Two York City district judge clerks charged with leaking police information
Two former clerks of York City District Judge Linda Williams are now criminally charged — one for allegedly providing a warning to a double-homicide suspect about his arrest warrant, and both for allegedly releasing a York City police officer's work schedule to a third person, who also has been charged.
Solmaria "Beba" Martinez-Arce, 31, of 207 E. Cottage Place in York City, is charged with the felonies of unlawful use of a computer and conspiracy to commit that offense, as well as two misdemeanor counts each of obstructing the administration of law and hindering apprehension or prosecution and one count of reckless endangerment.
She is accused, in part, of telling an unidentified person that York City Detective First Class Jeff Spence had just obtained a warrant from Williams for a man identified as RBC, according to charging documents. That unidentified person then alerted RBC's mother, who alerted him, documents allege.
"It could have been disastrous," said Spence, who confirmed he had obtained a search warrant for RBC's residence.
But by the time Spence went to Williams' office on July 10 to request that warrant, his fellow officers and detectives had already arrested the man and secured the residence, Spence said, making the advance warning moot.
The search warrant was issued in relation to the June 12 double homicide of brothers Angel Berrios, 21, and Abdiel "Tito" Vazquez-Soto, 19, according to the detective. Durell Cotton Jr., 19, of York remains imprisoned on two counts of homicide for the slayings.
RBC has not been charged in the slayings, Spence confirmed.
Martinez-Arce is represented by defense attorney Heather Reiner, who said her client has never been in trouble before and disputes some of the allegations in charging documents.
"Her involvement is unfairly portrayed in what's being alleged," Reiner said.
Martinez-Arce, whose job was terminated by York County, maintains she did not leak information about Spence's search warrant, according to the attorney.
Second employee: Reiner said her client became caught up in the activities of former co-worker Brittney Mae Koons.
Koons, 29, of 129 E. Fifth Ave. in North York, is charged with the felonies of unlawful use of a computer and conspiracy, as well as two counts of obstructing the administration of law and one count each of hindering apprehension or prosecution and reckless endangerment.
The former employees of Williams remain free on $25,000 unsecured bail each. Unsecured bail means they didn't have to post any money but could forfeit that amount if they miss court proceedings.
York County spokesman Carl Lindquist confirmed neither woman is still working at Williams' office, or for the county in any capacity. Martinez-Arce's last day was July 31; Koons' last day was Aug. 3, he said.
Also charged is Koons' friend, Beronia Maurice Jackson Jr.
Friend charged: Jackson, 26, of 770 Tioga St. in York City, is free on $10,000 bail, charged with conspiracy to commit unlawful use of a computer and conspiracy to commit obstructing the administration of law.
Charging documents allege Jackson was wanted by York City Police Officer Ben Praster, and that he had Koons leak him Praster's work schedule "so he could engage in illegal activities" without being spotted by Praster.
Staff members of York County's 19 magisterial district judge offices have access to a software program that allows them to view the work schedules of police officers in their jurisdiction, which allows them to schedule hearings that require officers' presence, documents state.
"Koons would look up Praster's schedule and advise Jackson when and where he would be scheduled to work," documents state. "Martinez-Arce advised that if Koons was not in the office, Koons would send a text message to her, (Martinez-Arce) would look up Praster's schedule and advise Koons who would advise Jackson."
Koons admitted to investigators that she sent Jackson text messages about Praster's work schedule, as well as a computer screen shot of his schedule for the entire month of June, charging documents allege.
In an unrelated April 3 incident, Praster was struck in the chest with a stray AK-47 round while sitting in a city police outpost doing paperwork. The round first went through Praster's computer screen, blowing glass bits at his face, then was stopped by his ballistic vest.
'Unacceptable': York City Police Chief Wes Kahley said some of his officers learned about the alleged leaks.
Because the matter involved city officers, Kahley said he asked York County District Attorney Tom Kearney to have county detectives handle the case. County Detective Dana Ward — a retired York City officer — conducted the investigation and filed the charges.
"To be giving information to wanted criminals is unacceptable," Kahley said. "We're glad they were caught and that examples are being made of them ... especially at a time in our nation when more officers are being targeted."
The chief said such allegations are unusual, at least in York County.
"We trust the people working in these offices to handle our confidential information. The majority ... are good, hardworking people who we can trust," Kahley said. "This is stuff you hear about happening in other areas. But we're realists. ... Nothing surprises us anymore."
'Tragic consequences': Kearney called the allegations sad and unfortunate.
"It puts officers at risk of serious bodily injury," he said. "If you're going into a house or serving a warrant and (the target) knows you're coming, there could be tragic consequences. It does, in fact, put law enforcement in danger."
Such leaks can have "chilling effect," according to Kearney.
"All lives matter, including those of police officers," he said.
District Judge Williams said she can't comment about her former employees or the ongoing investigation, but confirmed being short-staffed is difficult for her remaining staff members.
"We scramble when we're at full staff," Williams said.
It is unclear whether Koons or Jackson have retained attorneys. They could not be reached for comment.
— Reach Liz Evans Scolforo at email@example.com.