Agents surprise Binsack in New York
Scott Binsack will spend Thanksgiving behind bars, and most likely away from a keyboard.
The fugitive who taunted pursuers and critics through Facebook and YouTube was caught by surprise in Bath Township, N.Y., by U.S. marshals and other authorities between 9 and 10 p.m. Tuesday at the Budget Inn.
To the end, Binsack continued mocking critics, seemingly unaware.
"Legal actions being filed and those corrupt ones (are) going down," according to a post, purporting to be Binsack on the "Clear Scott Binsack" Facebook page. "Understand this ... no one knows my whereabouts ... Stay tuned for the next post!!"
There was no next post. Binsack was taken into custody moments later.
"We caught him by surprise and he surrendered," said U.S. Marshal Martin J. Pane.
26 days on lam
U.S. marshals assisted in the search and apprehension. The state Department of Probation and Parole is a charter member of the U.S. Fugitive Task Force. Binsack failed to appear for a meeting with parole officials Oct. 25 and was declared an absconder.
While Binsack is not classified a violent offender, Pane said any fugitive can be dangerous insofar as they are desperate.
After 26 days on the lam, Binsack was in the Steuben County Prison, and he is expected to be extradited to Pennsylvania. Within 10 days he will face a first-level hearing to determine if there is probable cause for a violation of the terms of his parole. In this case, his violations may include failing to show up for a meeting with a parole officer, engaging in financial transactions prohibited by the terms of his release and harassment.
What happens next?
Within 120 days of that hearing, he will have a second-level hearing to determine whether he violated parole and what the penalty will be, said Leo Dunn, a spokesman for the state Board of Probation and Parole. Binsack could go back to prison until May 18, 2014, plus any time he was on absconder status.
Binsack has always been an adopter of emerging technology. From prison, he ran a blog and a Twitter account titled "Illegally Searched and Seized" and even sold T-shirts and hats with logos. With new avenues of social networking and the ease of digital video, he launched a number of Facebook pages after his release from prison in April 2011. He used those pages to explain his past and attack those who questioned him in his adopted hometown of Shamokin.
One Facebook post contained a truth. He did file a lawsuit in U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania, stamped the day he was taken into custody. The lawsuit, filed by Berwick attorney Frank Kepner Jr., claims that officials from Shamokin and state Department of Probation and Parole denied Binsack his constitutional rights (See additional story).
The Binsack 'act'
Shamokin City Councilman R. Craig Rhoades, who is named in Binsack's federal lawsuit, said he was pleased to learn of his capture.
"Now, we let justice take its course. I have faith in the judicial system that things will work out," he said.
Shamokin City Police Chief Ed Griffiths, also named in the suit, said he knew it would only be a matter of time until he was caught. Griffiths, who is on vacation, said he was notified about 10 p.m. Tuesday about the arrest.
"It's very easy to hide behind a computer and taunt everyone else," he said Wednesday. "We are just lucky Shamokin caught on before any problems occurred here."
He said what Binsack said online was "just not true. It's hard to believe someone can do that." The chief had said previously that he wasn't bothered by what Binsack said about him, but that he went too far when he began suggesting corruption with committee members of the Little Eddie Griffiths Pig Roast. The event is held each year in memory of the chief's son, who died in 1994 from a brain tumor at age 12, and raises money for scholarships.
Griffiths said Binsack's many accusations were all part of his "act."
"He showed what he really was: a social villain and a convict who got exposed," he said.
(News-Item Staff Writers Larry Deklinski and Rob Wheary contributed to this story.)