Some charges dropped in Liberty drug case
Charges against a Liberty Manor Personal Care Home administrator were withdrawn on Tuesday as two of his employees waived drug charges to court.
William Garvin, 67, of Elizabeth Township was scheduled to go before Glassport Magisterial District Judge Armand A. Martin on charges of drug possession, possession with intent to deliver, theft, receiving stolen property and criminal conspiracy.
Assistant district attorney Bryan Hanlon confirmed that prior to Tuesday's scheduled preliminary hearing, and referred comments to Allegheny County District Attorney's office spokesman Mike Manko.
“After reviewing the case, we determined that based on the evidence we could not sustain a burden of proof against Mr. Garvin and therefore withdrew the charges,” Manko said via email.
Former supervisor, Lori Jarusinsky, 37, of McKeesport, waived two counts of possession of controlled substances, and employee Mary Cherny, 26, of Liberty waived one count of possession on Tuesday afternoon.
Charges of theft, criminal conspiracy and receiving stolen property were withdrawn against both women as part of their waivers.
The police investigation began on March 1 when Cherny reported to police that Jarusinsky stole clonazepam from a patient who had moved out of the care home on Feb. 25. Cherny alleged her supervisor took 96 pills and gave her 102 pills on Feb. 26.
Liberty police Officer Ray Johnson said Cherny was charged because she waited four days to report the incident to police. Cherny surrendered to Johnson 21 tablets believed to be acetaminophen and hydrocodone bitartrate, and 10 pills believed to be Trazondone, according to the criminal complaint. She claimed those pills were given to her by Jarusinsky a few months prior.
Garvin was represented by attorney Michael Pribanic. Attorney Charles LoPresti represented Cherny, and public defender Hannah Akintoye represented Jarusinsky.
“As I have been saying from the beginning, there's simply no evidence that my client, Mr. Garvin, committed any kind of crime whatsoever,” Pribanic said.
He said he contacted the district attorney's office after the last scheduled hearing and asked them to take a look at the case.
“The person I talked to talked with the assistant DA, who's here today, (and the office) agreed to withdraw the charges because there was no basis for them,” Pribanic said.
“Waiving a case to court does not admit guilt, but I think it was the most efficacious way of resolving the case,” LoPresti said. “Quite frankly it's appropriate based on the facts.”
Preliminary hearings were postponed several times, once on April 23 because an officer was unavailable and on June 11 because crime lab results were not available.
“We have thousands upon thousands of cases that hit the department of laboratories, and you have a number of very, very intelligent people down there trying to assess every one of these cases,” LoPresti said. “I'm not complaining about the crime lab. I'm not complaining about the police or the officers that try to get these lab reports. It's a delay. It's sometimes unnecessary. I'm not here to point blame. I'm glad we had the lab report today to move the case forward. It's most important for everybody including my client.”
Liberty police executed search warrants on March 3 at the care home and at Jarusinsky's McKeesport residence.
Johnson said police confiscated 96 clonazepam pills, 98 acetaminophen pills and 10 Vicodin pills from Jarusinsky's home and vehicle.
He said Jarusinsky claimed that, months before the search, Garvin gave her an ex-patient's acetaminophen pills, which had to be obtained by prescription because of the high, 650-milligram dosage.
Officers found 100 acetaminophen and other prescription pills scattered about, and 24 coffee cans of old needles during a March 3 search of the care home. A search the following day brought the total to more than 2,000 pills prescribed to former patients found in Garvin's office and a back room.
Approximately 200 more cans of old syringes were discovered.
The state Department of Public Welfare shut down the care home on March 4 and relocated 29 residents to other facilities or to relatives' homes.
Former Liberty Manor residents or their relatives who have questions may call the DPW at 877-401-8835.
Michael DiVittorio is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-664-9161, ext. 1965, or firstname.lastname@example.org.