Spring Garden Township Police have filed charges against the stepson of a Hellam Township man accused of staging a robbery so he could delay paying a gambling debt.
Darren T. Haines, 26, of 326 Friendship Ave. in Hallam, helped stepfather Dennis Charles Schaller fake the robbery, police said. He will be charged with the third-degree misdemeanors of conspiracy to make a false report to law enforcement and criminal mischief, according to court records.
He has not yet been arraigned on the charges, which were sent to him through the mail, according to the office of District Judge Walter Groom, which has set a preliminary hearing date of May 7.
Schaller, 51, of 520 Rockhill Lane, remains charged with making a false report to police and conspiracy to commit that offense.
The second arrest has revealed new details about the crime, according to township Police Chief George Swartz.
Shot stepdad: When Schaller confessed to police, he initially told them he shot himself in the lower back before he and his stepson staged the robbery, according to police.
But Swartz said investigators now believe Haines accidentally shot Schaller.
While being questioned by detectives, Haines said that prior to arriving at the site of the faked robbery, he dropped his gun in Schaller's car and it went off accidentally, hitting Schaller in the back, according to the chief.
"(Schaller) has not refuted Haines' statement that it was an accidental shooting," Swartz said, adding Haines at this point is not facing charges for the shooting.
Schaller has fully recovered from his wound, according to his defense attorney, Brian Perry.
The allegations: Police said after being accidentally shot, Schaller went forward with his plan and drove to a building at 630 Loucks Mill Road shortly before 8 p.m. Jan. 13. 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 — Haines, police said — came into view, police said.
Haines 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 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.
— Reach Liz Evans Scolforo at firstname.lastname@example.org.