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Former detective pleads guilty to stealing drugs from evidence room

York Daily Record (Pennsylvania),

BYLINE: Rick Lee, York Daily Record, Pa.

West Manchester Township, PA

Nov. 18--The former West Manchester Township Police detective who stole drugs from his department's evidence locker pleaded guilty to felony charges Tuesday in York County court.

Steven Edward Crider, 55, entered pleas to six counts each of forgery, tampering with evidence, tampering with public records or information, drug possession, and theft by unlawful taking.

According to court documents, Crider took cocaine, heroin and marijuana from his department's evidence locker where he was the property custodian between January 2006 and April 2009.

He was fired from the department April 13. Under the commonwealth's Public Employee Forfeiture Act, Crider should lose his pension because of the felony charges.

Crider had applied for Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition, a non-incarceration program. District Attorney Stan Rebert rejected the application in September citing the "severe nature of the charges."

Crider, who remains free on $25,000 bail, is scheduled for sentencing Jan. 8 by Judge Michael E. Bortner. Crider does not have a plea agreement the Pennsylvania Attorney General's Office and could receive a sentence ranging from probation to state prison.

Pennsylvania State Police, investigating the stolen evidence, discovered Crider took just more than 280 grams of cocaine from evidence.

While being questioned about his handling of evidence for pending and closed cocaine cases, troopers said Crider told them, "I can tell you up front right now, there's no cocaine back there."

In some cases, Crider replaced the missing drugs with sodium bicarbonate, troopers reported.

State police determined Crider stole more than 52 grams of cocaine from active cases, 148 grams from closed cases where the evidence was listed as destroyed, and more than 80 grams from 40 cases where property records and evidence envelopes were missing.

The drug thefts came to light in April when opening arguments were set to begin in the drug trafficking trial of Jomo Barnett and Darien Wallace. Barnett, 37, and Wallace, 22, were arrested in April 2008 after West Manchester Township Police seized about 100 grams of crack cocaine and more than $9,000 in cash from their home, according to court records.

An attorney representing Crider appeared before Judge John S. Kennedy and said Crider had taken and ingested the crack cocaine in the case. Prosecutors later dropped charges against the pair because the missing evidence weakened their case.

Barnett was convicted of drug charges in August in a Hanover case and was sentenced to eight to 16 years in prison.

Crider also told investigators he had stolen cocaine from cases involving August Ranalli and Ronald Woods.

Ranalli pleaded guilty in 2007 and was sentenced to three to six years. Woods pleaded no contest in March and was sentenced to 10 to 20 years.

Rebert said Crider's case was handled by the state attorney general's office and he was unaware if the drug thefts compromised any other West Manchester Township cases.

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