The York Dispatch (Pennsylvania)
BYLINE: ELIZABETH EVANS - The York Dispatch
West Manchester Township, PA
A fired West Manchester Township Police detective facing hundreds of charges for allegedly stealing drugs from his department's evidence room is now facing trial.
Steven Edward Crider, 55, of Lilac Road in the township, appeared in the office of District Judge Barbara Nixon on Wednesday morning to waive his preliminary hearing, according to Nixon's staff. The hearing had been scheduled for 1 p.m. Thursday.
Crider, who remains free on $25,000 unsecured bail, had been on the police force about 32 years and was one of three officers with access to the evidence room, state police said.
Police allege Crider stole drugs -- primarily cocaine -- from the evidence room between November 2001 and April 8, 2009, and snorted and smoked them.
Crider is accused of stealing drug evidence in more than 100 criminal cases, state police said, sometimes replacing the drugs with chalk.
He also allegedly tampered with official evidence records and state police crime-lab records to cover up his thefts, police said.
The charges: He faces a total of 461 criminal charges, according to court records, including counts of forgery, tampering with public records or information, theft, tampering with or fabricating physical evidence, possession of a substance by an unauthorized person and possession with intent to use drug paraphernalia.
The state Attorney General's Office is prosecuting the case at the request of York County District Attorney Stan Rebert, who said his office had a potential conflict of interest. That's because so many prosecutors know Crider, he said.
Crider was terminated on April 13, three days after a hearing in which West Manchester Township Manager Kelly Kelch presented evidence against Crider, and in which Crider had an opportunity to respond, according to Kelch.
According to charging documents, Crider's alleged thefts came to light when a trial was about to begin for two alleged drug dealers arrested by West Manchester Township Police. Those men are Jomo Barnett, 37, of York and Darien R. Wallace, 21, of Pittsburgh, both of whom were charged with cocaine possession with intent to deliver.
Case 'compromised': On April 8, as the jury was being seated, an attorney representing Crider walked into the courtroom and advised the prosecutor that evidence in the case had been "compromised" because Crider had stolen it, according to Crider's arrest affidavit.
The drug trial was postponed, and charges against Barnett and Wallace were later dropped.
Rebert has said his office is reviewing all the drug cases that were brought by West Manchester Township Police to determine whether charges can go forward or need to be dropped.
Closed cases will also be reviewed, Rebert said, and he hasn't ruled out the possibility his office could ask a judge to overturn convictions.
In the wake of Crider's arrest, township officials are looking to bolster security for their police department's evidence room, Kelch has said.
Reach Elizabeth Evans at firstname.lastname@example.org or 505-5429.
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