Northeastern's ex-superintendent released to house arrest

After less than three months in prison, Northeastern School District ex-superintendent Shawn Minnich will be heading home.

Minnich, 46, pleaded guilty to simple assault, making terroristic threats and two counts of reckless endangerment after attacking his ex-wife's boyfriend at her home in December 2015.

As part of his plea agreement, Minnich was supposed to be placed in the work release program during his six- to 23-month prison sentence.

Shawn Minnich

In the 82 days since his December 2017 imprisonment, Minnich has not been able to participate in the work release program because the victims in the case were opposed to it, his attorney, Chris Ferro, said.

Ferro filed a petition seeking early parole because of that, and on Monday, Feb. 26, Common Pleas Judge Michael E. Bortner granted that Minnich be released and serve out the remainder of his sentence on house arrest.

He will be allowed to leave for work in Lancaster, where he has a job in financial services. 

Minnich told the judge during the hearing that he will be living with his girlfriend and her children at his Conewago Township home. 

Work release: During Monday's hearing, chief deputy prosecutor Tim Barker said Bortner could impose a furlough, which would allow the court to oversee Minnich's work release. It also would take York County Prison out of the process, he said.

Shawn Minnich

However, with only a few months left on Minnich's minimum sentence, Bortner opted to allow Minnich to serve the time under house arrest instead.

The judge would not let Minnich end his house arrest sentence early for good time, which he would have been eligible for if he had stayed in prison.

"I think he is getting . . . an extension of a privilege," Bortner said.

House arrest: Under house arrest, Minnich would still have to abide by all aspects of his sentencing, Bortner reminded him.

That would include no contact with the victims, the judge said.

Minnich said in the months following the incident in December 2015, he has gone to various events that both of the victims were attending and had no problems. 

"I absolutely want nothing to do with the victims. Nothing," Minnich said.

Following Monday's hearing, Ferro said he had been optimistic before the hearing and that he was "unbelievably relieved" that Bortner ruled in their favor. 

He said Bortner's ruling was a way to fix the work release situation.

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The background: Minnich, 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 boyfriend, Christopher Leh, who was on the phone with 911.

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)

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

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 and their solicitor 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 Christopher Dornblaser at or on Twitter at @YDDornblaser.