Fired Plum police officer vows to fight to get job back
Fired Plum police officer Jeremy Cumberledge has vowed to fight to get his job back after the Allegheny County District Attorney's Office's decision to not refile a felony charge of hacking into the borough's computer records.
Cumberledge, 31, said he welcomed the “great news” when contacted about the DA's decision last week.
Plum District Judge Linda Zucco on June 11 dismissed a charge of unlawful use of a computer filed against Cumberledge, who had been a borough officer for seven years before council members voted on March 11 to fire him.
“We felt it was made clear during the preliminary hearing that even though we had all the elements of a favorable prosecution, the court felt that since Cumberledge did not personally gain from his actions, either financially or otherwise, the charges were not warranted,” district attorney's office spokesman Mike Manko said.
Fraternal Order of Police Lodge No. 91 attorney Ronald Koerner who represents Cumberledge in his bid to get his job back said Monday that he will work to get a date for a hearing before an arbitrator.
“We are very happy they (the district attorney's office) made that decision,” Koerner said.
“We will get a hearing date and get this thing litigated before an arbitrator.”
Koerner said arbitration decisions typically are handed down 30 to 45 days after a hearing.
Michael DeRiso, Cumberledge's defense attorney, called the criminal case against Cumberledge “ridiculous” and praised the DA for “doing the right thing” by nixing the prosecution that began April 10, nearly a month after borough council fired the officer.
Cumberledge was not successful in obtaining unemployment benefits.
A June 20 order from the Pennsylvania Unemployment Compensation Board of Review revealed that Cumberledge was caught on camera accessing the Plum chief of police's computer files.
Cumberledge eavesdropped on the “network profiles” of other officers and the “medical documents and financial information” of other employees — including “user names and passwords to banking files” — before erasing his browsing history from the police station terminals, according to the board's decision.
DeRiso said the unemployment ruling was “as absurd as the initial charges,” with the administrative judge refusing to let him call witnesses refuting the borough's probe.
DeRiso said Cumberledge is appealing the unemployment benefit decision and predicted that the former officer would win that, too.
Police Chief Jeffrey Armstrong and Plum manager Michael Thomas declined comment.
Plum Councilman Leonard Szarmach said he doesn't want Cumberledge back in uniform.
“I am absolutely concerned about (the possibility) of him (Cumberledge) returning to work,” Szarmach has said. “It would not be healthy.”
Karen Zapf is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-871-2367 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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.