York DA: Retired West Manheim Twp. police chief fudged official form
West Manheim Township's retired police chief is accused of filing a form that falsely claimed he had performed community service related to his drunken-driving case, according to charging documents.
Tim Hippensteel, 57, now of Penn Township, remains free on his own recognizance, charged with the second-degree misdemeanor of making unsworn falsifications to authorities by filing forged or altered documents, court records state.
On Oct. 1, Hippensteel was accepted into the county's Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition program, which allows first-time nonviolent offenders to avoid conviction by instead completing a set of court-ordered requirements, including community service.
Those admitted into ARD don't have to admit guilt. Those who successfully complete the program have their criminal cases closed and can seek to have them expunged.
Less than a month ago, in response to the new charge against Hippensteel, the York County District Attorney's Office filed a motion requesting Hippensteel be removed from ARD.
A hearing on that motion has not yet been set, according to Kyle King, spokesman for the district attorney's office.
New allegations: York County detectives filed the unsworn falsification charge against Hippensteel on Feb. 24 in the office of District Judge Linda Williams. Hippensteel waived his right to a preliminary hearing on March 24, at which point the case moved up to the county's common pleas court, according to court records.
Charging documents allege Hippensteel on Jan. 29 emailed a form to the county's ARD administrator indicating he had volunteered eight hours for Skills of Central PA Inc. on Oct. 26 and seven hours on Dec. 21.
The organization supports and assists people with intellectual and developmental challenges, as well as those with behavioral health issues, according to its website.
The ARD deputy administrator flagged Hippensteel's community-service form as being "questionable," documents state.
The form was signed by a Skills of Central PA supervisor, who noted Hippensteel had completed the work, but an investigation by Chief County Detective Arthur Smith Jr. determined Hippensteel hadn't performed that community service, charging documents allege.
The staffer who signed the form admitted to Smith that she completed the form at Hippensteel's request and said he didn't volunteer at the nonprofit agency, "nor is she aware of any volunteer hours he may have done elsewhere," documents state.
An administrative support manager at Skills of Central PA told investigators that the woman who signed the form had no authority to do so, according to charging documents.
The person who signed the form was a nurse with Skills and is no longer employed there, according to a spokesman from Skills of Central PA.
DUI case: Penn Township Police filed DUI charges against Hippensteel in March 2019.
They allege he was driving in the 900 block of York Street in the township about 12:45 a.m. Feb. 23, 2019, and crossed the center line more than once, nearly hitting an oncoming vehicle.
Hippensteel was traveling 22 mph at the time, documents state.
A test later determined his blood-alcohol level to be 0.259%, which is more than three times the state's legal limit, police said. In Pennsylvania, an adult is driving drunk at 0.08%.
Former chief: Hippensteel was chief of West Manheim Township Police from 2006 until retiring in June 2018. He initially was hired as a patrol officer by the township in June 1988, he previously told The York Dispatch.
A much-loved figure in his community, Hippensteel directed bus traffic in front of West Manheim Elementary nearly every day, parents said.
He personally investigated crimes and said his policing philosophy was that he should treat everyone the way he'd want his family members to be treated.
Hippensteel did not return a message seeking comment Monday. It's unclear if he has retained an attorney.
— Reach senior crime reporter Liz Evans Scolforo at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter at @LizScolforoYD.