Conewago Twp. 'gadfly' could get decade in federal prison
A Conewago Township man described by his attorney as a gadfly — and who awaits sentencing in federal court for making threats against police and local government officials — has asked that a judge impose less than the guideline range of 10 years in prison.
Chad Stoner, 29, of the 900 block of Copenhaffer Road, remains locked up pending his sentencing, set for Thursday, July 19, before U.S. District Judge Yvette Kane in Harrisburg's federal courthouse.
On Tuesday, June 19, Stoner's defense attorneys filed a memorandum of law regarding the upcoming sentencing hearing.
In it, they note that Stoner had a difficult childhood "and experienced issues in school with other children." It does not go into detail.
The memorandum argues against a sentencing enhancement recommended in a presentencing report for the court.
The defense objection is "based on the absence of specific evidence of conduct that (Stoner) ever intended to carry out the ... threats," the memorandum states.
'Disadvantaged': It also argues that in addition to considering his "disadvantaged childhood" when crafting a sentence, Judge Kane should consider that Stoner spent little time in prison prior to being arrested for the federal offenses.
"A review of the defendant's records indicated that the defendant has not spent more than 5 months of a consecutive period of time in prison dating back as far as 2011," attorney Davis Younts argues in the memorandum.
"A sentence below the guideline range is appropriate and the Defendant respectfully asks this court for a variance from the guideline range of 120 months," Younts wrote.
Stoner appeared in York County Court on Wednesday, June 20, for a pretrial conference on his three outstanding cases, which are related to his federal case.
Senior deputy prosecutor Justin Roberts and defense attorney Farley Holt told presiding Common Pleas Judge Maria Musti Cook that the prosecution is waiting for Stoner to be sentenced in federal court before resolving his county cases.
Cook scheduled Stoner's next county court appearance for Aug. 15.
The background: A federal jury on Dec. 5 found Stoner guilty of transmitting a threat through interstate commerce (jurors found he posted threats over the internet), conspiracy to commit that offense and two counts of mailing threatening communications. Jurors determined he wrote threatening statements about police in letters to his girlfriend.
He also will be sentenced on a fifth charge after pleading guilty Nov. 28 in federal court to one count of being a felon in illegal possession of a firearm.
At Stoner's trial, Conewago Township officials testified that they beefed up security measures because they were concerned about what Stoner might do. That included installing cameras and electric buzzers at the township building and having officials park in a locked lot.
The three township supervisors started carrying handguns for protection, according to trial testimony, and made plans to install "bulletproof" glass at the transaction window. (Stoner pointed out in a letter to live-in girlfriend Emily Winand that the glass is actually only bullet resistant and that 5.56 Raufoss rounds would cut through it "like a hot knife through butter.")
Packing BB gun: Stoner went to the Conewago Township building on Aug. 4, 2016, and made a garbled threat that Conewago Township could turn into Dallas, referencing the massacre of police there.
At the time, he had a sheath knife on his belt and what appeared to be a handgun strapped to his thigh.
"Why in the world is a grown man ... walking around with a BB gun strapped to his thigh?" Assistant U.S. Attorney Joseph Terz asked jurors during his closing argument. "There is one reason he wore this gun: To intimidate."
In response to the defense theory that Stoner was all talk, Terz reminded jurors that in a letter to Winand from York County Prison, Stoner instructed her to buy armor-piercing ammunition:
"Just get as much of the 5.56 armer piercing Raufoss that you can. That's the best ammo ... for the AR. Those are the 'cop killers.' Which I think we should stock up on right now!"
Jurors also heard that when Stoner was arrested on Aug. 5, 2016, he told a Northern York County Regional police detective, "Your days are numbered."
Stoner kept inside his home safe notes that included the names of Northern Regional officers and their wives, information about their children and families and the officers' home addresses.
The background: Stoner had been clashing with Conewago Township officials and Northern Regional Police for some time when police said he disrupted the township supervisors' Aug. 3, 2016, meeting and was arrested and removed.
It was the next day that he and Winand returned to the building and spoke with township manager Lou Anne Bostic. It was to her that Stoner made his garbled statement referencing the July 2016 police massacre in Dallas.
He and Winand then posted videos of both confrontations on YouTube.
Winand, 28, was set to stand trial with Stoner but in October pleaded guilty to obstruction of justice and conspiracy to transmit a threat via interstate commerce. Her federal sentencing is scheduled for July 12.
— Reach Liz Evans Scolforo at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter at @LizScolforoYD.