Theft Suspect Sentenced During Victim’s Funeral
WILKES-BARRE — A man from Luzerne County is headed to prison after being sentenced for stealing thousands of dollars from a woman in a nursing home.
Luke Marek was sentenced to three to 24 months in county jail at the Luzerne County Courthouse Thursday morning.
The victim’s family was not in the courtroom because they were at the woman’s funeral.
Prosecutors say they tried fast tracking this case because Marek agreed to plead guilty and the victim had little time left.
Instead of seeing justice in the courtroom, that elderly woman’s family was at her funeral.
After pleading with a judge for house arrest Luke Marek walked out of the Luzerne County Courthouse knowing that he has to report to the Luzerne County Jail on Monday to serve three to 24 months behind bars.
Marek ignored our questions as he walked away with his mother.
But Plains Township police say he gained the trust of his mother’s neighbor and later ripped her off.
Court records show Marek used 97-year-old Josephine Szalkowski’s checkbook to write himself checks for $13,000, $30,000 and later $75,000, allegedly stealing a total of $118,000.
Court documents say Josephine Szalkoswki was at Timber Ridge nursing Home in Plains Township in August, recovering from a broken hip. Police say that is when she discovered that a lot of her money was missing.
“Her health was rapidly deteriorating, and she needed around-the-clock health care, so she needed money to pay for that,” explained Luzerne County A.D.A. Jenny Roberts.
Roberts says the case against Marek was fast tracked but not fast enough.
Szalkoswki died on Monday.
Marek was sentenced at the same time that the funeral was happening in Plains Township.
“It ain’t no joke at all. You know, the family couldn’t even be there, because they had to be at the funeral. That’s not right at all,” said Janice Medley of White Haven.
On her way to visit a friend at Timber Ridge Nursing Home, Medley said the three to 24 month jail sentence for Marek is not enough punishment to fit the crime.
Karen Ide calls the case an upsetting lesson.
“I do have an elderly father. We’re constantly watching and reminding him, you don’t answer the door. Don’t trust anybody, unfortunately, if it’s not family. That’s what the world is coming to, unfortunately.”
Marek has been ordered to continue paying full restitution to the victim’s family, about $4,500 a month.
He’s currently free but he must report to the Luzerne County Jail on Monday morning.