By Steve McConnell (Staff Writer)
Published: April 30, 2011
MOSCOW – Three North Pocono Middle School students were arrested Friday on charges of underage drinking and marijuana possession and were put on trial in front of the entire student body in the auditorium.
Well, not really.
But as a way to show middle school students what can happen if they break the law, the Minisink Lions Club in Moscow put together a mock trial that had Frank P. Castellano of the Lackawanna County district attorney’s office prosecute the trio at a school assembly with Magisterial District Judge John J. Mercuri presiding.
“We’re trying to teach kids the effects of when they get caught underage drinking,” said Bruce Zero, a club member and local attorney who defended the accused at the trial.
And the students who were “arrested” among their peers during a lunch period, Mariah Maglio, 14, Matt Kelly, 13, and Brody Dial, 14, did not know what was happening until they were escorted by two police officers to an office to meet their parents. Nor did the student body know until the trial was over.
“I saw them walking in (the cafeteria). I hope they’re not here for me,” said Matt, shortly after the solemn atmosphere in the school resource office was broken up by his mother’s laughter.
At the trial, which was just as solemn as the school resource office with students whispering quietly among themselves until Judge Mercuri told everyone it was just an act, Mr. Castellano had Covington Twp. and Moscow police officers Brian Leadem and Brian Layland testify they found the students drinking at a keg party near the school.
While Mr. Zero tried to pick apart the police officers’ investigation, Judge Mercuri found them guilty and bound over the drug charges to higher court.
“We did this because of the tragic … consequences that we see when young people get wrapped up in these things,” Judge Mercuri said.
Mariah, who along with Matt and Brody exercised her right not to testify on the stage in front of the hundreds of students in the auditorium, admitted she was “a little nervous” at first.
“It was kind of scary being up in front of your classmates,” said Brody, who couldn’t help but feel relieved when it was over.
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