The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA


September 4, 2013

Hartleton's suspended police chief faces new criminal charges

— MIFFLINBURG — As a helpless worker waved him off, a suspended police chief facing trial in a playground-donation-instead-of-tickets scheme drove a riding lawn mower into the employee and over the extension cords and gutters the repairman was using at a home in Hartley Township, state police at Milton said.

Donald “Larry” Zerbe also steered the riding mower across a gravel driveway, spraying rocks into the 2001 Volkswagen Jetta owned by Lamar Schlabach, causing the paint to chip, according to court documents.

Zerbe, suspended police chief in Hartleton, faces new charges after troopers said he arrived at the Hartley Township home Aug. 22 to mow a lawn and began to drive a lawn mower out of control and struck the worker, troopers said.

Lamar and Javon Schlabach, who were employed by the homeowner to replace gutters and downspouts, told police they saw Zerbe arrive and begin to prepare to mow the lawn, according to court documents.

Zerbe drove the lawn mower close to the Schlabachs’ equipment, causing Lamar Schlabach to begin to wave his hands at Zerbe in an attempt to get him to stop mowing, police said.

Zerbe ignored the man and continued on, running over a 3-inch piece of downspout and approximately 20 feet of extension cord, troopers said.

The embattled chief then drove to the other end of the home and over a gravel driveway, spraying rocks into Lamar Schlabach’s Jetta, according to court documents.

The rocks kicked up by Zerbe’s mower were also being cast in the direction of the workers, they told police.

Zerbe made a U-turn and began his second pass by the Schlabachs and toward the front of the house, but this time Javon Schlabach stood in front of the lawn mower with his arms crossed in an attempt to block the former police chief’s path, police said.

The attempt failed.

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

Zerbe now faces a misdemeanor criminal mischief and a summery disorderly conduct after the incident.

Zerbe, 67, also is staring at three third-degree felony counts, two of theft and one of conspiracy, for allegedly offering drivers who committed traffic violations in Hartleton a choice between getting a ticket or making a $150 donation to a playground fund, a scheme police said began in 2008 and ran through 2012.

Less than a week ago, Zerbe did not enter a plea agreement as expected and opted for a jury trial in Union County Court.

Zerbe’s lawyer, Hank J. Clarke, of Pottsville, on Wednesday said he could not comment because he had not received the charges.

Email comments to

Text Only
  • BJ's owner still debating Danville location

    DANVILLE — The fate of BJ’s Steak and Rib House in Danville, devastated by a fire April 20, should be decided in about 30 days.

    July 27, 2014

  • Motorcycle ride raises $7,758 for Budd family

    MILTON — A charity motorcycle ride on Saturday raised $7,758 for the family of Sharon Budd.

    July 27, 2014

  • Federal commission to hold public meetings on pipeline proposal

    The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission that oversees the Atlantic Sunrise Pipeline project will seek input in August from the public and interested agencies in order to prepare an environmental impact statement.

    July 27, 2014

  • Supervisor fined weekly for blighted properties

    A Point Township supervisor and city businessman has accumulated six code violations since June for allowing a commercial building property he owns to fall into a blighted state.

    July 27, 2014

  • Sharon Budd out of 'life-threatening stage'

    Sharon Budd’s life is no longer in danger, husband Randy Budd said Saturday, doctors confident the Ohio woman who once fought back breast cancer will survive the massive injuries sustained when an eight-pound rock thrown from an overpass smashed through the family’s vehicle windshield, shattering her face and head.

    July 27, 2014

  • rgbcycles26a.jpg More than $50,000 raised for Budd, family

    The total from Saturday’s motorcycle charity run for the Budd family was unavailable at deadline, but organizers anticipate it will be in the thousands.

    July 26, 2014 1 Photo

  • rgbcycles26c.jpg Hundreds ride to honor Sharon Budd, family

    The only thing brighter than Randy Budd’s smile was the gleaming chrome of 366 motorcycles as they roared off on a sunny Saturday for a 66-mile run through the Valley.

    July 26, 2014 1 Photo

  • Representative says Israel could make Gaza a "smoking wasteland"

    As the battles between Israelis and Hamas growing fiercer by the day, and with today’s “humanitarian” cease fire scheduled to end at midnight, both of the Valley’s U.S. Congressmen reiterated their strong support for Israel.

    July 26, 2014

  • Medical marijuana inches closer to reality in Pa.

    Pennsylvania came closer to legalizing medical marijuana this summer, but the conundrum that pushed passing the state’s budget until July 10 knocked the cannabis measure from senators’ priorities and to the fall legislative session.

    July 26, 2014

  • Paterno_Joe1 Son: Joe Paterno feared wrongly accusing Sandusky

    Former Penn State football coach Joe Paterno told his son the day after his firing that he hadn’t informed the coaching staff about allegations Jerry Sandusky may be a child molester because he was unsure whether they were true, Jay Paterno writes in a new book.

    July 26, 2014 1 Photo

The Daily Marquee

Click HERE to read all your Parade favorites including Hollywood Wire, Celebrity interviews and photo galleries, Food recipes and cooking tips, Games and lots more.