Winkie's pizza shop owner charged for alleged unwanted sexual acts
MOUNT CARMEL - The owner of a borough pizza shop was jailed Thursday for allegedly having unwanted sexual contact, making lewd remarks and providing alcohol to three of his former female employees between November and the beginning of February at his business.
Michael Gerard Stranko, 41, of 110 E. View Circle, Sugarloaf, who has owned and operated Winkie's Pizza, 120 E. Third St., for approximately 20 years, was arraigned by Magisterial District Judge Hugh Jones on multiple misdemeanor and summary offenses.
He is accused of placing his hands down the pants and up the shirts of two 18-year-old females, making lewd comments toward them and a 17-year-old girl, and harassing all three while they were employed at the pizza shop.
All three victims reported the allegations to police Feb. 3.
One of the 18-year-olds, who began working as a delivery person at Winkie's in January, told police Stranko made inappropriate comments toward her and placed his hands on her buttocks on numerous occasions. She said Stranko also made her drink alcohol while she was working.
The victim, who told police she was afraid of Stranko because he is much bigger than she, said the defendant called her a lewd name, grabbed her by the arm and pushed her around when she refused to take shots of liquor.
She said most of the harassment occurred in the basement of the business, where Stranko often touched her inappropriately. The victim said Stranko kissed her multiple times and placed his hands in flour before putting flour hand prints on her buttocks.
The victim said Stranko accompanied her on deliveries Feb. 2, which made her uncomfortable to the point where she would cry. The victim said she was terrified to return to work and quit her job that night.
The other 18-year-old victim, who began working at Winkie's just before the beginning of the year, provided police with similar accusations. She claimed Stranko made her consume alcohol, lifted her up against a wall against her will and pushed her on numerous occasions. The victim said Stranko told her if she would drink a few shots, maybe he would look handsome.
While in the basement, the victim said Stranko told her that if she would "bribe" him, she would be able to leave work early. She claimed to be afraid of Stranko because she didn't know what he was going to do to her. She also quit her job Feb. 2.
The 17-year-old victim, who began her employment in November before quitting Jan. 8, said Stranko harassed her in similar ways. She claimed Stranko made her drink shots of vodka, called her lewd names multiple times and asked her sexually related questions.
When police interviewed Stranko about the allegations Feb. 17, he requested legal counsel.
Patrolman Justin Stelma filed three criminal complaints against Stranko.
He is charged with corruption of minors, selling or furnishing liquor or alcohol to minors and harassment in connection with the incidents involving the 17-year-old female. Stranko also is charged with two counts each of indecent assault, harassment and selling or furnishing liquor or alcohol to minors relating to the incidents with the two 18-year-old females.
Stranko was committed to Northumberland County Prison in Sunbury in lieu of $45,000 cash bail. He is scheduled to appear for a preliminary hearing before Jones on April 16.
A young man working at the pizza shop early Thursday afternoon said he was made aware of Stranko's arrest, but declined comment. He said the business would remain open.