'Goon Squad' teen to serve 30 more days
SUNBURY - Seventeen-year-old Chad Lytle, charged with assaulting a Shamokin teen last month, testified Tuesday that he's learned to control his temper, apologized for his actions and should be released from Northwestern Academy in Coal Township.
But after listening to the juvenile's testimony and that of two other witnesses, including his mother, Northumberland County President Judge William H. Wiest ruled that Lytle should spend 30 days in the academy's VCORE program and then be placed on an electronic monitoring program for up to 90 days.
VCORE (Vocationally Educating Cadets on Responsibility Through Environment) is a 120-day program also known as "boot camp" that uses a military model with an empathetic approach. The program is a lot more intensive than the shelter care program Lytle is currently in at Northwestern Academy.
Lytle was adjudicated by Wiest March 11 on felonies of criminal conspiracy to commit aggravated assault and riot, and misdemeanors of simple assault and disorderly conduct in connection with the Feb. 23 assault of 18-year-old Keith "KC" Long, who suffered a broken nose and serious facial injuries in what was called by police an assault by the "Goon Squad." He was not adjudicated on a felony of aggravated assault when witnesses couldn't positively identify him as the person who injured Long.
Being adjudicated in juvenile court is the same as being found guilty in adult court.
Progress vs. previous incidents
The Shamokin teen was represented by veteran attorney Joseph Michetti. The lawyer attempted to convince Wiest that his client had made enough progress since being detained at Northwestern following his adjudication hearing to warrant release to the custody of his mother, Tammy Foulds, and stepfather, Paul Foulds.
The attorney said Lytle has taken responsibility for his actions and learned his lesson.
Michetti argued that Lytle's mother, stepfather and other family members are very supportive of the teen and are capable of home schooling the juvenile, who turns 18 in July.
Michetti was hired by the family to represent Lytle after court-appointed attorney James Best served as the teen's lawyer at his adjudication hearing.
District attorney Tony Rosini painted a different picture of Lytle's home life by pointing out that the teen and his siblings were previously cited for curfew violations. Rosini also said Lytle had been involved in incidents at Northwestern prior to his adjudication hearing.
Rosini, who noted Lytle needs a "structured environment," said disposition (sentencing) in the case should be in line with recommendations presented at the outset of the hearing by intake probation officer Tracy Korbich.
Lytle said his time at Northwestern has made him a better person and claimed he was willing to accept any services offered by juvenile court services.
His mother said it is better for her son to be home schooled than return to high school, where she claimed he has been bullied. Tammy Foulds said she has been seeking anger management counseling for her son through Geisinger Medical Center in Danville and SafetyNet in Mount Carmel.
Foulds, who is a certified nursing assistant, said she and her husband could provide her son with appropriate supervision and care at home. Foulds said she is currently unemployed because she wanted to spend more time with her children.
Also testifying was Shana Neidig, who told the court she volunteers advice to teens about bullying.
Neidig said her son, who suffers from Tourette's Syndrome, was bullied in school.
She claimed Lytle was often bullied because he is small for his age. She told the judge she advised Lytle to walk away from bullies, but if they struck him, he should fight back.
Neidig claimed Lytle, who appeared in court in jeans, a plaid shirt and sneakers, has a "loving, supportive foundation" at home.
Rosini stipulated to Michetti's statement that Lytle's grandfather, Thomas McDonald, was willing to house the teen if necessary.
Victim, mother satisfied
Long and his mother, Jennifer Aston, were satisfied with the disposition. "We are happy that he was punished for what he did and we hope he gets the help he needs," Aston said.
Rosini added, "The judge's disposition was appropriate under the circumstances."
Michetti declined comment, as did Lytle's mother and stepfather.
Approximately 15 family members and friends attended the disposition and remained calm afterward.
One family member yelled to Lytle as he was escorted from the courtroom by juvenile court officials. She told him, "You will be alright. I love you."
In addition to being placed in the VCORE program and ordered to complete the electronic monitoring program, similar to house arrest for adults, Lytle must remain under the supervision of juvenile court services. He must pay a $50 installation fee for the monitoring program and $5.50 for each day he is enrolled.
He must visit PA CareerLink to explore educational and employment opportunities and complete 30 hours of community service at a site determined by juvenile court officials. He also is required to write a letter of apology to Long by April 23 and share the victim's medical expenses, which currently total $452.65, and any future medical costs with the four other teens charged in the assault.
Lytle must be fingerprinted and complete DNA testing. He must pay $125 in supervision fees, $50 in court costs, $25 to the Juvenile Court Restitution Fund and $5 for every month in which he remains under supervision.
Lytle shall be subject to drug and alcohol testing and must abide by all conditions set forth by juvenile court services.
If Lytle fails to complete the VCORE and electronic monitoring programs, Wiest could order him back to court for another disposition.
Lytle, Ryan Forte, 18, of 18 S. Market St., Apt. 1, Shamokin, and Gage Cossari, 16, of Shamokin, were charged with assaulting Long on East Independence Street near Shamokin Street before fleeing the scene when a passer-by stopped to assist the victim.
Lytle's two brothers, Seth, 15, and Kyle, 14, were charged with riot and disorderly conduct in connection with the incident.
All the charges were filed by Shamokin Patrolman William Miner.
Forte's preliminary hearing has been continued a few times since his arrest and he remains incarcerated at Northumberland County Prison in Sunbury. Cossari and the younger Lytle brothers, who remain free, are awaiting their adjudication hearings in Northumberland County Court.
Shamokin police previously said Forte, the Lytle brothers and Cossari are members of a group known as the Goon Squad who have been involved in fights, vandalism and intimidation in the city.