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Dickson City police officer John Sobieski fired amid domestic violence allegation

Borough council fired a police officer Monday after an internal investigation by police into a domestic violence allegation. The borough terminated Officer John Sobieski, who had been a full-time member of the force for more than eight years, on a charge “neglect or violation of official duties and conduct unbecoming of an officer.” Lackawanna County District Attorney Shane Scanlon also confirmed his office is investigating a domestic violence allegation against a Dickson City police officer, although he declined to name the target. Two sources who spoke on the condition of anonymity told The Times-Tribune the district attorney’s office is looking into the same incident as the borough’s investigation. Borough officials have declined to comment on the details of the matter, with Police Chief Stephen Margeson, council President Barbara Mecca, Borough Manager Cesare “Ches” Forconi and solicitor Bill Jones each calling it a personnel matter. Union representative Chris Tully also declined to comment, and Sobieski couldn’t be reached Monday. Borough residents William Mitchell and Alexes Leone said they spoke with Dickson City police during what Margeson told them was an internal investigation about an incident in the early morning hours of Aug. 12, when Sobieski was off duty. The couple both told The Times-Tribune they were watching Netflix with a friend at about 3 a.m. when they heard a scream for help coming from outside their home on Main Street. “We went over there (across the street),” Leone said. “(Sobieski) was standing over the lady. She was on the ground, crying. Her face was all red.” Mitchell said that when he approached, Sobieski told him to get away and “I’m a Dickson City cop.” The pair said the woman then tried to flee and Sobieski appeared to reach toward his pocket. Fearing Sobieski was reaching for a weapon — although he never saw a weapon — Mitchell said he punched Sobieski in the face, after which Sobieski grabbed his shirt and the pair tumbled to the ground. Sobieski asked, “Can we settle this like humans?” both Mitchell and Leone said, adding that Mitchell said “it’s a little late for that now” and called the police. In 2015, another woman sought a temporary protection-from-abuse order from Lackawanna County Court against Sobieski, claiming after a custody exchange that he followed her and performed a series of aggressive traffic moves, such as pulling in front of her and applying his brakes. She described prior instances of constant phone calls and texts, and another time Sobieski told her that he had people watching and taking pictures of her. Senior Judge Richard Saxton dismissed the order after the woman’s motion to withdraw it. Sobieski’s salary as a Dickson City police officer was $66,036. When council fired the officer Monday, council members Paul Kwiec and Georgia Adamitis abstained from the vote, emphasizing they don’t condone the behavior that had been described to them. Adamitis said she was troubled that council didn’t have a written opinion from borough attorney Joseph Rudolph on how to handle the issue and she was unhappy with how little information was shared with her about the incident leading up to Monday. “I disagree with some of the things and some of the ways this was handled initially,” Adamitis said. Kwiec added that Margeson shared a letter about the incident with Mecca that she didn’t tell him about until three weeks later, and that he never got any correspondence from Rudolph. Mecca said she was told not to discuss it with anyone during the investigation. “The borough will inform Mr. Sobieski of council’s decision and also provide notice to the borough civil service commission,” Mecca said after the vote. “Because Mr. Sobieski has a right of appeal from this council’s decision, the borough will make no further comment regarding this matter at this time.”
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