By Francis Scarcella
The Daily Item
SUNBURY — A former Sunbury and Bloomsburg University police officer who reportedly told authorities he became involved in cocaine buys because of his girlfriend pleaded no contest to a felony charge Thursday just minutes after the prosecution’s star witness testified.
After a 15-minute recess in the six-hour trial, the jury returned to its seats to learn from Northumberland County Judge William Wiest that Christopher Chilcote, 34, of Danville, had pleaded no contest to felony criminal conspiracy.
Chilcote, who avoided possible jail time for his role in the 2010-2011 cocaine ring, entered the courtroom after the recess, gathered his belongings and left without saying a word.
Wiest sentenced Chilcote in chambers to six months of house arrest and four years of probation.
“A plea deal has been reached,” Wiest told the jury. “That had been discussed previously and he has accepted the plea.”
Chilcote can also never serve as a police officer again because of the plea following the felony charge.
Assistant District Attorney William Cole was shocked by the plea.
“I didn’t expect this,” Cole said. “We are happy with the results, but anytime we can get a dirty cop off the streets, it is a win for us.”
Chilcote was arrested in 2011 after District Attorney Anthony Rosini said Chilcote was assisting in transporting cocaine and other drugs from Maryland.
Chilcote worked in Sunbury until fall 2009, Police Chief Steve Mazzeo has said, and officially severed ties with the force in May 2010.
The former officer reportedly told police that he became entangled in the criminal enterprise because of his love life, according to court documents.
Chilcote was arrested in August 2011 after a 17-month investigation that started when Point Township police began watching Robert Reichner, of Northumberland, court documents said.
Information was compiled indicating that Reichner, who became a police informant, was traveling to Baltimore to purchase cocaine to distribute throughout the Valley.
Reichner, a Northumberland County Prison inmate and the prosecution’s star witness, confirmed those claims while testifying Thursday.
Chilcote’s girlfriend, Jamie VonBlohn, of Danville, the sister of Reichner, was also arrested in connection with the drug ring. Both were sent to Northumberland County Prison before posting bail.
Reichner, who was on the stand before the 15-minute break was called, told the jury Chilcote was present during several buys and that he paid his sister’s boyfriend to drive him to Maryland as well as to give him inside information on whether police were investigating him.
As much as $6,000 of cocaine was purchased on the trips to Maryland and was brought back, cut down and sold throughout Northumberland County.
Chilcote, who didn’t have to testify, originally told police he was afraid to speak to law enforcement because they wouldn’t believe he was not part of the organization and he was just in love with VonBlohn, police said.
Chilcote told police he was jealous and whenever he told VonBlohn to avoid drugs, she would tell him she was going to use them anyway, so if he didn’t want to see her get hurt, he had two choices: He could leave her or he could be around her so he could watch her, police said.