The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

October 16, 2013

Ex-cop pleads guilty in lawn mower attack

By Evamarie Socha
The Daily Item

SUNBURY — MIFFLINBURG — A suspended police chief facing trial in a fines-for-the-playground scheme pleaded guilty Tuesday to disorderly conduct in an Aug. 22 incident in which he drove a riding lawn mower into a repairman working on a house in Hartley Township.

Donald “Larry” Zerbe, 68, of Laurelton, appeared before District Judge Jeffrey Mensch in Mifflinburg and paid a $240.50 fine for the summary offense. An initial misdemeanor charge of criminal mischief was withdrawn earlier.

State police at Milton said that on Aug. 22, Zerbe arrived at a Hartley Township home to mow a lawn, began to drive the mower out of control — running over a 3-inch piece of downspout, about 20 feet of extension cord and across a gravel driveway, spraying rocks onto the contractors’ Volkswagen Jetta, troopers said.

He then drove into a worker there at the home to do repairs; Zerbe had ignored attempts by Lamar and Javon Schlabach to wave him off.

Javon Schlabach stood in front of the lawn mower with his arms crossed in an attempt to block Zerbe’s path, troopers said.

The attempt failed.

Zerbe struck Javon Schlabach in the right shin with the deck of the mower, court documents said.

Meanwhile, jury selection begins Oct. 28 in Zerbe’s other case. He allegedly gave offending motorists an option of donating $150 to the Hartleton Playground Fund instead of paying a ticket.

Zerbe faces three third-degree felony counts — two of theft and one of conspiracy — and two