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Westmoreland

Family's $25K not enough to free Unity man jailed in missing woman case

Rich Cholodofsky
| Wednesday, May 16, 2018, 3:15 p.m.
Thomas G. Stanko
WPXI
Thomas G. Stanko
Thomas G. Stanko is escorted by sheriff's deputies after his hearing at the Westmoreland County Courthouse in Greensburg on Tuesday, April 17, 2018.
Dan Speicher | Tribune-Review
Thomas G. Stanko is escorted by sheriff's deputies after his hearing at the Westmoreland County Courthouse in Greensburg on Tuesday, April 17, 2018.

Two bags stuffed with $25,000 in cash brought to the Westmoreland County Courthouse on Wednesday wasn't enough to free a man suspected in the case of a Unity woman missing for more than a month.

Thomas G. Stanko, 47, has been in jail since April 13 after state police charged him with receiving stolen property for allegedly possessing a stolen all-terrain vehicle.

He was arrested the following week on unrelated weapons charges in which police alleged he illegally had 28 firearms at his mother's home. A judge later dismissed those charges.

Investigators found the ATV and guns while searching a White Fence Lane home that Stanko owns and where his mother lives in connection with the disappearance of Cassandra Gross, a woman acquainted with Stanko.

Gross, 51, of Unity was last seen April 7. Her burned-out sport-utility vehicle was found near Twin Lakes Park on April 10.

Stanko has denied any involvement in Gross' disappearance. He has not been charged with any crimes in connection with that case.

Stanko remains in the county jail, however, on the stolen property charge. Authorities also are attempting to revoke his probation and parole on a prior drunken-driving and assault conviction.

Stanko's mother, Almira, and a family friend, who declined to be identified, left the courthouse Wednesday without their money or Stanko's freedom.

“We have no comment,” the women said.

They posted two bonds totaling $25,000:

• $20,000 for an assault case in which Stanko is accused of punching a man at a Youngstown bar in July 2017 and knocking out several of the man's false teeth.

• $5,000 on the charge related to the ATV.

Payment of a third bond for $1,000 was rejected, but the money was placed in an escrow account to cover future court costs for Stanko. That bond is related to a January case in which Stanko allegedly failed to have an ignition interlock device in a vehicle he was driving.

State law prevented the Stankos from posting three separate bonds within 30 days, said Valerie Tantlinger, a clerk in the Clerk of Courts office. They were told to find a bail bondsman to post the last $1,000, Tant­linger said.

Clerks initially sent the women away with the bags of cash after they were $1,000 short of the amount needed to post bail in the separate cases. They returned about an hour later with three cashier's checks totaling $26,000.

Even if all three bonds had been posted, Stanko would not have been released from jail, according to Assistant District Attorney Jim Lazar. He continues to be held without bond pending a probation and parole revocation hearing scheduled for May 24 before Common Pleas Judge Christopher Feliciani.

That case involves Stanko's conviction in 2016 for assaulting several people at Unity Cemetery, next to his mother's home.

According to court records, Stanko was sentenced in that case to serve 11½ to 23 months in jail and four years on probation.

Four months after he was released from jail on May 8, 2017, prosecutors sought to revoke Stanko's parole after additional criminal charges were filed against him, court records show.

Rich Cholodofsky is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 724-830-6293 or rcholodofsky@tribweb.com.

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