A Spring Garden Township man who police said staged a fake robbery to delay paying a gambling debt has avoided conviction on his charges and could have his record expunged.
Dennis Charles Schaller was admitted into the county's Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition diversionary program on Tuesday morning. ARD allows first-time offenders to avoid possible convictions by instead completing a set of court-ordered requirements.
Defendants admitted into ARD don't have to admit guilt and can have their records expunged if they successfully complete the program.
Schaller, 51, of 520 Rockhill Lane, had been charged with making false reports to police and conspiracy to make a false report.
He was accidentally shot by his stepson, Darren T. Haines, who helped him pull off the caper, Spring Garden Township Police have said.
Dropped gun: When Schaller confessed to investigators, he initially said he shot himself in the lower back before he and his stepson staged the robbery, according to police.
But while being questioned by detectives, Haines admitted 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, police said.
Schaller has fully recovered from his wound, according to his defense attorney, Brian Perry.
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.
Poker game: 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 approaching the door, at which point Haines 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 state.
Caught on camera: He also made sure the staged robbery was caught on camera, according to police.
Haines, 26, of Friendship Avenue in Hallam, pleaded guilty in May to making a false report and criminal mischief/damage to property. He avoided prison time and was instead ordered to pay $1,417.68 in restitution and court costs.
Haines was not charged for the accidental shooting.
York County District Attorney Tom Kearney said Schaller has no criminal record. He also said the police officer who investigated the case and the prosecutor assigned to it both recommended Schaller be admitted to ARD.
Conditions: Schaller's ARD conditions include completing counseling to address gambling-addiction issues, writing a letter of apology and performing 50 hours of community service, Kearney said.
Schaller's defense attorney, Brian Perry, could not be reached for comment.
— Reach Liz Evans Scolforo at email@example.com.