Published: September 17, 2009
By Peter E. Bortner
Former Cass-Foster Township police Chief John R. Harley Sr. should learn today whether he will have a criminal record as the result of two incidents in 2005 in Cass Township.
Testimony concluded Wednesday, the trial’s third day, with Harley not taking the witness stand, although several of his fellow police officers did so, with some saying he has good reputations for honesty and peacefulness and others attacking the character of the witnesses against him, including the prosecuting officer.
The trial is scheduled to resume at 9 a.m. today with closing arguments to the jury by Frederick J. Fanelli, Pottsville, Harley’s lawyer, and Senior Deputy Attorney General Jonelle H. Eshbach.
State police at Frackville charged Harley, 68, of Saint Clair, with recklessly endangering another person, unsworn falsification to authority, false reports to law enforcement, intimidation of witness or victim and simple assault. On Wednesday, Judge D. Michael Stine, who is presiding over the trial, dismissed a charge of official oppression.
Police said Harley used his patrol car June 24, 2005, to strike a dirt bike driven by Ian Buffington on Valley Road in Duncott, and using the same car on July 24, 2005, to hit an all-terrain vehicle driven by Brandon Barr on or near Phoenix Park Road and Route 901.
While Harley did not testify, Fanelli presented several other officers who said the man who has served Cass and Foster townships for 25 years is one who can be trusted to tell the truth and not use violence.
“He has a good reputation for being level-headed,” said Thomas F. Hoban Jr., a Minersville police officer for 18 years. “He has a reputation for being very truthful and honest.”
Branch-Reilly Township police Chief Joseph Wenner, who has 26 years of experience, also testified Harley had “excellent” reputations for truthfulness, honesty, peacefulness and nonviolence.
Saint Clair police Chief Michael Carey said he shot a video June 23, 2006, of the scene of the Barr incident, and concluded one of Barr’s friends, who testified he saw the incident, could not have done so because of obstructions.
“You can’t see the intersection,” he said.
In addition to local police officers, four state police officers in the Bureau of Research and Development, Sgt. David Pallone and Troopers Chad Berstler, Curtis B. Getz and Michael J. Hinkle, testified that the prosecuting officer, Trooper First Class Andrea Young, did not have a good reputation for truthfulness and honesty at their workplace.
“She’s not exactly truthful,” Getz testified.
“It’s very poor,” Pallone said.