Former Coatesville detective pleads guilty to stealing from police

Posted: April 11, 2014

A former Coatesville detective once honored for his service and civic engagement admitted in court Wednesday stealing thousands from the department where he worked for 17 years.

Gerald Pawling, 42, pleaded guilty in Chester County Court to more than 100 crimes, including lifting cash envelopes from the evidence room and filing a fake insurance claim in the department's name.

As nearly a dozen of his former colleagues looked on, Pawling admitted stealing more than $60,000 from the Coatesville Police Department, Police Benevolent Association, and Police Athletic League. Prosecutor Carlos Barraza said the Coatesville officers, including Chief Jack Laufer, were there as victims in the case.

Chester County District Attorney Thomas Hogan has called Pawling a "common thief" who fooled the public, his fellow officers, and his friends for years.

Pawling's attorney, Daniel Bush, said the former detective turned to theft because of "a poor personal financial situation." But he said Pawling's crimes did not erase his contributions in Coatesville, which include organizing youth sports leagues, working more than 50 homicide cases, and spearheading child-abuse investigations, work that led to his being honored in 2011 by the county's crime victims center.

"The good far outweighs the bad," Bush said.

Barraza said Pawling was facing "significant" jail time but declined to discuss the sentence his office would request. A sentencing date has not been scheduled.



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