July, Duryea placed Rosemellia on suspension with pay. Duryea Mayor Keith Moss declined to comment Tuesday, saying it was a personnel matter. Messages left for the borough manager and the borough’s solicitor were not returned. Killino said Rosemellia’s suspension was changed to a leave of absence. Old Forge police charged Rosemellia in July. In a complaint filed by Officer Matthew Brown, authorities accused Rosemellia of traveling to a traffic accident May 18 where his wife, Michele Rosemellia, was involved and using his position to help her get out of facing charges for driving with a suspended license. The other driver involved in the accident, Lawrence Papi, told Brown that Michael Rosemellia showed up several minutes after the collision, flashed his badge and said he was a police officer and would take care of the accident. Papi was confused but trusted him since he identified himself as a police officer. No official police report was made because the department was not contacted. Rosemellia submitted a claim to Erie Insurance where he said his mother-in-law had been driving at the time. Rosemellia denied the allegations in an interview with investigators. The act of taking out his badge during his interaction with Papi, while not new information, formed the basis for the new obstruction charge. District Attorney Mark Powell said in a message that obstruction is an appropriate charge. “Police will be held to the same standard as everyone else and prosecuted when they break the law,” Powell said. Contact the writer: firstname.lastname@example.org, 570-348-9144; @jkohutTT on Twitter.