FRACKVILLE, Pa. (AP) — A Pennsylvania police chief suspended for a month for allegedly using department weapons and ammunition without permission said Tuesday he was unsure how many guns he bought or sold for the department during 14 years on the one-man force.
Gilberton Chief Mark Kessler said at a news conference at his lawyer’s office that he currently has two of the guns, both M-16s, but records of the purchases and sales are locked in borough offices.
Gilberton solicitor Karen Domalakes wrote Kessler last week, asking for an inventory of the weapons currently in the department’s possession and records of guns he sold. She has not returned phone messages.
Kessler said he transferred guns from the borough for sale to other police departments, and got federal approval in making the transfers.
Kessler’s lawyer, Joseph P. Nahas, said they were concerned the borough council plans to fire Kessler before his suspension ends. Nahas said that if that occurs and is based on using borough property without permission, he will sue in federal court.
Kessler has maintained he has done nothing wrong.
Kessler said he was complying with another demand in Domalakes’ letter, that he remove any reference to his job on the videos and other online postings. The chief has posted videos online that show him shooting guns, using profanity and deriding liberals.
At the news conference, Kessler and Nahas said a borough council member approached residents of the economically depressed town in the heart of coal country, trying to drum up support to discipline the chief.
Nahas described the councilman’s actions as unethical, given that the council was taking up the issue of Kessler’s employment status. The borough council voted 5-1 last week to suspend him from the full-time, $20,000-a-year position.
“We didn’t know it was going to be kangaroo court,” Nahas said.
Kessler said Mayor Mary Lou Hannon told him before the meeting the town was facing a possible loss of its insurance coverage if he was not disciplined or terminated. Calls and messages left for Hannon and other elected officials have not been returned.