Police: Claim of lost memory a false report
JERSEY SHORE — Out of work and with nothing left in his savings, 54-year-old Michael Gebhart was apparently so “desperate” to get help that he allegedly made up a story Thursday morning about losing his memory, claiming falsely to authorities that he no idea who he was when he arrived at Jersey Shore Hospital.
“If he just came to our police station and told us he had no where to go, we certainly would have tried to reach out to resources that we have. We would have done the best we could to help him,” Sgt. Brian Fioretti of the Tiadaghton Valley Regional Police Department, said.
Instead, Gebhart acted like he had no memory, prompting Fioretti to spend the next 10 hours making several attempts to determine the man’s identity. The officer reached out to WNEP, who broadcast the story and photo on its noon broadcast. A family member who saw the news report and the picture recognized the man as a possible relative.
Relatives responded to the hospital to confirm for police the man’s identity when in fact Gebhart, formerly of Muncy, knew all along who he was, Fioretti said.
Gebhart had initially claimed he hitched a ride from a motorist on Route 44 in Watson Township who brought him to the borough. This too was untrue, police said. He drove his pickup truck to the Rails-to-Trails parking lot in the borough and simply walked into a convenience store, claiming he did not know who he was, police said. A motorist took him to the hospital.
“It was a hoax,” Fioretti said, who charged Gebhart on Friday with one misdemeanor count of false reports to law enforcement.
“I lost my job and went through my savings,” Gebhart, said, adding he had recently been evicted from an apartment on South Market Street in Muncy.
Admitted overnight Thursday to Jersey Shore Hospital for observation, Gebhart was arraigned before District Judge Christian Frey in Williamsport and committed to the Lycoming County Prison in lieu of $25,000 bail.
Although he has no arrest record, he was incarcerated because he had no permanent address, according to the judge.