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MAHANOY CITY — The investigation of the Mahanoy City Police Department involving about $10,000 missing from an evidence room has expanded due to new allegations of additional missing money.
State police were at the borough police station on Tuesday to search for evidence involving the additional allegations from people who contacted Schuylkill County District Attorney Christine Holman that money confiscated when they had been arrested was not returned when they were released.
The original investigation into the missing $10,000, which is ongoing, led to the suspension with pay of borough police Cpl. Michael Dissinger on April 27 by the Mahanoy City Borough Council at a special meeting.
At that same meeting, then police Chief John C. Kaczmarczyk had his unexpected retirement request accepted by the council. At this time, no charges have been filed from the investigation. The money had been seized in a drug arrest in 2015 and was in the possession of the borough police, but in early 2016 when the case had gone through the county court, Holman's office requested the money to be forwarded to her office, with a portion to go to the defendant and the remainder to go the county Drug Task Force.
After multiple requests, Holman contacted the state police to investigate the matter. With Dissinger on suspension and Kaczmarczyk no longer on the force, the borough council promoted full-time officer Charles Kovalewski to officer-in-charge at the May 10 meeting, and hired Thomas J. Rentschler as a full-time officer. The state police investigation widened due to at least a half dozen complaints received by Holman and the police investigators. "The state police did a full investigation and that revealed some other people who came forward telling some interesting stories," Holman said.
"These individuals came forward with accusations of alleged theft of them and the police went into the evidence room, and by a process of elimination, and determine if the money or evidence that was allegedly seized wasn't there, then they're able to successfully charge certain crimes against a particular officer. I'm not sure if any other officers would be implicated." Holman was in contact with the state police about the new search.
"I was on the phone with PSP today giving some advice as far as opening envelopes and making sure our chain of custody is secure," Holman said. Holman praised the assistance of Kovalewski and Rentschler in the investigation and the work they did to organize the police evidence room, which Holman described as "atrocious" in April. "There has been a lot of cooperation that we're thankful for from Officer Rentschler and Officer-In-Charge Kovalewski," Holman said. "Rentschler had started going through the evidence and logging it and trying to get the place in order. Myself and Chief Detective Dolly Malec toured the police department and the evidence room about two weeks ago and it was looking 100 times better than previously.
I know the PSP has been in contact with Rentschler and Kovalewski and they (PSP) have been overseeing what was going on." Holman said the state police continue to take calls about any information that will help in the investigation. "I do wholly expect that criminal charges will be filed against an officer who was the target of the investigation," Holman said. "If that money ($10,000) hasn't been located in the evidence room, that would give them (state police) the probable cause to file the criminal charges because that money should be in the evidence room."