State College woman drives off in unmarked cruiser with hands cuffed behind her back, police say

A State College woman who police say commandeered an unmarked state police cruiser and drove it while her hands were cuffed behind her back is in jail on drug charges.

Janica Rene Germello, 25, of the 100 block of Toter Lane, is facing a host of drug-related charges following the late Saturday afternoon incident in the Williamsport area.

According to state police, Germello got into a pickup truck operated by an undercover vice trooper in the parking lot of a drug store in the 500 block of Market Street in Williamsport.

She then got out of the truck and ran, but was subdued by that trooper and another who arrived in an unmarked cruiser.

Germello had her hands cuffed behind her back and placed in the front passenger seat of the cruiser. State police explained that is procedure when a trooper has a suspect alone in a vehicle without a cage.

Germello allegedly became unruly as she was being taken to the state police barracks in Montoursville, claiming she did not want to go to jail.

When she twice tried to unlock the passenger side door, Trooper Brandon C. Schrawder placed her in a headlock as he turned from Market Street onto the ramp leading to Interstate 180 east, the arrest affidavit states.

He stopped the cruiser on the ramp and Trooper John Whipple, who was in the pickup truck, pulled in behind him.

When Schrawder got out of the cruiser to go around to the passenger side to better secure Germello, he said she locked the doors and slid over the console into the driver’s seat, using her hand to put the cruiser in drive.

She drove east on I-180 in an erratic manner, according to a witness, and exited at the Faxon interchange just east of the city.

The cruiser went north on Shiffler Avenue and through a stop sign at Washington Boulevard where the pickup truck tapped it on a rear quarter panel, causing it to slide into a tree, the arrest affidavit states.

After police regained custody of Germello, they said they found in her purse 10 bags of heroin, 10 empty bags, six hypodermic needles and a plastic container with heroin residue.

She was arraigned on numerous charges, including theft, receiving stolen property, flight to avoid apprehension, escape, recklessly endangering another person, resisting arrest and possession of a controlled substance and drug paraphernalia.

Germello remains in the Lycoming County Prison in lieu of $90,000 bail pending a preliminary hearing scheduled for Thursday. No one was injured in the incident, police said.