Former police chief covered for officer, destroyed evidence

Written by Emily Previti, Keystone Crossroads Reporter | Mar 16, 2016 4:08 AM

(SUNBURY) --- Sunbury police conducted a "fatally flawed" internal investigation of police misconduct allegations and preventative measures are nonexistent in the city, a three-month investigation found.

The resulting report was released Tuesday at the direction of the state Office of Open Records in response to appeals by Keystone Crossroads and local newspaper The Daily Item of the city of Sunbury's initial rejections of public records requests for the document.

Sunbury police also were "unprofessional" and "biased" in their investigation into claims that Officer Scott Hause carried on an extramarital affair while on duty and using department resources, according to the report by attorney Renee Smith of Philadelphia-based firm Ballard Spahr.

Sunbury officials have paid at least $35,000 for outside counsel on this matter, billing records show.

Those costs might have been avoided with standard policies for things like handling internal affairs investigations and using city equipment and technology, according to the resulting report.

The report includes former Chief Bradley Hare's admission that he wiped Hause's phone - twice. Hare says he did it to prevent sensitive police information from getting into the wrong hands. He told the Item Tuesday he was following past departmental practices, but now realizes that was a mistake.

Regardless of Hare's intent, the report notes, the result was the destruction of potential evidence.

Hare found out about Hause's situation from Hause himself over a year ago. At that point, Hause's relationship with city resident Jessica Troup was over, but had come up because Troup disclosed it to her husband, who told Hause's wife.

Hare delayed addressing Hause's behavior for two weeks. And he gave Sunbury Coropral Jamie Quinn one day to conduct what was her first internal affairs investigation - a virtual impossibility, according to Smith's report.

Smith says Quinn was "superficial" in her investigation because she limited interviews to Hause and Troup, with whom Hause was having the relationship, and didn't review Troup's phone records or Hause's phone - both of which were in the department's possession.

Hare ultimately put Hause on a three-week suspension (one was unpaid, the others paid with vacation and other leave time).

Both Hause and Hare remain on the department. But the former chief requested a demotion three weeks after the Ballard Spahr report was completed amid interdepartmental discord and public suspicion of a coverup.

Mayor David Persing, who knew about the internal investigation as it was unfolding, appointed himself interim chief at the end of the year pending the city hiring someone new.

The report stresses the limits of the law firm's scope during the review. But City Councilman Rick Reinert says it brought to light other, related matters still under investigation.

The next scheduled council meeting is March 28. Solicitor Brianna Apfelbaum says she's not sure if another session will be held before that.

Quinn's attorney declined comment because she says she hasn't seen the report. Smith didn't resond to calls Tuesday, nor did Hause and Hare's lawyers.

Editor's note: This story was updated to add Chief Hare's comments to The Daily Item.

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