Your support is key 🔑
70% of our budget comes from individual members, making our work possible without paywalls.
Will you join us?
Updated Nov. 11
State Rep. Movita Johnson-Harrell was charged Wednesday with stealing more than $500,000 from her nonprofit. She spent the money on lavish vacations, fur coats and other personal expenses, the indictment alleges. Johnson-Harrell, representing the 190th Pa. House District in West Philly, is expected to plead guilty and resign.
In any other city, this would be a rare offense. In Philadelphia, political corruption is almost seasonal. Indictment days are as regular as Halloween and Christmas.
When Pa. Attorney General Josh Shapiro announced the charges, he put Johnson-Harrell’s arrest in a statewide context. She is public official No. 60 to have been arrested by his office since 2017, he said.
Billy Penn compiled the offenses of Shapiro’s five dozen arrestees.
Instead of some grand corruption scheme, the lists paints a picture of day-to-day malfeasance among small government bodies across the commonwealth.
Two-thirds of the 60 arrested over the past two years were police officers or other law enforcement officials, including prosecutors, probation and corrections officers. Charges against them ranged from falsifying police paperwork to soliciting prostitutes while on the job. There are also plenty of county officials who allegedly dipped into public coffers for their personal gain.
Some of the arrests were initially made by local police, who then passed the case onto state prosecutors.
Only six of Shapiro’s cases are in Philadelphia, where other offices often take precedent. It’s the local district attorney who traditionally brings charges against police officers and other city officials, and many of the city’s more prominent indictments — think the Local 98 case — thunder down from the federal prosecutor’s office.
60 public officials arrested by PA Attorney General since 2017
Charging information could not be found for eight of the arrested officials. This list does not include 20 additional officials who Shapiro’s office arrested on child pornography charges, such as former state Sen. Michael Folmer.
Desiree Peterkin-Bell, City of Philadelphia
In May, Peterkin-Bell, a former cabinet member to Mayor Michael Nutter, was arrested and pleaded guilty to stealing tens of thousands of dollars from city-affiliated nonprofits.
Group of Philadelphia election officials
Four Philadelphia election officials — Dolores Shaw, Wallace Hill, Thurman George and Calvin Mattox Election — were charged with illegal electioneering after a contentious 2017 special election in North Philadelphia.
Brian Fluck, West Catholic teacher
Fluck, a former football coach at West Catholic in Philadelphia, was charged over the summer with siphoning $65,000 in funds designated for the Philadelphia City All-Star Football Game.
Jyllyan Norman, teacher
Shapiro’s office charged Norman, a former secretary at Randolph Technical High School, with stealing tens of thousands of dollars from the school’s Student Activity Fund.
Robert Collins, police officer
A Wilkes-Barre police officer, he was arrested in June for allegedly forcing women to perform sex acts on him in exchange for letting them go on criminal charges.
Joshua Diddick, police officer
Diddick, a police officer in Hop Bottom, Susquehanna County, was arrested on charges for allegedly giving teen girls alcohol in 2018.
Michael Pitcher, police officer
Pitcher, an officer in Bucks County, was charged after he allegedly used his power to harass a couple for driving too slow. However, it was Bucks County detectives and the Lower Wakefield Township Police initially investigated and arrested the officer, according to the Delaware Valley News.
Michael Flanagan, police commissioner
Flanagan, a former chief in Wyoming Borough, was accused of stealing a computer in 2018.
Jaime Lopez, state trooper
This 23-year Pennsylvania state trooper was accused of slapping a man who was being arraigned on domestic charges. A jury found Lopez not guilty in 2018.
George Bottomley, constable
Bottomley, a constable in Carbon County, was arrested and pleaded guilty to seven counts of promoting prostitution in 2018, among other charges.
Erin Cawley and Anthony Kingsley, state troopers
Troopers Erin Cawley and Anthony Kingsley were arrested for hacking a woman’s Facebook account. They were cleared of the charges in June.
Brent Getz, police chief
Gentz was the police chief of a small burough of about 400 people in Carbon County. Earlier this year, he was charged with raping a child repeatedly over a seven year period.
Lackawanna County prison guards
After a year-long investigation, the AG arrested eight prison guards in 2018 on charges of sexually abusing and assaulting people who were incarcerated at women’s prison.
William McGinley, county clerk of courts
McGinley pleaded guilty this year to stealing more than $43,000 in bail funds from the courthouse where he worked in Carbon County. He was sentenced to one to three years in state prison.
Two Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board employees
PLCB employees Robert Fenstermaker and Thomas Scholl fudged inventory records to cover $30,000 in stolen booze at a Lehigh County store, Shapiro’s office alleged in 2018.
Kyley Scott, magisterial district judge
Scott, a judge in Reading, was arrested on DUI charges in 2017.
