Wilkes-Barre Freebie Draws Criminal Complaint

By: Mark Fitzgerald

A Wilkes-Barre, Pa., woman who says she repeatedly tried to stop delivery of the Times Leader‘s total-market-coverage (TMC) product, has a nasty Valentine’s Day date with the paper’s circulation director: a hearing on her criminal complaint that unwanted copies of ExpressLine thrown on her steps represented “deliberate trespass” on her private property.

Residents who do not want unsolicited papers have filed formal “littering” complaints — with mixed success in court. This criminal complaint appears to be a first, however: A search of unsolicited newspaper legal cases did not yield a previous example.

Tina McCarthy, 27, filed the criminal complaint against Times Leader Circulation Director Susan Kahlau. McCarthy, who was in the seventh month of pregnancy when she made the complaint, said she took the step after she slipped on a bagged copy of ExpressLine.

McCarthy tried nearly everything, she said, including trying to reach Tony Ridder, chairman and CEO of the Times Leader‘s parent, Knight Ridder, to stop delivery of the TMC paper. Pennsylvania law permits citizens to make criminal complaints against individuals, but not companies.

An article by staff writer Fred Ney in The Citizens’ Voice, the Times Leader‘s rival daily in Wilkes-Barre, quoted McCarthy as saying Kahlau had come to McCarthy’s house and “promised to take care of it.”

The criminal charge is absurd, said Kahlau’s attorney, Michael Shucosky. He declined to comment extensively on the case, which is set for a Feb. 14 hearing before Luzerne County District Justice William Amesbury.

McCarthy could not be reached.

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