Man given prison time for threatening caseworkers

Joshua Edward Harer, 25, was sentenced Tuesday to 12 to 24 months in Lycoming County Prison and three years probation for threatening to kill Children and Youth Services workers and state police who responded to a threat in June.

Harer has credit for time served from June 1 to June 28 on his 12 months less a day to 24 months less a day sentence, according to court records.

Around 11 a.m. on June 1, Children and Youth caseworkers responded to Harer’s girfriend’s house at 55 Harvest Moon Park in Linden.

The two caseworkers, Shelby Newcomer and Melissa Wheeland, were responding to the home to check on his then-girlfriend’s infant son.

The child was brought back into the residence that morning after returning from the hospital.

The caseworkers told the mother that the home was not fit for the child to live in so they responded when they found out the child was brought back, Newcomer said in the sentencing presided by Judge Marc F. Lovecchio.

When the two entered the home, they saw a shotgun leaning against the wall and shells on the nightstand next to it.

When discussing emergency custody options with the mother of the child outside, Harer threatened Newcomer by saying, “I’m going to (expletive) shoot you if you don’t leave my property,” she said.

“The infant child was in the residence with him,” Newcomer said. “He was threatening to kill us and said he would ‘come out blazing’ if police arrived and that they’d ‘have to bring an army.’ “

The caseworkers feared for their lives as well as the life of the infant, Newcomer said.

Harer told the caseworkers the night before that he had an issue with his temper, Wheeland said.

“This was not an isolated event and was an ongoing issue with him,” she said.

The case was similar to one five years ago involving a standoff with state police, Assistant District Attorney A. Melissa Kalaus said.

“Most of the people in this courtroom don’t have to worry about going home every day,” she said. “Caseworkers are sometimes placed in very tense situations and this made their job a lot harder. The gravity of this offense calls for the top end of the range of sentencing.”

Since pleading guilty to aggravated assault on June 27, Harer has been going through drug and alcohol, anger management and mental health counseling to combat the behavior that led to the incident, Kirsten Ann Gardner, Harer’s attorney, said.

“I do believe he is remorseful and he is learning to cope and to deal with the anger,” she said.

In determining Harer’s individual sentence, Lovecchio had to balance the protection of the community, the defendants rehabilitative needs and the gravity of the offense, he said.

“While you are making efforts to address what you need to address, I am not sure the impact of what you did is sinking in,” Lovecchio said. “You created a situation that could have deteriorated into one or more people dying.”