Brooke Zeiders, county probation intern
Zeiders, of Northumberland County, allegedly showed nude images of herself to juveniles she was assigned to supervise during community service.
Sean Cornick, police corporal
Cornick, a former vice unit chief in Harrisburg, has been charged twice on theft charges, most recently in 2018 for allegedly pocketing $6,000 in cash during a police raid.
Eric Bower, mayor
The mayor of Bloomsburg was charged with soliciting prostitutes in 2018. He resigned immediately after his arrest.
Justin Dunkelberger, county prothonotary
Northumberland County’s chief notary struck a plea deal this year over charges that he stole $30,000 worth of checks over a two-year period.
Thomas Radel, county chief of probation
Radel was charged with stealing $3,300 from a DUI program in January.
Jimmie Cortelyou, county chief of probation
Cortelyou admitted to stealing over $31,000 while serving at Northumberland County’s chief probation officer.
Brian Reidy, police officer
In 2017, this Blair County police officer was charged with ramming his pickup truck into another car and then fleeing the scene.
Martin Lock, county prosecutor
Lock, a deputy district attorney in Harrisburg, was arrested for allegedly spitting blood at a bouncer at Arooga’s Sports Bar in 2017. The incident happened around 1 a.m.
Jamie Quinn, police officer
Quinn, a corporal in Northumberland County, was found guilty of criminal conspiracy after his son used his department-issued phone to receive sexually explicit images of a minor.
Cheryl Lanson, county domestic relations employee
Shapiro’s office charged this Potter County government employee with embezzling money from the employee’s union.
Keshia Conway, children and youth services case worker
The AG’s office prosecuted Conway for failing to report an instance of child abuse in Clinton County.
Jennifer Sasso, county district attorney office secretary
Sasso pleaded guilty to embezzling money from government coffers in Erie County.
Andrew Thompson, police officer
A new hire to a Mercer County police force, Thompson was charged with unlawful sexual contact in 2017 with a minor and related offenses.
Miles Karson, county district attorney
This ex-Mercer County DA was sentenced to probation and community service for abusing his power to help his girlfriend.
Daniel Fisher, police department detective
This Cambria County detective resigned after being charged for lying about a sexual relationship he had with an informant.
Mark Sullivan, police officer
The AG charged Sullivan, an Allegheny County officer, with illegally searching police computers.
Jason Shady, county jail correctional officer
A former Montco corrections officers admitted to covering up for guards who beat two people who were incarcerated in 2018.
Ray Corll, police department sergeant
Corll, a Lancaster County officer, was arrested and later convicted of assault and lying under oath.
Matthew Starr, police department sergeant
A former Altoona police officer, Starr was convicted on six felony theft charges earlier this year and received five years probation.
Michelle L. Walizer and James H. Bechdel, former township supervisors
Walizer and Bechdel, former township treasurers in Clinton County, were charged in 2018 with public corruption and stealing more than $76,000.
Ryan Reese, detective
Shapiro charged this ex-Fayette County cop in 2018. Resse, a sargeant, later admitted to having sex with a 16-year-old who he recruited as a confidential informant. He was sentenced to state prison.
Margaret Sherwood, detective
In 2018, state prosecutors alleged this Pittsburgh homicide detective falsified a police report for a murder investigation. Sherwood later pleaded no contest to the charges.
Johnathan Held, county sheriff
Federal prosecutors charged Held, the Westmoreland County sheriff, with political campaign-related crimes, but the case ended in a mistrial. State prosecutors later charged Held separately with using on-duty deputy sheriffs to collect campaign donations for him.
Kyle Pisarcik, county deputy sheriff
Pisarcik, a deputy sheriff in Jefferson County, was arrested and later sentenced for forging invoices to steal funds from the K-9 unit’s bank account.
Randy Armagost, school board member
A Butler County school board official was charged with tax evasion.
Tyler Valimont, police officer
An ex-Mercer County police officer was charged and eventually sentenced for theft and prostitution-related offenses, and later started a GoFundMe to train a K-9 dog but kept the money for himself. A judge considered jail time at sentencing, but settled on probation because “I’m not sending a police officer to jail.”
Tedd Nesbit, state representative
A Mercer County state lawmaker who was arrested on DUI charges in early 2019. He accepted liability.
Bradley Winnick, chief public defender
The former Dauphin County chief allegedly directed government staff to do election work and compensated them with paid time off.
Michael Ellwood, treasurer
Ellwood, the former campaign treasurer to a Lancaster County state senator, was charged with $600,000 in theft of contributions.
- Patrick McCloskey, county constable
- Tyson Havens, police officer
- Amanda Cashner, commonwealth employee
- Nicole Dawson-Love, county district attorney staff member
- Kyle Lewis, police officer
- George Lewis, police officer
- Jesse Kerr, probation officer
- Mark Brice, county deputy sheriff