DANVILLE — Former Mahoning Township Police Chief Chad Thomas is expected to enter a guilty plea next week related to huffing compressed air while on duty.

Thomas is scheduled to appear May 4 in Montour County Court before President Judge Thomas James Jr.

Attorney Anthony McDonald previously told Montour County Judge Gary Norton he expected Thomas to enter a plea.

Norton had recused himself from the case.

Attorney Michele Kluk is prosecuting the case for the state attorney general’s office.

Berwick District Judge Richard Knecht was assigned by the Columbia County Court administrator’s office to the case since Montour County District Judge Marvin Shrawder recused himself from holding the preliminary hearing because he dealt with Thomas on numerous cases.

The state attorney general’s office charged Thomas, 41, who replaced Robert Blee in January as police chief, Dec. 3 with two counts each of sale or illegal use of certain solvents and noxious substances.

Thomas remains free on his own recognizance and on administrative leave.

He served an unpaid suspension June 22-26 with the township supervisors not disclosing the reason for that suspension.

According to the charges, Thomas’ eyes fluttered and he was unresponsive after inhaling compressed air dust cleaner May 27.

Other police officers were in the department when he was allegedly huffing from the can of compressed air. One officer said he thought Thomas was suffering a seizure.

An internal investigation included a written admission by Thomas about the huffing incident, according to the charges.

Former Montour County District Attorney Rebecca Warren referred the investigation to the state attorney general’s office.

A police officer for 18 years, Thomas worked for the Mahoning Township department for five years.

Email comments to kblackledge@thedanvillenews.com. Follow Karen on Twitter at @KLBlackledge.


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