Iraq War Veteran Charged, Accused Of Threats

April 17, 2018 GMT

JESSUP — An Operation Iraqi Freedom veteran who says he’s struggling with post-traumatic stress disorder faces charges after a string of threats made against his wife and a pastor in Blakely, Lackawanna County detectives said Monday.

Frank Ball, 42, 808 Main St., Dickson City, threatened to harm himself and others during a disturbance Nov. 29 at the Jessup home he shared with his wife, Mary Ellen Ball. She discovered a handgun underneath his pillow and called Jessup police, who filed paperwork to have Mr. Ball evaluated, Chief Detective Joseph Jordan wrote in a criminal complaint.

Mrs. Ball obtained a protection-from-abuse order on Wednesday after learning he had been released from the hospital. Efforts to reach Mrs. Ball were unsuccessful.

Mr. Ball told investigators he has problems with PTSD, Chief Jordan said. He turned himself in Sunday and was the “perfect gentleman.”

“We’re concerned for his safety,” Chief Jordan said.

Mr. Ball enlisted in the Navy on Dec. 30, 1999, and was separated from the military on Sept. 11, 2011, at the rank of petty officer 2nd class. He served in Kuwait  —  at Navy Central Command in Kuwait City from Aug. 2, 2003, through Aug. 12, 2003 — then in Iraq with the Navy Expeditionary Logistics Support Force from Sept. 12, 2005, through May 1, 2006. The Navy decorated him nine times during his service, which included the Navy/Marine Corps Achievement Medal and the Navy Reserve Meritorious Service Medal.

He and his wife married June 22, 2007.

Recently, Mr. Ball began acting strangely, detectives said.

In July, Mr. Ball posted several things to Facebook directed toward the Rev. Terry Drost of the Peckville Assembly of God Church in Blakely.

Why Mr. Ball was angry with the Rev. Drost was not clear Monday. Attempts to reach the Rev. Drost were unsuccessful.

Mr. Ball posted images of a body bag, a rifle, references to dragging body bags through the woods, videos of terrorist beheadings and Islamic State-related images. Mrs. Ball told detectives during a Friday interview she once smelled gasoline in her house and found a gas can with no lid. Mr. Ball had burned a Bible and posted a video to Facebook, but soon took it down, she said.

Mr. Ball surrendered his Ruger semi-automatic handgun once he was served with the PFA and signed a form stating he has no access to firearms.

However, there were indications that Mr. Ball had another firearm.

“My new toy, yeppers I love it,” Mr. Ball posted to Facebook in July showing a picture of a rifle.

Mrs. Ball told detectives she never saw a rifle. If he had one, he hid it in the garage, where he spent most of his time.

On Friday, members at the Clarks Green Assembly of God complained to the South Abington Twp. Police Department that Mr. Ball, who had attended the church since July, acted strangely and was seen pacing in the parking lot. Two parishioners reported seeing a rifle in the back of his Hyundai Sonata, much like the one displayed in the Facebook post in July, detectives said. Authorities had not found a rifle as of Monday, Chief Jordan said.

An investigation did not uncover any evidence Mr. Ball planned to commit further crimes, Chief Jordan said. Authorities said they want to get Mr. Ball help.

Mr. Ball is charged with misdemeanor counts of terroristic threats, harassment and stalking with the intent to cause emotional distress.

He is in Lackawanna County Prison in lieu of $50,000 bail. A preliminary hearing is scheduled for Monday.

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Editor’s note: The above article was changed to correct an error in Mr. Ball’s military service.


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