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Former Scranton detective gets up to two years in prison for theft

BYLINE: Erin L. Nissley, The Times-Tribune, Scranton, Pa.

Scranton, PA

July 08--A former Scranton detective who admitted stealing more than $8,400 from a police evidence room was sentenced Wednesday to serve four months to two years in prison.

Lackawanna County Judge Vito Geroulo said he will allow Leonard F. Ash Jr., 42, of 3015 Jones St., to serve the first two months in the county's work release program and another two months on house arrest. Mr. Ash's attorney, Matthew Comerford, said he would file a motion for reconsideration of the sentence.

"The DA's office said they didn't oppose a sentence of probation," Mr. Comerford said. "I'm disappointed in the sentence he received."

Mr. Ash and his father left the courthouse without commenting to The Times-Tribune on Wednesday. But in court, Mr. Ash told Judge Geroulo that he had been a police officer all his life and was very sorry for what he had done.

In April, Mr. Ash pleaded guilty to theft by unlawful taking and admitted he stole more than $8,400, which had been seized in a 2001 drug investigation. The theft was discovered in the summer of 2009, when district attorney's office staffers discovered blank paper instead of cash inside the case's evidence envelope, according to court records.

In court Wednesday, Judge Geroulo said Mr. Ash previously explained that he stole the money because he had not been getting as much overtime as he had in the past. The judge admonished the former detective, saying his actions "cast a shadow on other drug investigations."

"He received a very good plea deal," the judge said. "This sentence must provide a deterrent ... to those similarly tempted."

Mr. Ash was fired in March, according to Scranton police officials.

As part of his sentence, Mr. Ash will also have to serve 200 hours of community service and repay the money he stole.

He will report to the work release program July 14, Judge Geroulo said.

Contact the writer:

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International Association for Property and Evidence
"Law Enforcement Serving the Needs of Law Enforcement"
Missing sheriffs evidence investigated
Sheriffs Office Former deputy indicted for theft;

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