NEW WILMINGTON Angered by plea agreement, council wants jail time for convicted ex-cop
The police chief urged the borough to protest.
By MARY GRZEBIENIAK
NEW WILMINGTON, Pa. -- Borough council members, angry about a plea agreement reached with a former borough policeman, unanimously agreed to ask Lawrence County Common Pleas Court that he not be given the minimum sentence.
Borough Police Chief Dick Hanna told council Monday that former patrolman Timothy Chambers has reached a plea agreement with state police and the county prosecutor's office in which 26 of 27 felony counts will be dropped in exchange for a guilty plea to one second-degree felony.
Chambers has been charged with nine counts each of burglary, possession of stolen property and theft stemming from break-ins at borough offices while he was on duty. Hanna said that each time Chambers forced open a steel curtain, jumped over a counter, and stole from a petty cash drawer, netting a total of about $500.
Guidelines: Hanna said that according to sentencing guidelines, Chambers as a first-time offender faces only a maximum six months in prison, along with a fine and a requirement he make restitution.
& quot;He could walk without any prison time at all, & quot; he said.
Calling the agreement an insult to the community, the police chief urged the borough to protest. He said the court should be asked to consider the fact that Chambers committed the crimes while armed and on duty as an aggravating circumstance. If the court agrees, the maximum sentence would increase to 10 years.
Hanna added that he and Council Administrator Sharon Edmiston were not consulted about the agreement even though they were instrumental in gathering evidence. The borough conducted most of the investigation, he said. Later he turned it over to the Pennsylvania State Police because they had a special unit with the ability to install specially disguised surveillance cameras that caught Chambers in the act.
After the meeting, Hanna asked why any plea bargain was necessary for Chambers. "Why deal at all? We got him on tape," he said.
Borough Solicitor Tom Mansell and Ms. Edmiston were instructed to prepare the letter, which will be submitted to the judge when Chambers formally enters his plea.
Legion move: In other business Monday, council agreed to let the American Legion move the veterans memorial from the old borough building on Neshannock Avenue to the middle of the yard. The legion will also install a new flagpole and add a granite stone inscribed with the names of John Robinson and Glenn McConnell, the two borough soldiers killed in World War II. The project will be funded by donations.
Council members also learned that the borough will receive a $10,000 state grant to provide walkways and lighting in the borough park.