Former Cop Charged With Stealing $46k From PBA

Former Cop Charged With Stealing $46k From PBA

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CALN TWP., Pa. -

A former police officer faces charges of stealing from the Coatesville Police Benevolent Association while serving as that organization's treasurer, authorities announced Thursday.

Gerald D. Pawling, 42, of Walnut Street in Coatesville, was charged Thursday with forgery and theft for a total of 59 counts, according to court documents.

Pawling was an officer and later a detective for the City of Coatesville Police Dept. for 17 years, from 1995 until his retirement in June 2012.

As treasurer of the PBA, authorities said Pawling had access to bank accounts and was responsible for submitting financial reports to the police union, officials say.

At a news conference Thursday, Chester County authorities said a review of financial records and interviews from witnesses revealed that, between 2009 and 2012, Pawling allegedly stole $46,509 from the association by misappropriating funds, forgery and other means.

Officials said Pawling confessed to the theft in a recorded interview.

They called him "a good cop gone bad," adding that he was "admired and trusted," and he used those qualities as a smokescreen to steal from his fellow officers.

Officials at Thursday's news conference said Pawling worked tough cases and brought great results, at one point earning an award for outstanding work handling child abuse cases. He was even a local sports coach.

And they said Pawling was treasurer for the police bargaining unit, which deals with contract negotiations, being selected because he was trusted to handle money.

But Pawling was apparently running out of money because he was living above his means, investigators say. His house had a deck with a pool and hot tub in the back, along with a theater screen and a popcorn machine. He also had a horse and a trailer for it.

When money got tight, the 42-year-old allegedly wrote checks to himself or his wife from the association, on which officials say he forged names of other officers and even misspelled his name. Some of the notations were about a magic show.

When a new detective took over as PBA president, a look at the finances revealed the money coming in from magic show did not match the accounting. Checks for about $20,000 were found to be going to Pawling, and the alleged scheme unraveled.

Officials say Pawling's wife was not charged, as she didn't know what he was doing.

Court documents show that Pawling used a bond to post bail set at $200,000 unsecured.

Pawling's attorney noted later on Thursday that he and his client "have been extremely cooperative with the District Attorney's Office since we found out about the investigation."

"What am I fearful of is that the past 20 years of service that Mr. Pawling has given to the families and kids of Coatesville through his police service and volunteerism in numerous community organizations is forgotten and he is judged merely by these allegations," attorney Daniel R. Bush said. "Nothing can take away those good works."

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