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Current, former Ambridge police officers indicted

| Monday, Aug. 31, 2009

One current and one former Ambridge police officer pleaded not guilty today to federal civil rights and obstruction of justice charges.

A grand jury accused Richard Heitzenrater, 60, of Ambridge of using excessive force during the Feb. 20 arrest of David Andrew Baker, 41, of Ambridge. Baker is awaiting trial on state charges of public drunkenness, indecent exposure, open lewdness, corruption of minors and disorderly conduct.

During the arrest, Heitzenrater struck and kneed Baker in the head and body, according to an indictment. Heitzenrater has since retired from the police force, said Margaret Philbin, spokeswoman for the U.S. Attorney's Office.

The grand jury also indicted Heitzenrater and Ambridge police officer Robert Kuzma, 50, of Ambridge on charges of conspiracy and obstruction of justice by destroying data held on the police department's video recording system.

U.S. Chief Magistrate Judge Amy Reynolds Hay released both men on a $30,000 unsecured bond, which means they aren't required to post the money but will owe it if they fail to make any of their court appearances.

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