Fairview Twp. police officer arrested by feds, ordered locked up
The FBI arrested a Fairview Township police officer Friday for allegedly stealing thousands of dollars of cash from drug traffickers, and the officer is now in federal lockup awaiting a detention hearing next week.
Tyson Baker, 41, of Corn Hill Road in the township, is charged with robbery, destruction or removal of property to prevent seizure and making false reports to federal law enforcement, according to court records.
"I am very disappointed that one of my officers would be involved in something like this," Fairview Township Police Chief Jason Loper said. "It's a rough day."
Baker was placed on paid administrative leave Friday, the chief confirmed.
He has been a township officer for 17 years, officials said.
Federal court documents against Baker, including a criminal affidavit, were unsealed Friday and reveal that the FBI and U.S. Attorney's Office had another Fairview Township officer act as their confidential informant, and that the investigation of Baker included taped conversations.
The allegations: In November, Baker "orchestrated" the theft of $2,000 in drug money seized by police during a drug raid that resulted in the seizure of about $14,000 and several pounds of marijuana, according to a news release.
The confidential informant told the FBI that Baker is the sole provider for his family and makes $89,000 a year, but despite that spent money building a "very large" home on 10 acres of property, then built a 40-by-60-foot pole barn, a putting green and an in-ground swimming pool, finished his basement and also bought a $35,000 tractor and a brand-new Ford F-150 truck, according to the affidavit.
Baker was seen on occasion with large amounts of cash, the affidavit states. The informant told investigators that days after Baker pulled over a drug dealer, he was seen "buying drinks for everyone" at a local bar, according to the affidavit, which states the informant believes Baker stole between $5,000 and $10,00 from the dealer.
$10K missing? There was $10,000 in cash seized during that vehicle stop, but the drug dealer — who was later convicted — claimed there had been $20,000 cash in the car, according to the affidavit.
The informant also said Baker was sexually involved with a prostitute who told Baker when drug traffickers would be driving through Fairview Township, and what they would have with them, the affidavit states. The informant said the prostitute has since moved out of Fairview Township and is "in fear of Baker," according to the affidavit.
In a recorded Sept. 4 conversation between Baker and the informant about a drug dealer expected to drive through the area, Baker said, "That sounds like a rip to me, a straight out rip ... that will do some good," the affidavit states.
On Wednesday, the FBI arranged for an undercover agent to be stopped in Fairview Township by township police, with help from the informant. After the stop, Baker had the vehicle towed from the scene, officials allege.
The feds had hidden $15,000 cash and 400 fake OxyContin pills in the car, and a hidden camera caught Baker going through the bag of cash and taking some out, according to the affidavit.
If convicted, he could face up to 20 years in prison on the Hobbs Act robbery charge and five years each on the other two counts, the news release states.
Chief is angry: "Part of me is angry that he put our department in this position," said Loper, who federal officials said were aware of Wednesday's sting.
The chief said part of him is sad as well, especially for Baker's wife and children.
Baker was ordered to appear before a federal judge at 3 p.m. Friday, where prosecutors were requesting he be locked up.
U.S. Magistrate Judge Martin C. Carlson ordered Baker detained, and set his detention hearing and preliminary hearing for 1 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 23, according to online court records.
'Serious risk': In its motion for detention, the U.S. Attorney's Office alleged that "a serious risk exists that (Baker) will obstruct or attempt to obstruct justice or threaten, injure or intimidate or attempt to threaten, injure or intimidate, a prospective witness or juror."
The motion also states that no bail conditions "will reasonably assure" that Baker will appear at future court hearings, and also claims Baker is a danger to the community.
Jay Abom, Baker's Carlisle-based attorney, said he had to decline comment until after he sits down with Baker to review the allegations.
Harassment case: Baker was found guilty of summary harassment in April 2011 for grabbing a man and taking him to the ground at a private social club on Jan. 1, 2011. He was ordered to pay $348.76 in fines and costs.
Baker was at the Goldsboro Fireman's Club when he grabbed Brandon Miller and took the man to the ground, police said at the time, because Miller was "running his mouth" and making threats to kill Baker and his wife, who also was at the club.
Baker previously served on the York County Drug Task Force but left prior to 2010, according to Kyle King, spokesman for the York County District Attorney's Office.
— Reach Liz Evans Scolforo at email@example.com.