Former Springdale cop Mark Thom sentenced to prison
As a Springdale Borough police officer, Mark E. Thom Jr. made dozens of arrests.
Next month, he'll begin serving his own prison sentence.
On Thursday, the discredited 32-year-old ex-sergeant was ordered by U.S. District Judge Mark R. Hornak to serve one year and one day in prison on charges of violating a suspect's civil rights.
The sentence is the culmination of almost two years of allegations and investigations involving Thom and his conduct as a Springdale police officer. He was accused twice of civil rights violations.
In the case for which he was sentenced, Thom was accused of repeatedly punching and using a Taser on a Tarentum man while the man was handcuffed and in the back of Thom's police car in December 2011.
In 2012, FBI agents and U.S. Justice Department civil rights specialists started to investigate that case as well as other accusations against Thom and some of his fellow Springdale officers. Thom could have been indicted by a grand jury in 2013, but officials offered him what amounts to a plea bargain.
Thom agreed to plead guilty to a single charge of violating civil rights.
Criminal information, the federal equivalent of charges, was filed on Feb. 8, and Thom entered a guilty plea one month later. He resigned from the force the day before he entered the plea. Sentencing was deferred several times in 2013.
U.S. Attorney David Hickton issued a written statement saying, “The vast majority of law enforcement officials uphold the highest standard of public trust. But when someone abuses his position, we will aggressively hold him accountable.
“We argued that a prison sentence was especially just, not only for the crime he committed, but also because he was discouraging other police officers from cooperating with us and providing information.”
Before Hornak handed down the sentence, Thom made a tearful apology to his own family, the man he was accused of abusing and the Springdale community.
Thom said he “always wanted to help” as an officer and “do what's right. ... I'm sorry for not having been a better police officer and not doing my job better.”
Defense attorney Robert E. Stewart told Hornak that Thom overcame a troubled family life, losing his younger brother to drugs, yet managed to finish high school and become a police officer.
Several letters from community members were presented, all citing Thom's good character and detailing how he helped them. In addition, letters from two police officers were presented, accusing Thom of threatening them if they cooperated with the investigation against Thom.
Hornak said, given the charges and Thom's position as a police officer, a prison sentence was warranted.
Hornak told Thom, “You will never wear a badge again.”
But the judge, instead of scheduling a date for Thom to begin his sentence, allowed Thom to remain at his home until notified by the U.S. Bureau of Prisons about where and when to report for his sentence.
Thom must report to the U.S. Marshals Office in Pittsburgh no later than noon Feb. 27 if the Bureau hasn't called him before then, Hornak ordered.
Chuck Biedka is a staff writer for Trib Total Media.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Woman thwarted abduction, police say
- 2 arrested in drug raid at Arnold home
- Pittsburgh Street in Springdale closed until Monday
- Penn State New Ken celebrates ‘Unity Day’
- Dermody calls deficit top priority
- Burrell students embark on educational adventure
- New Kensington-Arnold School District considers bond issue
- Woman killed in Washington Township crash
- Army Corps of Engineers asks for more input on Parks Township nuclear dump plans
- Residents opposed to drilling, Consol subsidiary make cases in Allegheny Township
- Subdivision goes without snow removal as Buffalo Township awaits finalized deal with Maronda Homes