A Hellam Township man is now facing trial, accused of shooting himself and staging a robbery so he could delay paying a gambling debt.
Dennis Charles Schaller on Wednesday waived his right to a preliminary hearing on charges of making a false report to police and conspiracy to commit that offense. Both charges are third-degree misdemeanors.
He is free on his own recognizance and is represented by Harrisburg-based attorney Brian Perry.
The attorney said Schaller will apply for the county's Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition program, which allows first-time nonviolent offenders to avoid conviction by instead completing court-ordered requirements.
"Our goal is to get him into the ARD program," Perry said. "This was a bad decision, made at a moment of desperation. And our hope is Dennis can put this behind him and move forward."
Schaller, 51, of 520 Rockhill Lane, has fully recovered from his wound, according to his attorney, and no one else was injured.
The allegations: Spring Garden Township Police said Schaller shot himself in the lower back, then drove to a building at 630 Loucks Mill Road shortly before 8 p.m. Jan. 13 and started to walk into the building. Inside was someone Schaller owed money to, as well as a group gathered for a regular poker game, police said.
The debt was for football gambling, Perry confirmed.
Video surveillance from outside the business showed Schaller approached the door, at which point a masked accomplice came into view, police said.
Caught on video: The masked person shoved Schaller, then fired a gun into the surveillance camera and the glass door of the business before running away, police said.
Schaller later confessed he shot himself before arriving at the business, but wanted people inside to think he'd been robbed and shot, to give him more time to pay off his debt, charging documents allege.
He also made sure the staged robbery was caught on camera, according to police.
Township Police Chief George Swartz said the alleged accomplice has not been arrested, but the investigation is ongoing.
Senior deputy prosecutor Susan Emmons said it's too early in the process to comment.
— Reach Liz Evans Scolforo at email@example.com.