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More charges brought against ex-Coatesville detective

Daily Local News,
Coatesville, PA

In this file photo, Coatesville Detective Gerald Pawling investigates a shooting in the Ash Park Apartments parking lot in Coatesville. Photo by Tom Kelly IV

The Chester County District Attorney’s Office on Wednesday announced a third round of charges, including a count of felony insurance fraud, filed against former Coatesville Detective Gerald Pawling.

Pawling, a 43-year-old who accepted an early retirement package from the Coatesville Police Department in 2012, was arrested for a third time Wednesday, this time on felony charges of insurance fraud, tampering with evidence, and theft. Pawling was arrested twice before, once last August and once in January, amid accusations that he stole more than $55,000 from the department’s officer union, a youth charity and the police station’s evidence room.

One of the items purchased with the stolen funds was a Nikon D40 camera, according to the District Attorney’s Office. That camera was the item that led to the new round of charges, officials said.

According to a criminal complaint filed by investigators, in 2009 Pawling collected $1,875.16 from Travelers Insurance Co. after filing an insurance claim that reported the camera, a 12-24mm lens, a GPS unit, and cash were stolen from a vehicle.

The camera and lens were reported stolen from the Coatesville Police Department earlier that year, according to the complaint.

After discovering documents related to the insurance claim, investigators began to examine computers that were seized during earlier searches of Pawling’s Coatesville home.

Forensic experts examined photographs that were stored on the computers’ hard drives and discovered that many of the pictures were not only taken with the Nikon camera, but were also taken after it was reported stolen.

Investigators obtained a new search warrant for Pawling’s home, and during the search detectives found the camera and lens that were reported stolen in 2009. Officials said that despite the ongoing criminal investigation surrounding Pawling, the former detective did not hide the evidence of the suspected insurance fraud.

In addition to the camera equipment, investigators also discovered an additional seven Coatesville Police Department evidence envelopes inside Pawling’s home, according to the criminal complaint. The envelopes were empty, but officials said they should have contained $3,674.51.

Several other empty evidence envelopes were discovered during earlier searches of Pawling’s home, authorities said.

“These additional charges are the result of extraordinary investigative work by the Chester County Detectives,” District Attorney Tom Hogan said.

On Wednesday Pawling’s attorney, Daniel Bush of West Chester law firm Lamb McErlane, responded to the new round of charges.

“We have been aware of these charges and have been involved with the DA’s office in resolving them for quite some time. The charges really are of the same course of conduct as previously alleged, so nothing is really new,” Bush said.

Pawling was one of five senior officers who accepted early retirement packages offered by the city in the summer of 2012. After joining the force in 1995, he was promoted to the detective division in 2001 and also served as the treasurer of the Coatesville Police Benevolent Association and as the executive director of the Coatesville Police Athletic League.

Pawling remains free on $225,000 unsecured bail. A preliminary hearing is scheduled for April 1 before Magisterial District Judge Jeffrey J. Valocchi in Downingtown.

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