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Prison for former York district-judge staffer who leaked info
A former clerk of York City District Judge Linda Williams must serve prison time for providing a York City police officer's schedule to her friend, who allegedly was trying to avoid the officer.
"She would never do anything to put a police officer in danger," defense attorney Dawn Cutaia said of Brittney Mae Koons. "This was really just poor judgment. ... She is truly devastated by this."
Koons, 30, of North York, pleaded guilty Wednesday in York County Court to obstructing the administration of law and conspiracy to commit that offense.
She also entered an Alford plea to a count of recklessly endangering a law-enforcement officer, Cutaia confirmed. An Alford plea is a type of guilty plea in which a defendant admits no guilt, but doesn't contest guilt either. All three charges are misdemeanors.
Koons was sentenced to 15 days to six months in York County Prison and must report there March 17, after which she must undergo a year of probation, court records state.
Her friend, Beronia Maurice Jackson Jr., remains charged with conspiracy-related offenses. His pretrial conference is set for Thursday.
Leaked schedule: Jackson had Koons leak him the work schedule of York City Police Officer Ben Praster "so he could engage in illegal activities" without being spotted by Praster, according to court documents.
Cutaia said Praster knew Jackson didn't have a driver's license, and said Jackson allegedly wanted the officer's schedule so he knew when it was safe to drive without being seen by Praster.
"She thought because anybody could get that information (on a daily basis) by calling the York City Police Department, that it wasn't as bad as it was," Cutaia said.
But York City Police Chief Wes Kahley said it was bad, and potentially could have endangered not only Praster's life but also the lives of other officers. The staffers at York County's 19 magisterial district judge offices have access to detailed schedules of officers, including when they are in training or on vacation, the chief said.
Protecting officers: "We need to be able to trust in the system that the county has our back ... and is going to protect our officers. That's what this is about, more than anything, to us," Kahley said. "We want someone like this to be brought to justice."
The chief noted that people who call the police department's main number also won't get the kind of detailed schedule to which Koons was privy.
"The bottom line is, any information that's leaked about our officers can endanger our officers," Kahley said. "And she was giving out information about an officer's schedule."
Koons immediately cooperated with police, her attorney said
"She had been working (at Williams' office) a really long time," Cutaia said. "A felony would have destroyed her life."
Second case: Koons' former co-worker, Solmaria "Beba" Martinez Arce, also remains charged for allegedly leaking information from Williams' office. She has a pretrial conference on Friday, court records state. Her charges include obstructing the administration of law, hindering the apprehension or prosecution of a suspect and reckless endangerment.
Martinez Arce 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," Spence said at the time. He confirmed he had obtained a search warrant for RBC's residence.
Already in custody: 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. of York remains imprisoned on two counts of homicide for the slayings. RBC has not been charged in the slayings, Spence confirmed.
York County spokesman Carl Lindquist previously 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.
— Reach Liz Evans Scolforo at email@example.com.