Ex-Northeastern superintendent heading to prison in 2 weeks

Liz Evans Scolforo
York Dispatch
  • Attorneys wouldn't say whether Minnich's work-release issue has been resolved -- only that he will reapply for the program.

Northeastern School District's former superintendent must report to prison in two weeks to begin serving his sentence for assaulting his ex-wife's boyfriend.

Shawn Minnich appeared in York County Court on Wednesday, Nov. 22, for a 10 a.m. hearing on his post-sentence motion as to whether he would 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)

But the hearing started about an hour late because his defense attorney, Chris Ferro, and prosecutors had private discussions beforehand, then met in chambers with presiding Common Pleas Judge Michael E. Bortner.

Once the hearing began, Ferro and senior deputy prosecutor Sarah Buhite told the judge they expect to agree on a restitution figure in the case, which they will submit to the judge in the near future. The restitution will be for medical expenses incurred by Minnich's victim, Christopher Leh.

Ferro then withdrew his motion regarding Minnich's work-release issue and asked Bortner to set a new prison-reporting date.

Bortner ordered the former superintendent to report to prison at 9 a.m. Dec. 6 and adjourned the hearing.

"We are going to re-apply to the work-release program," Ferro said outside the courtroom.

Work-release issue: Ferro declined to say whether the issue of Minnich's work-release eligibility has been resolved. Buhite declined comment.

The defense's now-withdrawn motion had stated that Minnich wanted to withdraw his guilty plea if he was not accepted into work-release.

More:Ex-Northeastern superintendent granted prison stay

Part of Minnich's negotiated plea agreement with prosecutors was that he would be allowed in the outmate work-release program, but he was refused entry, according to Ferro.

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

Wednesday afternoon York County spokesman Mark Walters told The York Dispatch that Minnich doesn’t meet the criteria for work release at this time. 

The background: 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.

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 her friend, Leh, who was on the phone with 911.

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

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.

"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.'"

Shawn Minnich

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.