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Westmoreland

Prosecutors aim to keep missing Unity woman's acquaintance jailed

Rich Cholodofsky
| Wednesday, April 18, 2018, 12:06 p.m.
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.
Thomas G. Stanko
WPXI
Thomas G. Stanko

Westmoreland County prosecutors filed court documents Wednesday aimed at keeping the acquaintance of a missing Unity woman in jail.

Thomas George Stanko, 57, is in the county jail after being unable to post bail on unrelated charges filed against him in the last week.

Stanko has denied involvement in the disappearance of Cassandra E. Gross, 51, who has been missing since April 7. No arrests have been made, but police have searched two Unity properties belonging to Stanko, as well as a pond and an area near Twin Lakes Park.

Pittsburgh attorney David Shrager has identified Stanko as Gross' “boyfriend.” Her mother has told the Tribune-Review that she gave police the name of a man who had been bothering her daughter for the past few months. The pair were not in a relationship, the mother said. She declined to name the man.

Wednesday's court filing seeks to revoke Stanko's pretrial release for simple assault charges filed against him in 2017. Police arrested Stanko for punching a man at The Tin Lizzy bar in Youngstown, knocking out several of the victims' false teeth, according to court paperwork.

Stanko was jailed last week on $100,000 bond after police charged him with possession of a stolen ATV found on his property. He is scheduled to appear before District Judge Michael Mahady on Monday for a preliminary hearing.

Stanko also was charged with weapons offenses after police found 28 guns at his mother's home, including two that were reported as stolen. Police found the guns as they searched his home as part of an investigation into Glass' whereabouts.

Shrager has said he believes those guns were mostly owned by Stanko's deceased father.

Police said Stanko was barred from owning any firearms as part of a plea deal stemming from a 1993 case in which he was charged with shooting at a former state police trooper's home in Latrobe. Stanko pleaded guilty in 1995 to retaliation and intimidation against a witness and was sentenced to serve 14 12 to 29 months in prison.

According to court documents, Assistant District Attorney Pete Flanigan said Stanko's pretrial release for last year's simple assault arrest should be revoked because of the two new criminal charges filed against him. Stanko had been free on $500 unsecured bail in that case.

Stanko is scheduled to appear Thursday morning before Mahady for an arraignment on the weapons charges.

Gross' red 2016 Mitsubishi Outlander was spotted April 10 by Norfolk Southern railroad employees along tracks in a wooded area near Twin Lakes Park. The SUV had been burned almost beyond recognition.

Police are seeking information from anyone who may have seen Gross' SUV in the Twin Lakes area or any other unusual activity. The license plate is HLP-1411.

Anyone with information is asked to call state police in Greensburg at 724-832-3288 or 911.

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

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