Fireworks, a cemetery and a lewd video: Detective recounts the wild case of local tax collector

Aimee Ambrose
York Dispatch

Keith Ramsay had nothing to say — just lightly shook his head “no” when asked for comment — after he faced a judge while charged with five criminal counts spread over two separate cases.

A detective for the county prosecutor's office, however, had a lot to say about the accusations against North York Borough’s 56-year-old elected tax collector, with 13 pages recounting two separate incidents.

In one case, the DA's office accused Ramsay of sending an obscene text to a North York councilperson as an invitation to start a sexual relationship last month. That investigation led to a separate one of still further allegations that Ramsay had fired a gun at least twice during an argument at his property last year, then attempted to cover it up by setting off fireworks.

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Keith Ramsay

Ramsay, who was arraigned in magisterial district court Friday, faces misdemeanor counts of harassment and open lewdness in the first case. In the second, he’s charged with misdemeanor counts of simple assault, tampering with evidence and disorderly conduct.

According to court records, Ramsay allegedly called and chatted with the councilperson on the night of Nov. 2, Election Day, after they had appeared together at the polls. During the call, Ramsay allegedly asked if the councilperson wanted to start a sexual relationship.

The councilperson — who has declined comment — hung up on Ramsay, according to details by a York County District Attorney’s Office detective in a probable cause affidavit. The York Dispatch is not naming the victim because it is a case of alleged sexual misconduct.

Two days later, on Nov. 4, Ramsay allegedly texted the councilperson again. This time, prosecutors said, he sent a 30-second video clip of himself performing a sex act.

“The video lasts about 30 seconds and a TV can be heard in the background,” the affidavit states. “Accompanying the video was a text from Ramsay stating, ‘something to think about.’”

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The victim didn’t reply, and Ramsay later texted an apology with, “Guess you didn’t like that,” the document shows.

The councilperson told the detective the situation was reported to the Northern York County Regional Police Department on Nov. 12, though the affidavit shows the department received the complaint Nov. 16. A couple of days later, the case was turned over to the DA’s office due to the department having a conflict with Ramsay serving as tax collector.

Ramsay was later interviewed by a detective as part of the investigation. According to the affidavit, he admitted he called the victim about starting a sexual relationship and that he later texted the lewd video of himself. He reportedly told the detective he wanted the victim to know he was serious about his offer.

“He did state that he is lonely and felt as though [the victim] was also lonely and thought that the two of them could get together in a relationship,” the affidavit states.

The victim also filed a civil complaint and received a temporary sexual violence protection order against Ramsay on Nov. 22. A hearing in that matter is scheduled to be held next week.

Earlier in the investigation, the detective wrote in the affidavit that he called a number to speak to Ramsay and ended up speaking to his now-ex-wife, Angela. Over the course of the call, Angela Ramsay brought up allegations that the tax collector had committed a crime at his home in the 100 block of Olympia Avenue and managed to cover it up last year.

Angela Ramsay reportedly told the detective how she had confronted a group of people who she claimed were partying and making noise at Lebanon Cemetery, a historically Black cemetery in North York, behind the Ramsay home the night of June 13, 2020.

The situation escalated, with Angela Ramsay claiming someone spat on her and another person threw beer on her. According to the affidavit in the assault case, Keith Ramsay came out of the house during the dispute and allegedly fired a handgun into the ground as a warning shot, then fired the gun again as the group dispersed to their vehicles and fled.

After the people fled, Angela Ramsay told the detective, Keith picked up the shell casings from his gun, took security cameras down from the house and then set off fireworks in their yard. The affidavit recounts how, by the time the local police arrived, Keith Ramsay convinced them the fireworks were the source of the fired shots that had been reported.

During the investigation, officers from Northern York Regional described the fireworks that were found as Silver Salute crackling sparklers, according to the document.

One of the people involved in the dispute outside the Ramsays’ home spoke to the county detective earlier this month, saying family members had gathered at the cemetery to celebrate the lives of two murdered relatives. According to the affidavit, the person told the detective there wasn’t a party, though a vehicle briefly played loud music.

Nonetheless, the gathering drew noise complaints from Angela Ramsay. The two sides argued, and the individual who was part of the group of mourners accused Angela Ramsay of throwing a beer at the group, the affidavit shows.

Angela Lynn Ramsay

The situation escalated, court records recount, when Ramsay allegedly pulled a gun and fired two shots over the mourners' heads. As the group fled, the witness said, Ramsay fired two more shots into the air toward the vehicles.

The group called 911 at a nearby business and made a report to police. But the case was apparently dropped by Northern York Regional police, according to the affidavit.

When interviewed about the assault allegations, the detective said the tax collector stuck to the fireworks story. But the detective pointed out the fireworks that were collected from his yard weren’t noise makers.

“He was informed that I watched videos on the internet of the fireworks in question being set off and that in no way, shape, or form was it anything like a gunshot and would not be mistaken as one,” the detective stated in the affidavit.

After that and learning what Angela Ramsay told the detective, Keith Ramsay apparently changed his story. According to the affidavit, he admitted that he fired a handgun into his yard, once to try to get control of the situation at his home and the second about a minute or two later as the group dispersed. He denied firing his gun into the air.

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“He saw this group threatening them and the fact that his wife got hit with a beer and spat on, this all became a triggering point to him which caused him to go inside, retrieve a handgun, and come out and fire two shots into the ground,” the affidavit states.

Ramsay also admitted, the document shows, that he set off the firecrackers in his yard to cover up the gunshots.

During the arraignment, District Judge Jennifer Clancy set a total of $40,000 in unsecured bail for Ramsay, denying his attorney’s request for him to remain released on his own recognizance. Ramsay was not in police custody during the hearing, and he was not ordered to jail, but was allowed to enter into a supervised release through the local probation department. He was also ordered not to contact victims or witnesses in either of the two cases.

“It’s disturbing to me that the activity ran to another official,” Clancy said, while setting bail in the harassment case.

Clancy also scheduled a preliminary hearing to be held in the case on Feb. 1, at which point she’ll decide whether to move the case to Common Pleas court.

After the hearing, Ramsay declined to comment on the cases.

“There will be no comment at this time,” said Michael Fenton, Ramsay’s attorney.

Angela Ramsay herself was accused of pointing a gun and threatening to shoot Keith Ramsay in November 2020, or about five months after the alleged assault incident at the cemetery. Police alleged at the time that Angela Ramsay had accused Keith of cheating on her after finding a text conversation on his phone.

Angela Ramsay pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor count of simple assault in June and was sentenced to two years of probation, court documents show.

— Aimee Ambrose can be reached at aambrose@yorkdispatch.com or via Twitter: @aimee_TYD.