Zoning officer charged


HONESDALE—Honesdale Borough Police charged Dan Hnatko, 43, Zoning Officer for Honesdale Borough, with driving under the influence of a controlled substance - second offense, possession of a controlled substance, and several other misdemeanor and summary offenses after a blood test revealed Amphetamine and 7-Aminoclonazepam (Clonazepam Metabolite) in his system.

According to the affidavit filed by Honesdale police officer Keith Rynearson, Hnatko was pulled over around 9:30 p.m. on Saturday, April 7 for failure to use a turn signal and drifting over the double yellow traffic lines.

While retrieving the defendant's information, Rynearson detected the odor of alcohol, court papers state.

The officer requested to preform a field sobriety test to which Hnatko complied.

Before conducting the test, Rynearson initiated a pat down for safety purposes at which time, “I felt a spongy bulge in Hnatko's right front pant pocket,” states the affidavit.

Rynearson asked Hnatko what the bulge was and the latter responded, “I don't know,” according to the affidavit.

With permission, the officer retrieved the parcel from Hnatko's pocket.

The item proved to be a “cellophane wrapper that contained several round green pills that had no markings to identify what they were,” states the affidavit.

It further states Hnatko explained the pills were Klonopin which he'd received from a friend and had forgotten were in his pocket.

“I then asked Hnatko if he has a prescription for the Klonopin and he related, 'no,'” court papers show.

Rynearson also found “a small capsule in Hnatko's right front pocket,” which, when removed, “...it broke open and leaked a white powder onto my hand.”

When asked about the capsule, Hnatko denied knowing anything about it, said the release.

It further notes, after securing the contraband and Hnatko, Rynearson searched the car in which he found “...two hollowed out pen bodies that had a powder residue on the inside walls and a blue capsule pill in the console under the radio, identical to the capsule pill located in Hnatko's right front pocket.”

The officer secured this contraband as well.

Hnatko was taken to the station where drug recognition expert (DRE) Officer Jamie Trently conducted a further evaluation and found the zoning officer to be under the influence, court papers state.

Hnatko was then taken to Wayne Memorial Hospital where the blood test was taken.

The results of this came in on Friday, May 4.

According to Honesdale Borough Council President Michael Augello, Hnatko has been suspended with pay from his duties as zoning officer for several weeks, pending the results of investigations into myriad allegations made against the zoning officer.

Augello stated all the councilors are aware of Hnatko's charges and the borough is investigating appropriate action to take.

The president stated there are numerous steps which must be taken in their due time to ensure they observe the rights not only of the residents in the borough, but also of the defendant who remains innocent until he is convicted or has plead guilty in court.

“We will act appropriately with the proper advice and legal council as quickly as the law allows,” said Augello.

In the meantime, zoning matters in the borough will be handled on an as-needed basis by Northeast Inspection Consultants (NEIC), the agency whom Honesdale Borough currently utilizes for commercial endeavors.