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Appellate Court: Area Man Must Register As Sex Offender

March 20, 2019 GMT

An appellate court panel Monday upheld a sentence requiring a former Hazleton man to register as a sex offender after he took videos in a women’s restroom at a Mountain Top pizzeria.

Juan Bermudes Prieto pleaded no contest after being detected peeping through the restroom ceiling at the former Luigi’s Pizza and Restaurant where he worked in Wright Twp. in 2017.

Luzerne County Judge David Lupas issued a sentence of two to four years, and Prieto appealed to Superior Court.

While the charges of possessing child pornography carried a maximum of seven years in prison, Prieto said he had to register as a sex offender for 15 years.

The decision written by President Judge Emeritus Correale Stevens for panel Judges Jacqueline Shogan and Paula Francisco Ott said the Legislature can create multiple punishments, such as incarceration and registration, that vary in length.

Prieto said the Sexual Offenders Assessment Board is an administrative agency that exercises a role in sentencing, a violation of the state constitution that gives that role to the judiciary.

The court said the board didn’t dictate a specific conclusion. Rather, after Prieto pleaded no contest, a statute required him to enter the registry for 15 years.

Prieto’s attorney considered the appeal frivolous and was excused from the case, while U.S. Customs and Immigration Enforcement put a detainer on Prieto, 44, a citizen of Mexico.

Prieto was discovered in February 2017 by a woman who saw fingers moving a ceiling tile in the restroom and called for help.

Her husband tried to grab Prieto, who escaped through a window but dropped his phone, which contained 48 videos of women and girls in the restroom of the restaurant now called Adelina’s.

Contact the writer:

kjackson@standardspeaker.com; 570-501-3587