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Two ex officers indicted as part of probe into Fayette County Drug Task Force

BYLINE: Jennifer Harr

Fayette County, PA

Former Connellsville police officer Ryan Reese leaves Central Court in Uniontown Wednesday morning following his arraignment on felony charges of involuntary deviate sexual intercourse, unlawful contact of a minor, criminal use of a communication facility and corruption of minors. Reese is represented by attorney Melinda Dellarose. Roberto M. Esquivel | Herald-Standard

Two Fayette County police officers were arrested Tuesday in separate cases, one charged with having sex with a teen in exchange for dropped drug charges, the other charged with stealing a sawed-off shotgun from the evidence room of his police station.

Ryan Thomas Reese, 42, of Connellsville and Robert Kelly Jr., 32, of Uniontown were charged at the recommendation of a statewide grand jury convened in June 2014 to investigate “alleged criminal activity being committed by current and former members of the Fayette County Drug Task Force.”

He resigned as a Connellsville police sergeant in December amidst unspecified allegations of wrongdoing. The grand jury indictment revealed he had sex with a 16-year-old girl, which Reese testified was true. However, he testified before that grand jury that the girl “relentlessly pressured him into having sexual intercourse,” according to the indictment.

Reese headed the task force in 2009, but was removed from it in 2012 for having sex with an informant during a prostitution sting.

Kelly was also member of the task force until he was fired from his job as a Masontown police officer in 2013. He admitted to stealing a gun logged into evidence at the borough department, according to the charges filed against him.

The grand jury returned presentments against both men last week, and a representative of the state Attorney General’s office declined comment on whether additional indictments would be forthcoming.

According to the Reese indictment:

The alleged victim in the case first encountered Reese in October 2013 when she was 15, and he raided her mother’s Connellsville home. The indictment noted that the officers who came to the home identified themselves as "drug task force," though Reese was removed from the task force almost one year before. They searched the home, and Reese told the girl that she would be charged as a juvenile for possession of drug paraphernalia, the teen testified before the grand jury.

At some point after the raid, Reese asked the girl to come to the Connellsville police gym where he was working out alone, she testified. He put a weight vest on her, and when she complained about the weight, he took it off of her, touching her breast, she testified.

On the girl’s 16th birthday in November 2013 — after her boyfriend was jailed on drug charges — Reese brought her a T-shirt and a cookie as a gift, she told the grand jury. The next month, he picked the girl up in a Camaro and told her if she did controlled drug buys, she and her boyfriend would be treated with leniency, she testified.

When the girl told him she didn’t want to be a “snitch,” Reese told her there were other ways she could “work off charges.” The teen testified she believed Reese would reduce her charges if she performed sexual favors, and told him no.

Reese drove the girl to a local fast food restaurant and asked her if she would perform oral sex, the girl testified. When she refused, she told the grand jury, he kissed her.

When the girl’s boyfriend was released from prison, each agreed to make three controlled drug buys. In exchange, his charges would be reduced and hers would be dropped.

When Reese patted her down before and after the first buy, the teen testified he grabbed her breast. After the second buy, the girl testified, Reese told her they were running out of time to complete the third buy. When she asked what she could do to get the charges dropped, he unzipped his pants and asked her to perform oral sex, she testified.

The girl told the grand jury she had sexual intercourse with Reese five or six times, including once in the garage of the Connellsville police station.

“The sex acts almost always occurred on police property or in police vehicles or Reese’s personal vehicle. Reese had the apparent authority to keep (the alleged victim) and her boyfriend in or out of jail. Reese used his relative age and position of authority to manipulate (the teen) into performing sex acts or having sex acts performed upon her,” the indictment stated.

Reese’s cellphone records for that time period were obtained and presented to the grand jury.

“The records indicated that the only person that Reese communicated with more than (the alleged victim) during that time period was Reese’s wife,” the indictment stated.

During his testimony before the grand jury, Reese admitted to having sex with the teen, but denied asking her for sexual favors in exchange for leniency on the drug charges.

“He said that she relentlessly pressured him into having sexual intercourse, and he eventually gave in,” the indictment stated.

He testified during one instance, he used a white T-shirt to clean up after they had sex, and threw that shirt away. The indictment indicated that police were following Reese that night, confiscated the shirt after it was discarded, and sent it for DNA testing.

“Reese admitted that he called 911 to investigate the license plate number of a vehicle he thought was following him immediately after having sexual intercourse with (the alleged victim),” according to the indictment.

Reese faces felony charges of involuntary deviate sexual intercourse, unlawful contact with a minor and criminal use of a communication facility, and misdemeanor counts of official oppression and indecent assault. He is free on a $10,000 bond.

According to the Kelly indictment:

A trooper testified before the grand jury that he was called by Uniontown police after they recovered firearms at Kelly’s Uniontown home when they were called there to respond to a domestic dispute on Sept. 20, 2013.

When police got to the home, Kelly’s live-in girlfriend, Angela Schultz, told them there were illegal weapons there, and took them to three sawed-off shotguns with barrel lengths of less than 18 inches.

One of the guns had a partially removed sticker on it.

“The evidence sticker had the letters ‘TF’ visible on it, which the police officers determined could possibly have stood for ‘task force,’” according to the presentment.

Schultz showed police photos of Kelly shooting the guns, and police obtained cellphone video of Kelly shooting a fourth gun that was not at the home.

Police called borough police Chief Joe Ryan who told them he was missing one gun from the borough’s evidence room.

“Chief Ryan initially indicated to (police) that the shotgun was back in evidence and he did not know how it go there. Later, Ryan told (police) that he knew Kelly Jr. had the gun and made arrangements with Kelly Jr. to get the sawed-off shotgun back. Ryan put the sawed-off shotgun back in the evidence room himself,” the indictment stated.

When Kelly was interviewed by police, he initially told them he bought three of the guns at a flea market, and later told them that he bought them from someone “in the law enforcement community” for $30 per gun. He told police that he would not reveal the seller, and reportedly said his intention was to barrel the guns so he could sell them.

“When Kelly Jr. was asked about the fourth sawed-off shotgun, he admitted taking it from the Masontown police department evidence room and returning it to Chief Ryan, upon Ryan’s request, on Route 21 near the residence of Kelly Jr.’s father.”

That gun had an obliterated serial number, police alleged.

Kelly is charged with felony counts of theft, receiving stolen property and possession of a firearm with an altered serial number, and four misdemeanor counts of having a prohibited weapon. He is free on $25,000 unsecured bond.

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