• Estranged boyfriend of missing woman charged in connection with alleged forgery


    HEMPFIELD TOWNSHIP, Pa. - Police have charged the estranged boyfriend of a Westmoreland County woman who went missing in April with conspiracy to commit forgery.

    Thomas Stanko, who is currently incarcerated at the county prison on charges unrelated to the disappearance of Cassandra Gross, allegedly told his mother, Almira, to use his ACCESS card in order to take advantage of $1,200 in state food stamp funds, according to a criminal complaint.

    He allegedly gave her the PIN to the card during a call from the jail, according to the complaint.

    Almira Stanko, who is charged with forgery, allegedly went to the Giant Eagle in Ligonier on Oct. 30 to make a small purchase to see if the card worked, but was denied, according to the complaint.


    Later that day, she talked to her son by phone and told her the plan hadn’t worked, according to the complaint.

    Gross was last on April 7. Her dog and burned-out vehicle were found soon after, but despite numerous searches by police and volunteers, including on Stanko’s property, little progress has been made in finding her.

    Stanko is appealing a four-year prison sentence handed down for violating probation on a conviction of threatening people at a Unity cemetery in 2015.

    Gross’ family has contended Stanko is responsible for her disappearance, but he has denied any involvement.


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