Retired York police captain facing work-related theft charges
A retired York City police captain whose complaints to state investigators about the department led to internal discipline for two of his union representatives will now be charged with theft.
Between January 2012 and January 2014, Russell Tschopp gave himself "education bonuses" that the York City Police Department provides for officers who have college degrees, according to charging documents filed by the Pennsylvania Attorney General's Office.
During that two-year period Tschopp, as part of his administrative captain's duties, compiled the annual list of officers owed the bonuses, then turned over that list to city finance department officials, documents state.
The annual education bonus is paid in January, officials said. Officers with associate's degrees receive $200; those with bachelor's degrees receive $400; and officers with master's degrees receive $600, records state.
Tschopp in 2012 submitted a $200 education bonus for himself, and in 2013 and 2014 he submitted a $400 education bonus for each year, documents allege.
But he should not have collected those bonuses — which total $1,000 — because he never graduated from college, documents state.
Investigators with the attorney general's office began looking into the issue in April at the request of York County District Attorney Tom Kearney.
Internal investigation: York City Police's internal affairs inspector, Craig Losty, conducted an internal investigation, which happened before the state attorney general's office became involved, York City Mayor Kim Bracey said.
Losty reports directly to her, she said, and his findings were forwarded to the district attorney's office.
Bracey confirmed it would have been a conflict of interest for the York City Police department to conduct the criminal investigation into Tschopp's alleged thefts, which is why it was passed on to Kearney.
"I expect our employees and our police officers, across the board, to uphold the law and uphold the oath they take," she said. "The majority do that every day."
Still, the mayor said, she knows there will be "bad apples" in every workplace.
"I'm truly disappointed," Bracey said. "This individual came highly recommended (for promotion to captain). ... But I'm not going to give a pass to anyone. We have held the line on what we expect of our officers, in more ways than one."
Safeguards added: Since Losty's investigation, more safeguards have been added to the system to ensure this can't happen again, according to the mayor.
"(Tschopp's bonuses) got through several layers of bureaucracy," Bracey said. "We've since added another layer. This is ironclad now."
Bracey said she has "the utmost confidence" in the police department.
Tschopp, 48, of Walnut Bottom Road in West Manchester Township, is facing two counts of theft by deception, both graded as first-degree misdemeanors.
He did not return phone messages seeking comment, and it is unclear if he has retained an attorney.
An initial arraignment date has not yet been set, according to the office of District Judge Ron Haskell Jr.
Tschopp was hired by York City Police in September 1990 and retired April 1, according to city records. Prior to retiring, he had been on an extended involuntary leave of absence.
Complained to AG: In the spring of 2014, Tschopp told two of his White Rose Fraternal Order of Police union officials that he suspected other officers of wrongdoing, specifically "criminal conspiracy and theft by certain officers" on the city's narcotics unit, according to letters sent from city administrators to those union officials.
City officials maintained those two union officials, Officer Michael Davis and then-Detective Jeremy Mayer, poorly handled Tschopp's accusations of a purported criminal enterprise within the police department by accompanying that officer when he took his concerns to the state attorney general's office.
Davis and Mayer accompanied Tschopp to the attorney general's office in Harrisburg at his request, where he told state investigators about his allegations, officials have said.
City officials have said the AG's office and the York County District Attorney's Office declined to investigate Tschopp's concerns.
Disciplined: FOP President Davis and Mayer, who at the time was treasurer, were placed on administrative leave on April 8, facing charges of conduct unbecoming an officer for taking Tschopp's concerns to a state agency rather than sending the allegations up the chain of command, as they should have.
They were facing termination, but an agreement reached in May between York City Police and the FOP led to Davis and Mayer being reassigned to less choice assignments instead of being fired. Mayer was reimbursed for all his unpaid suspension time, and Davis was reimbursed for all but five days of his unpaid suspension, according to the agreement.
An internal investigation concluded Tschopp's accusations were unfounded, according to city officials.
Bracey said the charges against the retired captain are a separate issue from his complaints to state officials.
"The evidence speaks for itself," she said.
— Reach Liz Evans Scolforo at email@example.com.