Police: Prostitute who robbed john in York County tried to blackmail PA Bar Association president

Liz Evans Scolforo
York Dispatch
(Image courtesy of Ibiza2day.com)

A prostitute accused of trying to blackmail the Pennsylvania Bar Association president with a recording of them having sex is also accused of setting up a would-be sex customer to be robbed at gunpoint in a York County motel.

Emily Ann Merth, 25, who is currently being held in Allentown's Lehigh County Prison, is awaiting arraignment on her Luzerne County charges of sexual extortion, theft by extortion and promoting prostitution, according to court records. All three offenses are misdemeanors.

Luzerne County attorney David Schwager, 58, of Kingston, will be charged with the third-degree misdemeanor of patronizing a prostitute. He has not yet been arraigned, court records state. That will likely happen at the time of his preliminary hearing, scheduled for June 15.

Schwager resigned as president of the Pennsylvania Bar Association on Tuesday, according to The Associated Press, which reported that he was placed on leave from his job as assistant solicitor in Luzerne County. Schwager's defense attorney declined comment, the AP said.

Emily Ann Merth

Charging documents filed by Luzerne County detectives state that Merth posted an escort ad online and that Schwager answered it. They agreed he would meet her at a home in the 200 block of Carey Avenue in Wilkes-Barre, documents state.

Recorded the act: Once there, Schwager paid Merth money and the two started having sex — but he realized during the encounter that she was recording it on her cellphone, according to charging documents.

Schwager refused to be recorded, got dressed and left, county detectives said.

A short time later, Merth texted Schwager and demanded $1,000 or "she would post the video everywhere," documents allege; she then lowered the amount to $700.

Schwager agreed to give her the money, and on Dec. 30, 2019, went to Merth's former home on Carey Avenue to do so, but what Merth didn't know was that Luzerne County detectives were watching, according to charging documents.

Detectives said they saw her walk outside and over to Schwager's vehicle.

Merth took off on foot when she realized she was about to be arrested but was captured after a brief foot chase, charging documents state.

It's unclear why there was a 16-month delay in filing charges against Merth and Schwager.

York robberies: Fairview Township Police filed charges in May 2020 against Merth and three others after they allegedly robbed and beat a man who thought he was meeting a prostitute at the Super 8 Motel on Beacon Hill Boulevard in the township.

The man told investigating Officer Brandon Yeager that he met a woman online and agreed to pay her $200 for sex, police said.

Luzerne County attorney David Schwager resigned as president of the PA Bar Association on Tuesday, April 27, 2021, after being accused of patronizing a prostitute who later tried to blackmail him, officials said.

Police allege Merth and another woman lured the man to a room, after which their two male co-defendants — both brandishing handguns — robbed him, then struck his face when he initially refused to hand over his wallet, charging documents state.

The foursome took the wallet, which contained $200 and credit cards, and fled the motel, police said.

Merth's case remains open in York County Court. Her charges include robbery, burglary, simple assault and criminal conspiracy, court records state.

Prior robbery charges: Merth, formerly of Wilkes-Barre and both York and Dauphin counties, has previously been charged in York and Lehigh counties with robberies, according to court records.

She has been charged with other crimes as well, including burglary, theft, criminal trespass, felony drug dealing and prostitution, records state. In most of those cases, she pleaded guilty to lesser offenses.

Court records indicate that at just 24 years old, Merth was already accused of felony and misdemeanor crimes in York, Lancaster, Cumberland, Lehigh, Lackawanna and Luzerne counties.

More:Police: 4 robbed, beat man after luring him to York County motel

Northern York County Regional Police arrested Merth for the Dec. 11, 2018, robbery of a man at the Econo Lodge motel on Arsenal Road in Manchester Township. In that robbery, Merth and a man forced their way inside the victim's room and stole more than $1,300 in cash from him, police said.

In 2014, Merth and two others were arrested by the Lackawanna County Drug Task Force after police there said Merth allegedly set up a drug deal to sell someone $400 worth of heroin but tried to rob the buyer instead, according to an article from The Citizens' Voice newspaper.

Merth's defense attorney for her York County charges, Andrew Ziegler, did not immediately return a message seeking comment Wednesday.

— Reach senior crime reporter Liz Evans Scolforo at levans@yorkdispatch.com or on Twitter at @LizScolforoYD.