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First Posted: 12/23/2014

911 call leads police to suspected meth lab in Nanticoke

• Police say a woman calling 911 to report she’d overdosed on drugs Saturday led officers to a suspected meth lab in her Apollo Circle apartment.

Cheryl Lee Kemper, 31, of Nanticoke, told Luzerne County 911 Saturday afternoon she had taken too much “meth,” had a chemical burn on her arm, could see a blood clot moving in her arm and her 13-year-old son was experiencing shortness of breath, according to a criminal complaint.

Responding officers immediately noticed an odor of chemicals upon entering the residence, police say, and so removed both Kemper and her son from the apartment.

Police say the odor, which could be smelled from a “considerable distance,” was characteristic of the process of manufacturing methamphetamine, causing irritation of the eyes, skin and throat. In Kemper’s bedroom, the complaint says, police located two funnels with white residue, a measuring cup with residue, hypodermic needle caps, filter material and a 2-liter bottle containing white solids and other moist materials.

What The Fork to open restaurant in Wilkes-Barre

• Mario Bevilacqua, owner and chef of the What The Fork food truck, confirmed he is in the process of meeting with architects to design the interior of his first What The Fork restaurant in Downtown Wilkes-Barre.

The distinctive green What The Fork truck has been seen throughout the Wilkes-Barre area and now will have a permanent spot at 41 South Main St., Midtown Village, Wilkes-Barre. Bevilacqua said the new venue will open the end of February.

Bevilacqua said his goal always was to open a brick-and-mortar restaurant. He anticipates the new downtown eatery will have about 25 seats and will offer delivery to the downtown area.

2 local women must pay more than $40,000 in restitution for welfare fraud

• Two women from Luzerne County must repay more than a combined $40,000 after their recent convictions for welfare fraud.

Suzanne M. Cosenza, 37, of Plymouth, received more than $30,500 in Subsidized Day Care benefits, according to a news release from the state Office of Inspector General.

Cosenza pleaded guilty to felony welfare fraud, was sentenced by Luzerne County Judge David W. Lupas to two years probation and was ordered to pay full restitution, court costs and fees. She was disqualified from receiving SDC benefits for a period of six months.

Leslie J. Perla, 40, of Hazleton, received more than $10,859 in cash assistance and Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits, the OIG said.

Perla pleaded guilty to felony welfare fraud, was sentenced by Judge Fred Pierantoni III to four years probation and 30 hours of community service and was ordered to pay full restitution, court costs and fees. She was disqualified from receiving cash assistance benefits for a period of six months and SNAP benefits for a period of 12 months.

Car-less chef wins new set of wheels from United Way of Wyoming Valley

• “Wow,” John Konze said Monday outside Mohegan Sun Casino at Pocono Downs after he was named the winner of a 2015 Chrysler 200S from the United Way of the Wyoming Valley’s Community Campaign.

Konze, a chef with the casino, was one of nearly 30 employees waiting outside of the valet entrance at noon Monday for the announcement on who the winner was of a two-year lease on the 2015 Chrysler.

After hearing his name, Konze looked a bit dazed. Sitting in the gray Chrysler, Konze said he was “overwhelmed.”

“I am full of nerves,” he said.

Konze said he currently does not have a car and has been hitching a ride to work with friends and co-workers.

“This will really help me out a lot,” he said.

Harvard survey finds Pennsylvania among most corrupt states

• A new survey measuring corruption in the country puts Pennsylvania at the bad end of the spectrum.

According to the study, which was conducted by the Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics at Harvard University, the Commonwealth is ranked among the most corrupt states.

Arizona ranks as the most corrupt, followed by California, Kentucky, Alabama, Illinois and New Jersey. Pennsylvania is in the next group, ranking under Georgia and New Mexico.

“Given our local experience here recently, I wasn’t terribly surprised,” said Joseph Curran, executive director of the Ethics Institute of Northeastern Pennsylvania at Misericordia University.

Hungry customers fill new Wilkes-Barre Popeyes

• Bob Brodbeck, Dennis Desbrow and Paul Farrell waited at least a half hour for their order at the new Popeyes restaurant late Sunday afternoon.

That wasn’t unusual, given the line of customers 50 deep that wound through the building and the more than 30 cars lined up halfway around the restaurant, along a driveway behind the adjacent Walgreens and out to Coal Street.

“It’s impossible in there,” Brodbeck, 90, said as he and Desbrow, 55, waited at the car for Farrell, 53, who still was inside waiting for their order. “They’ll never seat them all.”

The three East End Towers residents were among the nearly 1,000 customers who swarmed the popular Southern-style Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen restaurant along Wilkes-Barre Township Boulevard in just its first afternoon of business.