2 Pa. COs suspended after arrests for domestic violence

Arrested this month for separate incidents in which police say they choked their spouses at their homes

By David Singleton
The Times-Tribune

SCRANTON, Pa. — Two Lackawanna County Prison correctional officers have been suspended without pay after their arrests on domestic violence charges.

Lee Kaczmarek, 25, Dunmore, and Joshua Thomas, 35, Scranton, both of whom were hired by the jail in 2012, were arrested this month for separate incidents in which police say they choked their spouses at their homes.

Although he would not identify the employees, Warden Robert McMillan confirmed Tuesday he suspended two correctional officers without pay during the past two weeks after their arrests on criminal charges related to off-duty conduct.

Each suspended officer will receive a due-process hearing, which typically occurs after the preliminary hearing, that could result in anything from no action to termination, the warden said.

The officers each earn $32,972 annually, according to county salary records.

Mr. Kaczmarek faces a preliminary hearing March 31 at 9:45 a.m. on charges of aggravated and simple assault, terroristic threats and harassment. The preliminary hearing for Mr. Thomas, charged with simple assault and harassment, is set for April 21 at 9:15 a.m. Both men are free on bail.

Dunmore police arrested Mr. Kaczmarek on March 8 after his wife went to police headquarters shortly after 5 a.m. and told officers her husband choked and threatened to kill her at their home in the 100 block of Gibbons Street.

Holly Kaczmarek, who was described in the arrest affidavit as visibly shaken and hyperventilating, told police the couple argued when her husband returned home at 3:30 a.m. after being out with friends.

Mr. Kaczmarek grabbed her neck with his right hand and pressed her against the living room couch, choking her to the point where she could not breathe, while saying, "I wish I could choke you dead," she told police. During the argument, he told her it would be no use reporting the incident because he is a prison guard and no one would believe her.

When questioned later, Mr. Kaczmarek initially denied there was a physical altercation, police said. However, when officers asked about marks on his right forearm that were consistent with his wife trying to remove his hand from her throat, Mr. Kaczmarek said he put his hands on her after she hit and spit on him.

Mr. Thomas was arrested after Scranton police were called to his home in the 3100 block of McCarthy Street on Sunday around 3 a.m. Officers were met outside by his wife, Kelly Thomas, who had a swollen face and a bloody nose, police said.

According to the arrest affidavit, a verbal argument became violent when Mr. Thomas put his hands around his wife's neck and choked her. Mr. Thomas left the home but returned about 15 minutes later, when the argument resumed. As he tried to force his wife out of the residence, Mr. Thomas struck her in the face, police said.

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