E. Manchester Twp. supervisor defends manager, blames media for reporting felony charges
East Manchester Township's head supervisor defended township manager Dave Gentzler on Tuesday night and said the media is depriving Gentzler of due process by writing about his recent arrest and felony charges.
Steven H. Gross Jr., chair of the board of supervisors, said the right to due process is what "keeps America great" and prevents it from becoming a "third-world dictator" country.
"We don’t get ahead of ourselves with accusations and charging people with things that don’t happen or twist the facts," Gross said.
The York Dispatch broke a story May 4 that Gene David Gentzler, who goes by Dave Gentzler, had been arrested for allegedly using zip ties to restrain his ex-girlfriend before pointing a gun at her stomach and threatening to kill her, according to charging documents filed by state police.
At a meeting Tuesday night, Gross directly addressed The York Dispatch's reporter in his statement regarding the situation. He then banged his gavel to prevent her from being heard when she tried to correct the record.
"We’re not having a discussion," Gross said.
Every story about Gentzler's arrest has cited charging documents and police accounts, which are public records.
Gross also claimed Tuesday that The York Dispatch had falsely accused the board of supervisors of holding illegal executive sessions to discuss Gentzler's employment.
But a story published May 6, which Gross appeared to be referencing, instead cited a Pennsylvania Sunshine Act expert, who said the executive sessions were permitted under state law so long as official board action was taken in public view.
Gentzler is on administrative leave pending an investigation, and Gross announced Tuesday that the leave is unpaid.
Township officials refused this past week to say whether Gentzler was being paid while on administrative leave, claiming that was confidential personnel information.
Allegations: State police say Gentzler, 61, was at his ex-girlfriend's home in Red Lion on Saturday, May 2, when she told him she no longer had feelings for him. Their break-up had begun in March, police said, and Gentzler was at her house to talk about it.
Gentzler got angry and confronted the woman in her kitchen, where he pushed her against the wall, tied her hands with zip ties and threatened her with a handgun to force her upstairs to the bedroom, charging documents state.
He then allegedly tied her ankles to the bedposts, put a rope around her neck and taped her mouth shut before pointing the gun at her stomach and telling her he planned to kill her and then kill himself, police said.
At one point, police said, Gentzler brought in a hammer from another room and told the woman he was going to knock out her teeth.
Police said the woman was able to talk to Gentzler and he eventually untied her from the bedposts. When she thought he was asleep, she escaped and called 911, police said.
In their investigation inside the woman's home, police said they found cut zip ties in a trash can, along with pieces of duct tape with long strands of hair stuck to it.
They also found a handgun on the nightstand in the bedroom and an unspent bullet on the floor, charging documents allege.
Gentzler is charged with the felonies of burglary and aggravated assault, the misdemeanors of unlawful restraint, false imprisonment and simple assault, and summary harassment.
As of Tuesday, he had been released from York County Prison on $50,000 supervised bail.
His preliminary hearing is scheduled for June 1, according to court documents.