Ex-deputy: Sheriff had on-duty deputies pose for campaign ad

Liz Evans Scolforo
York Dispatch
A former sergeant of the York County Sheriff's Office said he and other deputies were on duty in 2017 when Sheriff Rich Keuerleber either asked or directed them to change uniform shirts and pose in campaign flyer photos with Jonelle Harter Eshbach, who was running for district attorney. Keuerleber was Eshbach's campaign manager at the time.

A former York County sheriff's deputy has told The York Dispatch that state investigators several months ago questioned him about a political campaign ad in which he appeared, he said, while on duty and at the direction of Sheriff Rich Keuerleber.

Former Deputy Sgt. Richard Reincke confirmed for The York Dispatch that he and other deputies posed for photos with Jonelle Harter Eshbach during her 2017 election campaign for York County district attorney.

Keuerleber served as Eshbach's campaign manager in 2017.

According to Reincke, he and several other deputies were called into Keuerleber's office while on duty and told to put on uniform shirts from other departments to pose for photos in front of York County's ceremonial courthouse steps with Eshbach.

Richard Keuerleber

It was neither an order nor a request, he said — it was the sheriff directing them to do it. Reincke said if the sheriff asked you to do something, you did it. 

Reincke said he doesn't remember having to punch out his time card before going to the photo shoot and doesn't think he did.

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Several former and current deputies first alerted The York Dispatch to the campaign ad shoot, and they said they were told the deputies in the photos were on duty when the sheriff asked or directed them to participate.

It's illegal for government officials and employees to engage in campaign activities during work hours.

Keuerleber did not return phone messages seeking comment on Tuesday, Sept. 17.

Jacklin Rhoads, spokeswoman for the state attorney general's office, was unable to immediately respond to questions about the possible investigation on Tuesday, Sept. 17, she said.

Eshbach responds: Last week, Eshbach told The York Dispatch she would have had no way of knowing whether the deputies who participated in the photo shoot were on duty or off duty.

"But it's my understanding they were on their own time — willingly — for me, at (Keuerleber's) request, because they obviously are his people," she said.

A former sergeant of the York County Sheriff's Office said he and other deputies were called in while on duty to change their uniform shirts and pose for campaign photos with Jonelle Harter Eshbach's 2017 election bid for district attorney. Eshbach said she assumed they were on their own time.

Eshbach confirmed Reincke's account that the deputies wore uniform shirts from departments outside York County. "We blurred out the badges," she said, so it wouldn't appear that any specific police department was supporting her.

Reincke spent 10 years as a York County sheriff's deputy and held the rank of sergeant when he quit in spring of 2017, he said.

He, like other deputies with whom The York Dispatch has spoken, alleges there's a toxic work environment in the sheriff's office.

Reincke was one of the deputies honored with the sheriff's life-saving medal and with the Red Cross Heart Saver Hero award for saving the life of retired Senior Magisterial District Judge Paul Diehl Jr., who suffered a heart attack in the judicial center in January 2017.

— Reach senior crime reporter Liz Evans Scolforo at levans@yorkdispatch.com or on Twitter at @LizScolforoYD.