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COURT BRIEFS

WILKES-BARRE – A Luzerne County judge denied an attorney’s second petition to withdraw as co-counsel from the capital murder case against two Virginia men.

Judge Peter Paul Olszewski Jr. denied attorney Stephen Menn’s request on Wednesday. Menn filed the court papers on Nov. 26 asking to be withdrawn from the case, citing economic hardship.

Menn said in court papers that his client, Harlow Cuadra, 27, has agreed that the appointment of a new attorney to represent him in the case would be in his best interest and agreed to sign a waiver of his rights to a speedy trial. Menn also said he would be “unable to be out of (the) office for four to six weeks,” which is the anticipated time for the entire trial, including jury selection and penalty phase.

Cuadra and co-defendant Joseph Kerekes, 34, are charged with homicide in the January 2007 death of Bryan Kocis, their rival in the gay porn industry. Police said Kocis, 44, was stabbed to death and his Midland Drive home set ablaze.

WILKES-BARRE – A Shavertown woman charged by Kingston police with stealing money from her employer waived her right to a preliminary hearing in Central Court on Monday.

Brandy Lee Balbach, 32, of Harris Hill Road, waived a single count of theft to Luzerne County Court of Common Pleas.

Kingston police charged Balbach, while employed at Cee-Kay Auto Parts on Market Street, with stealing items and returning them for refunds from May to October, according to the criminal complaint.

Police said Balbach was responsible for stealing $4,895 from the business.

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