Fairview cop indicted on cover-up charges

Sean Philip Cotter

A federal grand jury on Wednesday indicted the Fairview Township Police Officer charged in December with stealing thousands of dollars of cash from drug traffickers and then trying to cover it up.

Tyson Baker, 41, of Corn Hill Road in the township was indicted on charges of taking property to prevent its seizure, two counts of obstruction of justice, three counts pertaining to the filing false reports and one count of theft of government property.

He had been charged with robbery under the federal Hobbs Act, but was not indicted on that charge, according to documents.

“That is conspicuously absent,” said Jay Abom, the Carlisle-based lawyer who's representing him. "This was not a robbery."

Without that charge, Abom said, this shouldn't be a federal case.

"He will be pleading not guilty," the lawyer said. "He didn't commit these federal crimes."

Abom declined to comment  regarding possible local charges unless and until they're filed.

He still faces a maximum of 20 years behind bars on each of the obstruction and tampering charges, 10 years for the theft charge and 5 for each of the remaining charges.

Baker had been free on house detention, meaning he has to remain on his property except for occasions such as work, religious services and medical services, records state. He's not allowed to drink alcohol or use or possess drugs or anabolic steroids, and he had to turn all weapons over to the FBI, documents state. Abom said Baker remains free, and Judge Sylvia Rambo, who's now overseeing the case, has not issued an arrest warrant for him.

Baker waived a preliminary hearing scheduled for Dec. 23 two days before it was to happen, so at that point Magisterial Judge Martin C. Carlson ordered the case be presented to a grand jury, according to documents.

Tyson Baker

Baker, a 17-year veteran of the police department, was placed on administrative leave Dec. 17, when he was charged, according to the department.

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.

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.

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.

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 Sean Cotter