Harrisburg police officer charged with theft, still collecting paycheck

Written by Ben Allen, General Assignment Reporter | Jul 22, 2014 5:07 PM

Photo by Ben Allen/witf

Harrisburg Mayor Eric Papenfuse (at podium) looks on as Chief Thomas Carter (facing camera) speaks to another Harrisburg Police Department official.

(Harrisburg) -- State Attorney General Kathleen Kane is filing theft charges against a Harrisburg city police officer, but Jennie Jenkins will still collect her salary until court proceedings begin.

Jenkins faces five charges for allegedly stealing money from the Harrisburg Police Athletic League (also known as H-PAL).

Although she has been suspended, the city has continued to pay her $60,000 plus annual salary since last October, as required by the negotiated union contract.

Kane says Officer Jenkins submitted false timesheets that represented her volunteer hours as work hours, and sometimes vice versa.

"She wasn't given the proper supervision and that lack of supervision coupled with special treatment, led to a poor environment, a lack of accountability and to low morale within the police department," says Harrisburg Mayor Eric Papenfuse.

The alleged theft totals about $7,000, according to the criminal complaint.

Papenfuse and Chief Thomas Carter insist those responsible for the problems have left the Department, and all hirings are now on merit.

"The charges are serious and represent a breach of trust. They do a serious disservice to the brave men and women who are fighting to keep our streets safe and protect our city of Harrisburg," says Chief Thomas Carter.

But  he says Jenkins should be commended for re-starting H-PAL.

"We are not up here today to criticize Officer Jenkins. We are only saying that what happened will no longer happen again in this city."

Once Jenkins's case goes before a judge, the city will suspend her without pay, but that could be weeks from now.

Chief Carter says an internal investigation affirmed the Attorney General's findings. He says as a result, Harrisburg officers can no longer lead H-PAL, and all time will have to be volunteered.

In a statement, the Board of H-PAL said it was "troubled" by the allegations.

Jenkins did not return a call to her cell phone requesting comment.

The full statement from H-PAL's Board is below: 

"The Board of Directors has been notified of the arrest of Jennie Jenkins involving her misuse of HPAL funds.  The Board cooperated with the Office of Attorney General and the Harrisburg Police Department in their investigations of this matter. The Board is troubled that funds meant to enhance the lives of our children were allegedly stolen and never benefited our youth.

"In recent months, the Board has made substantial changes that will improve the organization’s financial management processes, including safeguards to ensure the financial accountability of the organization. The HPAL Board recently elected Steven Guinter, President; Robert Martin, Vice President; and hired James “Jimmy” Jones to provide his expertise in programming activities, volunteer recruiting, and fundraising services.

"The Board is steadfast in its commitment to help our children, and be good stewards of our donors’ funds. President Guinter said, “We are dedicated to working with Mayor Papenfuse and Chief Carter to make Harrisburg PAL a stronger organization.  We are committed and will continue to provide the evidence based programs and proven crime prevention activities for our children in the communities we serve.” 

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