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Ex-Northeastern superintendent granted prison stay

Liz Evans Scolforo
York Dispatch
  • A York County judge ordered that Shawn Minnich be eligible for York County Prison's work-release program.
  • The prison, however, has refused to let the ex-Northeastern School District superintendent be part of the program.

Northeastern School District's former superintendent won't be reporting to prison next week for assaulting his ex-wife's boyfriend.

Instead, Shawn Minnich will remain free until a York County judge holds a hearing on his post-sentence motion as to whether he will be allowed into York County Prison's work-release program.

Former Northeastern School District Superintendent Shawn Minnich leaves the York County Judicial Center Tuesday, Oct. 3, 2017. He pleaded guilty to assaulting the boyfriend of his estranged wife. 
(Bill Kalina photo)

Minnich, 45, of Nursery Road in Conewago Township, pleaded guilty Oct. 3 to simple assault, making terroristic threats and two counts of reckless endangerment.

As part of a negotiated plea agreement, he was sentenced to six to 23 months in prison and six years of probation, ordered to undergo mental-health and drug and alcohol evaluations and ordered to follow through with any medical recommendations from those evaluations.

Presiding Common Pleas Judge Michael E. Bortner also ruled that Minnich be eligible for the prison's outmate work-release program and instructed Minnich to report to York County Prison on Monday, Nov. 6.

But Minnich was refused entry to the program by the prison, according to defense attorney Chris Ferro, who said his client is currently employed.

Ferro confirmed he filed a motion Thursday, Oct. 26, asking Bortner to order prison officials to allow Minnich into the work-release program.

Hearing scheduled: If the judge declines, Ferro said, he's asking that Minnich be allowed to withdraw his guilty plea.

Bortner set a hearing date of Nov. 22 to resolve the issue, according to court records.

In the meantime, the judge stayed Minnich's prison reporting date until after the hearing, according to Ferro.

The attorney said he's hopeful Bortner will rule in Minnich's favor so "a miscarriage of justice is avoided and a good man who made a mistake gets the deal he bargained for."

"He is the most worthy candidate for work release I've represented in my career," Ferro said. "If this guy doesn't get work release, no one deserves it."

Ferros said Minnich was refused entrance to the work-release program because of an unspecified prison policy.

He said he has "a pretty good suspicion" what that policy is but declined to elaborate.

More:Ex-Northeastern superintendent guilty of assault, making threats

The background: According to preliminary-hearing testimony, Minnich burst into ex-wife Kathy Minnich's East Manchester Township home on Dec. 4, 2015, threw her against a wall and attacked Christopher Leh, who was on the phone with 911.

Leh testified at Shawn Minnich's preliminary hearing that he, Kathy Minnich and the Minnichs' two children hid in a back bedroom before the superintendent kicked in the front door.

"He ran full force at me and knocked the glasses off my face and the phone from my hand," Leh said during the February 2015 hearing, adding that Shawn Minnich told him, "I'm going to f—ing kill you."

'I'm going to die': Leh said he used his right arm to try to keep Shawn Minnich at bay, adding that Minnich repeatedly asked Leh to shoot him.

Shawn Minnich

"He was trying to punch me. ... He was attacking me," Leh said. "He had me up against the wall. ... He (was) squeezing my throat with his hand. ... At that point I thought, 'Oh my God, I'm going to die.'"

Instead, a neighbor interceded and took Minnich to the ground until police arrived, according to Leh.

Minnich remained superintendent for about six months after being charged. Northeastern School District officials ignored repeated requests from The York Dispatch to discuss the situation.

The school board eventually terminated him in a tearful meeting after the state suspended his teaching certificate, making him ineligible to remain in his job.

— Reach Liz Evans Scolforo at levans@yorkdispatch.com or on Twitter at @LizScolforoYD.