WILKES-BARRE — A Luzerne County jury on Tuesday convicted a Pittston man who tossed his young daughter by the arm into his van and sped off after a heated altercation outside a gas station.
Richard Arnsperger, 34, was found guilty on three misdemeanor counts of endangering the welfare of children stemming from a November 2014 incident outside Turkey Hill on South Main Street, Pittston.
Three misdemeanor charges of reckless endangerment, one count of disorderly conduct and multiple summary offenses were withdrawn, court records show.
Police arriving at the scene spoke to Jamey Lewis, who said he witnessed an agitated Arnsperger arguing with a female inside the store, according to a criminal complaint. Arnsperger come out of the store, grabbed his young daughter by the arm and threw her into a silver van, Lewis told police.
Lewis attempted to back his truck behind Arnsperger’s van and block him in while one of Lewis’ friends called 911. In an attempt to leave the scene, Arnsperger then backed his van into Lewis’ truck, striking his front fender, the complaint says.
Arnsperger then got out of his vehicle and shoved Lewis while shouting and cursing at him. Arnsperger, again attempting to leave in the vehicle, was able to squeeze the van out from between Lewis’ vehicle and Lewis himself, who had gone around to the front of Arnsperger’s van to keep him there until police arrived.
Lewis told police three small children were in the van without seat belts as Arnsperger reversed around cars at a high rate of speed and exited the gas station in reverse into traffic, where he ran a red light at the intersection of Swallow and South Main streets and drove off.
An off-duty police officer and two witnesses also told police they observed the same behavior from Arnsperger, the complaint says.
The two witnesses, Tom and Debbie Tavaglione, said they saw “at least three children in the van being tossed about the vehicle as it drove recklessly through the parking lot,” according to the complaint.
Luzerne County Judge Joseph F. Sklarosky Jr. ordered Arnsperger to comply with Luzerne County Children and Youth Services and refrain from entry to Turkey Hill.
Sklarosky scheduled Arnsperger’s sentencing for Feb. 25.
Reach Joe Dolinsky at 570-991-6110 or on Twitter @JoeDolinskyTL