For The Daily Item
For the past seven years, offenders sentenced to community service by a Northumberland County judge were able to buy their way out of the punishment by giving the adult probation department a gift card. These gift cards were used for needy families for Thanksgiving or Christmas meals and also to help families of other offenders who were in need. Does this sound familiar?
Chief Zerbe of Hartleton also had a similar program where people who broke the town speed laws were allowed to buy themselves out of a threat of state fines, losing their license, circumventing local laws and they bought their way out by making a check payable to the Hartleton playground/park. Sounds similar to me.
However, Zerbe was charged by the state police on a number of charges, and Zerbe went to court and was found guilty of a felony crime for which he was disgraced, fined and never will be able to serve in law enforcement again.
But hold on to your hat because Northumberland has a judge who appears to be sweeping this all under the rug by making distribution of $4,303.04 to various organizations. This of course was done after the facts came to light, spearheaded by Rick Shoch.
Does this even have a little bit of justice served by these two examples? In my book, no.
At the very least, a lot of people, big and small, in the probation department, past and present employees could be charged with contempt of court and dereliction of duty by not following the court’s duly pronounced sentences, which are designed as punishment for a crime committed against the people of Northumberland County.
Any person having any sense of justice should insist that all the information should be turned over to the state police to conduct a full and meaningful investigation. This should be obvious to everyone.
Terry C. Bittner,