PA: Grand jury indicts former Elizabeth Borough police chief for stealing heroin from evidence locker

It’s new fallout from actions he pleaded guilty to in 2019.

Former Elizabeth Borough police Chief Timothy Butler has been indicted by a federal grand jury on one count of theft of government property.

For nearly a year-and-a-half, he was allegedly stealing heroin evidence from federal criminal cases and using the drug himself.

It’s new fallout from actions he pleaded guilty to in 2019.

Butler had pleaded guilty before an Allegheny County judge to stealing drugs from a police evidence locker for personal use. The new federal indictment of him stems from the same case and the same evidence.

U.S. Attorney for Western Pennsylvania Cindy Chung announced the new federal indictment of Elizabeth’s former police chief on Wednesday. The indictment said the theft happened from June 2017 through December 2018.

Butler was sentenced to 45 months probation in 2019 after pleading guilty to stealing and using heroin being stored in an evidence locker by his own police department.

“I’m sure that it affected the community, as far as the public trust within the police department because you had a chief of police that stole evidence out of the evidence room,” current police Chief William Sombo told Pittsburgh’s Action News. “We have worked very hard to regain the trust of the people in the community, and it has shown tremendously that we’ve been effective in doing that.”

Sombo and Elizabeth Mayor Barry Boucher said they don’t think the revival of the case will impact Elizabeth Borough now.

“No, not at all, because everyone knows the path we’re on is pretty positive and pretty professional,” Boucher said. “At that time, the town was starting to go through a little bit of a renaissance, and they were kind of upset about the black eye of this. But they forgot about it very quickly. We hired a new chief with a lot of experience. The rennaissance of the town, with the shops and such, is still happening. So, they’ve pretty much forgotten about it. ”

Sombo said they “strive to work toward bettering the law enforcement perception of the public anyhow. So that’s where we’re at. We’re moving on. What happened in the past is in the past and this police department is moving forward. We have a whole group of new officers here and we’ve done everything we can to regain the trust of the public and that’s where we’re at.”

Heroin that Butler admitted to stealing was evidence to prosecute federal cases. Now his theft is a federal case.

What happened to him shows the impact addiction can have on anyone.

“That’s every day, yeah. I mean, I don’t want to comment on the health issue,” Boucher said.

“It’s a common thing now, today,” Sombo told Pittsburgh’s Action News 4. “People get addicted on pills because of pain and they graduate to the heroin, and I sympathize with it. But it’s still illegal.”

If convicted, Butler could face up to 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000.

The FBI conducted the investigation. Butler was a member of a federal drug task force at the time of the alleged crime. The drugs were considered federal seized property.

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