Diebold's estranged wife 'livid' about short sentence in sex solicitation case
As one woman counts down the days until Leechburg’s suspended police chief Michael Diebold is released from prison, another wishes she could add more time to his sentence.
Michael Diebold, 41, pleaded guilty Tuesday to soliciting sex from an undercover agent posing as a teenager. He was sentenced to serve nine to 23 months in jail, with three years of probation, by Westmoreland County Judge Meagan Bilik-DeFazio.
His estranged wife Danielle Reinke, 38, and mother Karen Diebold were both in attendance Tuesday as Michael Diebold entered his guilty plea while handcuffed and dressed in navy jail garb.
For Reinke, the plea deal brought in a wave of “mixed emotions” she said.
“The part I’m not happy about is the sentence,” Reinke said. “That’s the court guidelines, which honestly makes me want to fight for tougher laws on sex offenders, because that is shocking that somebody can get 9-23 months for trying to solicit sex from a 14-year-old.”
Reinke said she felt as though she may “pass out” when she first caught a glimpse of her estranged husband.
“When he came into the room, I noticed he looked like he’s being well fed living off of the taxpayer’s dime,” Reinke said on seeing Michael Diebold in person. “The last time I saw him was last May.”
Given time served already, Diebold will be eligible for probation on Jan. 28, according to defense attorney Duke George.
Although Diebold had maintained his innocence and was awaiting trial since his arrest in January, his mother, Karen Diebold, said her son pleaded guilty to “get out of jail.”
“Nobody would want their son or daughter in jail for any length of time,” Karen Diebold said.
“As a mom, I’m extremely happy,” Karen Diebold said during an interview from the family-owned business, Dan’s Appliance, in Leechburg. “He wants out of jail. He hopes he can get across to people that he is apologetic to both of the families he has put through this.”
Michael Diebold is barred from using any form of social media and the internet, unless it’s for work and Karen Diebold confirmed her son will return to work at the appliance store upon his release from prison, which she said will be at 10 a.m. on Jan. 28, 2019.
When asked if she feels having her son employed at Dan’s, in business 35 years, could negatively affect business due to the high profile nature of her son’s arrest, Karen was nonplussed.
“They (sales) haven’t decreased one bit,” she said.
Diebold pleaded guilty to felony charges of statutory sexual assault, attempted statutory sexual assault, unlawful restraint and criminal use of a communications device.
“It’s a lot to take in,” Reinke said. “It’s a victory that he is a sex offender for 25 years and a felon for life — that is a huge huge victory, so I am thrilled with that.”
Michael Diebold will remain in administrative custody at the Westmoreland County Prison and will not transfer to the general population, said Karen Diebold.
“I’m not crying out of sadness, I’m crying because I am ticked — I am livid,” Danielle Reinke said when asked if she is concerned about Michael Diebold’s January release date.
Reinke said she wished her ex would have had his day in court.
“I know that there’s not a doubt in my mind he would have been found guilty in a trial,” she said.
Reinke said she was informed by the state Attorney General’s Office in August about “thousands” of Craiglist dating ads placed by husband.
“The AG told me about the ads in detail and they were horrifying. I was made aware of evidence in the North Huntington AG office where Michael was using extremely sexually graphic language online to solicit sex from an underage agent and several other adult women. Reading this evidence gave me closure. It was everything I needed in order to make decisions for the kids and myself. From that day, there was no turning back and there was no doubt he was a threat, a predator, and guilty.”
Joyce Hanz is a freelance writer.