Former Worthington police chief held for trial on felony theft charges
A former Worthington police chief accused of stealing rifle parts from the borough was bound over for trial after a preliminary hearing Wednesday in front of District Judge James Owen in Kittanning.
William J. DeForte, 43, who was chief from July 2009 to November 2012, is charged with felony and misdemeanor counts of theft and receiving stolen property.
“It's a troubling case, if for no other reason, that you have to appear before me,” Judge Owen said at the hearing.
DeForte is accused of taking AR-15 rifle parts worth about $250, two police radios and a charger worth about $1,500, and $540 in cash from the Worthington Police Department's evidence locker. DeForte has denied the charges.
Armstrong County Detective Robin Davis, state police Trooper Joseph Zandarski and Worthington police Chief Gerald Rodgers testified during the nearly four-hour preliminary hearing.
Rodgers testified that before he became the chief, he purchased a gun from DeForte, and when that gun didn't work, he said DeForte gave him a replacement that was later found to be the AR-15 missing from the police department.
Davis testified that during her investigation for the district attorney's office she found that there was $500 to $600 missing from the evidence locker. Rodgers said that DeForte was the only person who had keys to the locker.
“No one else but DeForte had a key before he was fired,” Rodgers said.
The reason DeForte was fired in 2012 was never released. The criminal charges against him were lodged in January.
DeForte's defense attorney, Charles Pascal, argued during the hearing that between the time the stolen item were taken and when they were discovered missing, several people other than his client had access to where the items were stored. But that argument did not sway the judge at the hearing to determine if there is reasonable evidence to support the charges against the defendant.
“I am satisfied that the commonwealth has presented enough to support their case,” Judge Owen said.
Judge Owen released DeForte on his own recognizance after the hearing. The former chief declined to comment about the charges or the case when the hearing ended.
Brigid Beatty is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-543-1303 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.
- Beauty Bash will help send cancer patient, family to Florida
- George to seek 5th term as Armstrong County prothonotary, clerk of courts
- Snyder makes offer for mineral rights under polluted Ford City land
- Man robs Kittanning convenience store early Tuesday
- Armstrong targets savings by refinancing debt
- Numine man survives crash into icy river
- Armstrong spared worst of nor’easter’s wrath
- Ford City police coverage sparks concern from EMS director
- Ford City officials discuss code enforcement
- Kiski man’s death sparks calls for safety when ice fishing
- Numine man escapes tragedy when car slides down bank into river