Former Fairview Township police officer pleads guilty to federal theft charges

Tyson Baker

Tyson Baker

HARRISBURG, PA.–A former police officer with the Fairview Township Police Department plead guilty Tuesday to federal charges stemming from the theft of money that was evidence in two separate drug cases, according to the United States Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Pennsylvania.

Tyson Baker,  42, of Etters, pleaded guilty to two counts of theft of federal funds before U.S. District Court Judge Sylvia H. Rambo in Harrisburg, according to United States Attorney Peter Smith.

No date has been set for sentencing.

As the government stated as part of the record at the guilty plea hearing, the Federal Bureau of Investigation in Harrisburg received information that Baker stole money from drug traffickers who were arrested, the subject of traffic stops, or both. On November 21, 2015, Baker orchestrated the theft of $2,000 in drug proceeds seized by the Fairview Township Police Department during a search of a residence that resulted in the seizure of several pounds of marijuana and approximately $15,000. At the time another officer with the Fairview Township Police Department cooperating with the FBI recorded conversations with Baker regarding the theft in which Baker discussed how the officer should steal drug proceeds from drug traffickers during traffic stops.

On December 16, 2015 the FBI, with the full cooperation of the Fairview Township Police Department, arranged for an undercover vehicle operated by an undercover FBI agent to be stopped by Fairview Township. Baker had the vehicle towed from the scene and, without a warrant and in spite of directions from an FBI agent not to search the vehicle, Baker searched the vehicle and stole $3,000 out of $15,000 concealed in a gym bag in the back of the vehicle. The undercover vehicle was equipped with video recording equipment that recorded Baker going through the vehicle without a warrant. On December 18, 2015 Baker was arrested by the FBI and confessed to both incidents.

United States Attorney Smith pointed out that Fairview Township Police initiated the complaint concerning Baker’s actions and that the Police Department cooperated fully with the FBI and state law enforcement in the investigation. “Law enforcement professionals recognize that a corrupt police officer is a danger to the community as well as fellow officers and that corruption only aids other law breakers. We appreciate and thank the Fairview Township Police who exposed and helped removed Baker from his position of authority.”

A sentence following a finding of guilt is imposed by the Judge after consideration of the applicable federal sentencing statutes and the Federal Sentencing Guidelines. The combined maximum penalty under federal law is 20 years. There is also a term of supervised release following imprisonment, and a $500,000 fine. Under the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, the Judge is also required to consider and weigh a number of factors, including the nature, circumstances and seriousness of the offense; the history and characteristics of the defendant; and the need to punish the defendant, protect the public and provide for the defendant’s educational, vocational and medical needs. For these reasons, the statutory maximum penalty for the offense is not an accurate indicator of the potential sentence for a specific defendant.

The case was investigated by the Harrisburg Resident Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Pennsylvania State Police, the Pennsylvania Office of Attorney General, and the Fairview Township Police Department.