Conewago Twp. 'menace' gets 12-plus years in federal prison
A Conewago Township man must serve a long federal prison sentence for threatening police and township officials as well as for illegal firearm possession.
Chad Stoner kept the names and addresses of some Northern York County Regional police officers, as well as information about their spouses and even some of their children, in a safe in his bedroom, according to federal court records.
In recorded phone conversations, he spoke of killing police and instructed his girlfriend to "stock up" on "cop killer" bullets.
He also can be seen on video telling a Conewago Township official that a police massacre could happen there, the way it happened in Dallas. A second video shows him disrupting a township supervisors' meeting.
A jury on Dec. 5, 2017, found Stoner, 30, of Copenhafer Road, guilty of transmitting a threat over the internet, conspiracy to commit that offense and two counts of mailing threatening communications for writing threatening statements about police in letters to his girlfriend.
Just before his trial began, Stoner pleaded guilty to one count against him — being a convicted felon in illegal possession of a firearm.
Because of that plea, jurors never heard that federal authorities consider him a felon. Stoner's earlier York County convictions weren't felonies, but feds consider felonies any crime for which a defendant can spend more than a year in prison.
Stoner appeared in Harrisburg's federal court on Thursday, Aug. 30, where presiding U.S. District Judge Yvette Kane sentenced him to 12½ years in prison. She also ordered him to be on probation for three years after his release and to pay a $1,500 special assessment and a $1,000 fine.
Stoner addressed the judge during the hearing, going over portions of his criminal history — which started when he was a juvenile — and minimizing his responsibility in each incident.
'Frivolous charges': He told Kane that Northern Regional Police "were filing frivolous charges against me in an attempt to silence me."
Those statements led Assistant U.S. Attorney Joseph Terz to note that Stoner has an excuse for everything and sees himself as a victim, not a perpetrator or predator.
Stoner told the judge that some of the police officers he's dealt with "amount to nothing more than ... street thugs," and called the court system an "aristocracy."
"Since I was a little boy the only thing I've ever gotten from this justice system is kicked in the head," he said. "I have a problem with organized oppression."
Stephen Stoner also spoke in court, defending his son but also acknowledging his son has a reputation of being a troublemaker.
"As Chad was growing up, whenever he seen anything that was wrong, he wanted to make it right," the father said. "And in doing so, he rocked the boat and ruffled some feathers, and of course people of authority didn't like (that). ... More often than not, they would use their power to try to silence him."
'Menace' to community: Terz said Stoner's character "simply cannot accept the voice of authority," even when he was locked up awaiting trial.
"Mr. Stoner has proven himself to be ... a total and complete menace to the community in which he's living," Terz told Judge Kane.
Terz ticked off some of Stoner's prior charges, including multiple cases of simple assault as well as carrying a prohibited offensive weapon, making terroristic threats, stalking, resisting arrest and harassment.
"He shows absolutely no remorse — zero," the prosecutor argued.
He called Stoner's list of Northern Regional officers' names "essentially a kill list" and noted that Stoner's writings and phone calls from prison showed he believed "extreme violence" was the only way to change the system.
"By his own words he poses a risk to his community," Terz said.
In imposing sentence, Kane noted that Stoner "is a young man with a very long criminal record." She called it "unfathomable" that he should wind up in federal prison considering he came from a stable family and had educational opportunities.
'Angry young man': "Yet here he is, a very angry young man" who terrorized public employees, she said.
Defense attorney Davis Younts argued during the hearing that Stoner's purpose was to draw attention to purported corruption and that his client's criminal history was exaggerated.
After the hearing, Younts told The York Dispatch he was disappointed in the length of the sentence and felt it was too harsh.
During trial, Younts' co-counsel, Jonathan Crisp, described Stoner as a gadfly.
Stoner's trial revealed that Conewago Township officials 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 even 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 prison letter to live-in girlfriend and co-defendant 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: When Stoner went to the Conewago Township building on Aug. 4, 2016, and allegedly made a garbled threat that Conewago Township could turn into Dallas, he had a sheath knife on his belt and what appeared to be a handgun strapped to his thigh, according to trial testimony.
Stoner was charged with disrupting a public meeting and disorderly conduct after his encounter at a Conewago Township board of supervisors meeting on Aug. 3, 2016.
In response to the defense theory that Stoner was all talk, Terz at trial reminded jurors that in a letter to Winand from York County Prison, he instructed her to buy armor-piercing ammunition.
'Stock up': "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!"
Terz also reminded jurors that when an officer arrested Stoner on Aug. 5, 2016, for his alleged threat the day before to the Conewago Township manager, an angry Stoner told the officer, "Your days are numbered."
And when a different Northern Regional officer arrested Stoner for allegedly disrupting an Aug. 3, 2016, township meeting, he told the officer, "You know that safety contingency plan? You're gonna need it."
Testimony revealed the township had posted a number of flyers in the building on "how to respond when an active shooter is in your vicinity." Testimony indicated the active-shooter flyers were the only safety contingency plan the township had.
The background: Stoner had been clashing with Conewago Township officials and Northern Regional Police for some time when he allegedly disrupted the township supervisors' Aug. 3, 2016, public 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 a 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 hearing is scheduled for Sept. 12.
Stoner still has pending York County cases, but he told the judge on Thursday he's been told those cases would be dismissed after he was sentenced federally.
— Reach Liz Evans Scolforo at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter at @LizScolforoYD.