Indicted Fairview Township officer fired
Fairview Township supervisors on Monday night voted to fire a township officer under federal indictment on theft and related charges
Tyson Baker's termination was effective immediately.
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.
During the township's regular Board of Supervisors meeting, Fairview Township Police Chief Jason Loper proposed terminating Baker from his position.
Loper said an internal investigation showed Baker had violated several department policies, and said his conduct was unbecoming of an officer.
"Because of the findings, we recommended he be terminated," Loper said.
One supervisor, York attorney Korey Leslie, abstained from voting, saying Baker is a former client of his and he did not think it was appropriate to vote on the future of his employment. All other supervisors voted in favor of firing Baker.
Loper said the township followed the protocol of investigating the situation internally before making a decision.
Charges: A federal grand jury on Jan. 27 indicted Baker, charged in December with stealing thousands of dollars of cash from drug traffickers and then trying to cover it up.
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.
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 allegedly "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.
A 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.
Undercover: 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 remains free on house arrest and can only leave his home for occasions such as work, religious services and medical services, court 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.
Loper said he could not comment on whether Baker was still on paid administrative leave before he was terminated.
— Reach Christopher Dornblaser at firstname.lastname@example.org.