Woman who robbed her grandfather gets jail time
SUNBURY - Melanie J. Guinther, who was originally charged with 36 criminal counts involving nine separate incidents, including a June robbery of her grandfather, was sentenced Monday to 8 to 23 months in county prison after pleading guilty to 13 offenses.
The remaining charges were not prosecuted.
Prior to being sentenced by Northumberland County Judge Charles H. Saylor, the 31-year-old defendant, who formerly resided in Mount Carmel and Elysburg before being incarcerated more than three months ago, apologized to the court for her crimes and told the judge she has learned a lot while in prison.
Guinther admitted needing help to cope with a drug addiction and said her actions embarrassed her family, including her 79-year-old grandfather, Irvin F. Snyder, of Paxinos, one of the many victims of her crimes.
The defendant said she had been coping with many serious issues during her two-year crime spree, including the suicide of her estranged husband in June.
The judge told Guinther that her life has gone into a "downward spiral" during the past two years.
Prior to sentencing, Snyder told the court he believes Guinther is truly sorry for her crimes. Snyder said he has been "touched" by several letters he has received from Guinther during her incarceration and is confident his granddaughter can recover from her drug addiction and other problems.
In addition to imposing the prison sentence, Saylor ordered Guinther to pay $475 in fines, various costs and fees and make restitution of $2,950 to her grandfather, $1,608.10 to State Farm Insurance and $5 to Turkey Hill Minit Market in Mount Carmel.
The judge granted a request by Guinther's attorney, David Noon of Sunbury, to allow his client to be eligible for work release at the county prison. Noon said Guinther will be eligible for parole after serving eight months in prison.
Assistant District Attorney Melissa Norton represented the commonwealth at sentencing.
Guinther pleaded guilty to criminal conspiracy to commit trespass, criminal conspiracy to commit theft, possession of a controlled substance, possession with intent to deliver a controlled substance, forgery, loitering and prowling at night, bad checks, theft by unlawful taking, receiving stolen property, theft by deception, criminal trespass, loitering and criminal attempt to commit theft by deception.
During Guinther's guilty plea in November, Saylor ordered the defendant to enter a state intermediate punishment program at SCI-Muncy, where she underwent a rehabilitation program for drug abuse. Saylor denied Guinther entry into the county drug treatment court due to the seriousness of the extensive charges.
Noon told the judge at the November legal proceeding that his client was dealing with many issues. He said Guinther is bi-polar and has a severe drug addiction. He said Guinther was still suffering from the effects of surgery after being involved in accidents. Noon also said his client's estranged husband died and she was pregnant.
Guinther, who had several family members in attendance at sentencing, was charged by Ralpho Township police in connection with a June 2 robbery of 300 prescription pills and $3,150 from Snyder's home.
Robert Forrest Smith, 47, of Coal Township, and Katie Lynn Labus, 20, of Coal Township, also were charged in the robbery, with Smith being accused of stealing the money and pills at knifepoint.
Labus was previously sentenced to 3 to 12 months in county prison. Smith is incarcerated awaiting further court proceedings.
Guinther was charged in connection with the theft of a bracelet from an Elysburg home on Oct. 21, 2010. She was charged with theft by deception involving an incident at Wal-Mart Supercenter in Coal Township on Jan. 22, 2011.
The defendant was charged with trespassing and tampering with evidence in connection with an Aug. 2, 2011, incident at Joe's Auto Body in Natalie.
Guinther was charged with forging a check at a Sunbury bank that was stolen from a Northumberland home on July 12, 2011.
She was arrested for presenting a fake $5 bill at Turkey Hill Minit Market in Mount Carmel on May 9, 2011.
Guinther was charged with possession with intent to deliver three Kadiam capsules and 12 Ropinirole hydrochloride tablets involving a March 11 incident at the intersection of Route 61 and Mid Valley Highway (Route 2032) in Mount Carmel Township.
Guinther was charged with issuing two bad checks at Village Peddler in Elysburg on July 31.
She also was charged with loitering and prowling at night in connection with a Sept. 28 incident at an Elysburg home.