A Bradford County man has been charged with assaulting a Pennsylvania Game Commission Wildlife Conservation Officer.
Steven Harold Neilson, 43, of Monroeton is charged with two felony counts each of endangering the welfare of children and aggravated assault. Neilson also faces a host of other charges, including recklessly endangering another person and fleeing or attempting to elude a police officer.
The charges stem from a June 7 incident in Overton Township, Bradford County.
Wildlife Conservation Officer Jeffery Oleniacz was patrolling an area of State Game Lands 12 near Schrader Creek when he encountered several individuals operating all-terrain vehicles, (ATVs), utility-task vehicles (UTVs) and dirt bikes on a game lands road posted closed to motorized vehicles.
The vehicles scattered, but Oleniacz stopped one UTV and was interviewing the driver when Neilson returned to the scene and drove in circles near the officer while making verbal threats before driving away, according to the affidavit of probable cause.
Neilson then allegedly returned and drove his UTV, with his daughter seated in the passenger seat, toward Oleniacz, accelerating and swerving toward the officer before striking him in the left arm. Neilson then fled the area.
Two search warrants were executed by wildlife conservation officers (WCOs) at separate locations and the UTV believed to have been driven by Neilson was seized as evidence.
Charges were filed by Luzerne County WCO David Allen, and Neilson was arraigned at the office of Magisterial District Judge Fred Wheaton, Wysox. Neilson initially was remanded to the Bradford County Correctional Facility, but he has since posted $10,000 bail. A preliminary hearing is scheduled for July 16, at the office of Magisterial District Judge Timothy Clark in Towanda.
WCO Oleniacz sustained an injury to his left arm that did not require medical attention.
“Our officers conduct regular patrols on state game lands to protect these valuable resources from abuse,” explained Game Commission Northeast Region Director Daniel Figured.
“Assaulting an officer with a motorized vehicle is a serious offense and persons committing this crime will be prosecuted to the fullest extent. This dangerous and reckless act put the safety of three persons at risk,” added Figured.