Sunday, February 3, 2008

911 dispatcher faked fire dispatch

A former Pennsylvania 911 dispatcher charged with sending police and volunteer firefighters to a brush fire that never happened, dodged a criminal record early last year when he was placed on a probation-without-a-verdict program. His father is a judge.

Joseph D. Homanko Jr. of Beaver Meadows was put on the Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition Program for a year by Judge Roger N. Nanovic. Nanovic also ordered Homanko, son of Judge Joseph Homanko, to do 20 hours of community service and continue with mental health treatment.

State police said Homanko was working as a dispatcher when he sent firefighters and police to state game lands in Packer Township, telling them there was a brush fire when there was none. Homanko's supervisor discovered the call and reported it to state police. Trooper Shelly A. Konsavage questioned Homanko, and he admitted making the false report. "Nobody called," he told Konsavage. "I just dispatched them to the call. I don't know why I did it and that is why I'm seeking counseling."

Homanko was suspended April 24, 2006 and resigned two days later. He was arrested Aug. 18 and twice ran afoul of probation officials.

He initially was given unsecured bail, meaning Homanko did not have to post cash. Probation officials alleged he violated a condition of his release by being in touch with emergency medical technicians, and was made to post $1,500. At the request of a public defender, bail was changed again to unsecured, but a curfew was put on Homanko. He was put in county prison for two days in November after he was accused of swearing at a probation officer and violating his curfew. Judge Nanovic freed him from prison, but made him post $5,000 bail. (info from the Allentown Morning Call)

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