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Theft charge against Ambridge police chief dropped, but case still headed to trial

Megan Guza
| Wednesday, Oct. 10, 2018, 4:30 p.m.
Ambridge Police Chief James Mann
Ambridge Police Chief James Mann

Four charges against Ambridge police Chief James Mann were dismissed or withdrawn during a preliminary hearing Wednesday, including two of four felonies filed against him.

Mann, 61, of Baden will head to trial in the spring on felony charges of threatening harm to influence the judicial process and witness intimidation, as well as a summary charge of harassment and retaliation and obstruction of justice — both misdemeanors.

One felony charge of insurance fraud was withdrawn, along with a misdemeanor count of false swearing. A judge dismissed a charge of felony theft by deception and a misdemeanor charge of official oppression.

Mann will be formally arraigned on the remaining charges Nov. 28. A trial date is set for March 4. His attorney, Stephen Colafella, could not immediately be reached for comment.

Mann was charged in August after a months-long investigation by state police that uncovered alleged harassment, falsified time cards and threats against his own officers.

The investigation began in February when Ambridge Mayor David Drewnowski told police a man in disguise — believed to be an Ambridge police sergeant — left a letter at his door alleging Mann was filling out fraudulent time cards while on sick leave, according to the criminal complaint.

The letter alleged that Mann, who was off duty due to injury for most of 2017, had used all of his paid time off but kept getting his full wage by filing time sheets for sick time, compensatory time and vacation time, police wrote in the complaint.

He signed the alleged fraudulent cards himself.

At least 10 Ambridge officers told state police Mann had threatened them and harassed them, calling himself “a caged animal,” according to the complaint.

Mann has been on administrative leave since April.

Megan Guza is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Megan at 412-380-8519, mguza@tribweb.com or via Twitter @meganguzaTrib.

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