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Pennsylvania cop games police crash report, bilks Erie

April 04, 2019, Duryea, PA — A former Duryea police sergeant was sentenced Wednesday to one year of probation for interfering in a crash investigation in Old Forge to get his wife off the hook for driving with a suspended license.

Michael Rosemellia, 34, pleaded guilty Jan. 8 to obstruction of administration of law, in connection with a motor vehicle collision in Old Forge on May 18.

At that time, Rosemellia was off duty when his wife, Michele, who had a suspended driver’s license, called him to the scene of the traffic accident she was involved in, police had said.

Rosemellia flashed his badge to the other driver and said he was a police officer and would take care of the accident.

The other driver, Lawrence Papi, later told Old Forge police Rosemellia showed up several minutes after the collision. Papi was confused but trusted him because he identified himself as a police officer.

No official police report was made because the Old Forge department was not contacted. Rosemellia submitted a claim to Erie Insurance saying his mother-in-law had been driving his 2017 Acura RDX, and he received a check from Erie for $3,686.08.

Old Forge police charged Rosemellia in July with insurance fraud, a felony, and official oppression, a misdemeanor of invoking his authority as a police officer to hamper a police investigation.

Duryea suspended Rosemellia with pay and later changed the status to a leave of absence.

In September, authorities added another misdemeanor charge — obstruction of justice — for Rosemellia taking out his badge during the interaction with Papi.

Rosemellia resigned from his police job Jan. 8, upon pleading guilty to the obstruction charge, a crime that precludes him from working as a police officer, his defense attorney, David Solfanelli, said at the sentencing in Lackawanna County Court in Scranton.

The other two charges were dropped under a plea agreement.

During the sentencing, Solfanelli told Lackawanna County Judge Vito Geroulo that Rosemellia accepts responsibility for his “very poor judgment and bad decison making” that cost him his career as a police officer.

Rosemellia also has paid restitution to the insurance company, his attorney said.

Rosemellia expressed remorse and said he wants to “get this behind me and move on to a better future for me and my family.” He said he now works for his father-in-law, helping manage his bar/restaurant in Nanticoke, and hopes to embark on a new career in a trade union.

Saying Rosemellia otherwise apparently had an exemplary record as a police officer, Geroulo noted many police officers and people from Duryea submitted letters of support on his behalf.

“What’s the motivation? Why would you do something as stupid, in light of your dedication (as a police officer)?” Geroulo asked.

In a voice choking with emotion, Rosemellia said his thinking was clouded by wanting to protect his wife.

“I lost the career that meant more to me than probably anything,” Rosemellia said. “I let a lot of people down.”

Rosemellia faced being sentenced to up to two years in jail. But Geroulo said jail time would not accomplish anything in this case, and Rosemellia has already paid a high price.

“I see the loss of his career as a big penalty,” Geroulo said.

He also sentenced Rosemellia to perform 200 hours of community service.

Source: The Citizens' Voice

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