New federal charges for Conewago Twp. gadfly
A federal grand jury has indicted Conewago Township gadfly Chad Stoner on more federal charges, this time accusing him of mailing threatening communications.
Stoner, 29, of the 900 block of Copenhaffer Road, mailed letters on Sept. 17 and Dec. 25, 2016, according to his superseding indictment, filed Aug. 2 in Harrisburg's federal court.
The two letters each contained "a threat to injure the person of another," according to the indictment.
Stoner has been in York County Prison for more than a year — since Aug. 5, 2016 — meaning the alleged letters would have been sent from there. Prison officials can legally listen to inmates' phone conversations and inspect their incoming and outgoing mail.
The indictment does not identify the recipients of the alleged letters or whether they were sent to the people Stoner allegedly made threats about.
The U.S. Attorney's Office on Friday, Aug. 11, declined comment about the new allegations.
Trial postponed: The superseding indictment — called that because it supplants Stoner's first indictment — caused trial to be continued for Stoner and his co-defendant girlfriend, Emily Winand, according to court records.
Federal prosecutors filed for the trial continuance Aug. 3, court records state. Trial had been set to begin Aug. 7 but is now scheduled to start Oct. 2, records state.
"Subsequent to the indictment of Stoner and Winand, law enforcement officials learned of the expanded scope of their criminal activity, including mailing threatening communications, possessing additional firearms and ammunition and obstructing justice by concealing and destroying evidence, among other criminal activities," the motion states. "Based on this additional evidence, on August 2, 2017, the grand jury returned an eleven-count superseding indictment against both defendants."
Maintains innocence: Davis Younts, Stoner's defense attorney, said he could not immediately comment on the new indictment, but he noted Stoner maintains his innocence and that the case is expected to go to trial, as opposed to ending with a plea agreement.
Younts confirmed Stoner is facing a lengthy federal prison sentence if convicted on all charges.
Stoner was already indicted in federal court with transmitting an interstate communication containing a threat to injure police officers and Conewago Township officials, conspiracy to commit that offense and being a felon in illegal firearm possession, according to court records.
Stoner's new indictment also adds two additional counts of being a felon in illegal possession of a firearm, specifically a Smith & Wesson M&P15 assault-type rifle and .44-caliber Ruger Blackhawk handgun.
Obstructing justice? The indictment adds counts against Winand for allegedly obstructing justice by hiding the assault-type rifle for Stoner and for allegedly trying to destroy or "corruptly conceal" firearms so they couldn't be seized and used against Stoner in court.
Winand also is accused of aiding and abetting Stoner in obtaining or keeping the assault-type rifle.
Stoner and Winand, 27, also of Conewago Township, remain accused of conspiring and agreeing to post a video a year ago on YouTube of Stoner allegedly making threats at the Conewago Township building.
In the video, he suggests the municipality "could turn into Houston" — he meant Dallas — and added, "That's where they shot all them cops."
Stoner's original indictment alleged he possessed three guns despite being a convicted felon prohibited from possessing firearms, and he is still accused of those offenses as well.
Township clashes: Stoner clashed with Conewago Township officials for about two years, according to his former defense attorney, Farley Holt.
WATCH VIDEO OF CONFRONTATION:
Northern York County Regional Police said they were called to the township building about 7:15 p.m. Aug. 3, 2016, by supervisor Chairwoman Lorreta Wilhide, who reported that Stoner was causing a disturbance at the meeting.
A video of the encounter, posted on YouTube, shows Stoner began speaking during the public-comment section of the meeting but was stopped and told to speak at the microphone. He refused.
After more back and forth, Stoner said, "Either we can stand here and argue and tie this whole meeting up for your simple, arbitrary and capricious rule, or I can continue on as I was and then I can sit down, and you don't have to deal with me anymore."
Wilhide responded, "OK. Hold up. Just a minute. I'll make a suggestion —" but was cut off by Stoner, who said: "Uh, no. Public comment is not over. You cannot supersede my public comment after the meeting has already started."
'Jack-booted thugs': When Wilhide responded she believed she could, Stoner took umbrage.
"No you can't," he told her. "I will not allow you to continue on. You better call your jack-booted thugs and have 'em get over here."
Wilhide called police, who responded and arrested Stoner after he refused to walk outside with an officer.
For that encounter, Stoner is charged in York County with disrupting a public meeting and disorderly conduct.
The next day, he and Winand went into the Conewago Township building and spoke with township manager Lou Anne Bostic.
Stoner asked to be placed on the agenda for the next township supervisors meeting regarding "official corruption between the Northern Regionals and Lorreta Wilhide ... and Lorreta Wilhide's clear and present prejudicial attacks that she is taking upon me."
'I have a feeling': He then told Bostic: "I have a feeling — now this is just my personal belief — I think if she continues to act in the way she is, I think Houston, Texas, is gonna turn into Conewago Township."
Stoner, who police said had a handgun and a large sheath knife strapped to him at the time, then said, "That's where they shot all them cops."
Officers reviewed security footage from the township building and determined the large revolver in the holster Stoner was wearing "appeared to be a real firearm," documents allege.
Police filed a firearms charge against Stoner alleging he violated the state's concealed-weapons law when he got into his car with the gun on his hip, according to Holt. They also charged him with making terroristic threats.
Lawyer says no threat: Holt previously told The York Dispatch that Stoner never threatened to shoot police.
"He's basically saying unless things change ... bad things are going to happen," the attorney said. "Not that he's going to do bad things."
Holt said there's a long history between Stoner and the township, and he maintains that Stoner is in jail "for expressing his First Amendment rights — his political free speech."
— Reach Liz Evans Scolforo at email@example.com or on Twitter at @LizScolforoYD.