Two federal charges dismissed for fired Fairview Twp. cop
- The FBI conducted an undercover sting on now-fired officer Tyson Baker and said he stole planted cash.
- Baker, a 17-year officer with Fairview Twp., was initially placed on paid leave and later fired.
- His trial is scheduled to start Sept. 6 in Harrisburg's federal courthouse.
A former Fairview Township police officer charged federally for allegedly stealing cash from drug traffickers has succeeded in getting two of his eight criminal counts dismissed.
Tyson Baker remains free on house arrest pending his trial, which is scheduled to begin Sept. 6, according to court records.
Baker's attorney had sought to have all the former officer's charges dismissed, but presiding U.S. District Judge Sylvia Rambo ruled Wednesday that Baker must face six of the eight charges at trial.
Two of those counts allege he stole thousands of dollars from a drug dealer and from someone he thought was a drug dealer but who actually was an undercover FBI agent investigating Baker. Two other counts accuse Baker of falsifying reports. The remaining two counts allege Baker stole money belonging to the federal government and that he made false statements.
The two counts dismissed Wednesday by Rambo had alleged Baker obstructed an "official proceeding." Those charges stemmed from a Dec. 16 sting on Baker conducted by the FBI.
FBI sting: During the sting, Baker and a confidential informant were working the same shift and the informant pulled over a "drug trafficker," according to court records. The trafficker was actually an undercover FBI agent driving a car through Fairview Township while carrying $15,000 cash and 400 OxyContin pills, records state.
The informant called Baker for backup. A short time later Baker was contacted by the FBI and told the "trafficker" was under federal investigation; Baker was instructed by the feds not to search the vehicle, according to records.
Despite that, Baker had the vehicle towed to a nearby garage, where he searched it, records state.
During that warrantless search, he found and removed one of the hidden cameras in the vehicle, and also took $3,000 cash, the U.S. Attorney's Office alleges. He gave a third of that cash to the FBI's confidential informant, who returned it to the feds, records state.
Baker "never submitted as evidence any of the cash or the camera that he removed," according to court records.
Rambo, in a memorandum to her ruling, noted she dismissed the two obstruction charges because there was never an "official proceeding" for Baker to obstruct — the FBI had made it up as part of its sting of him.
Baker, 42, of Corn Hill Road in the township, maintains his innocence, defense attorney Jay Abom has said.
The background: Federal authorities arrested Baker in December, after which Fairview Township placed him on paid administrative leave.
On Feb. 29, township supervisors voted to fire him, effective immediately. Baker was a township officer for 17 years.
According to court records, the confidential informant told the FBI that Baker was the sole provider for his family and made $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.
Baker was seen on occasion with large amounts of cash, records state. 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 court records, which allege the informant believes Baker stole between $5,000 and $10,000 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 court records.
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, records state. The informant said the prostitute has since moved out of Fairview Township and is in fear of Baker, officials allege.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter at @LizScolforoYD.