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AMBRIDGE (KDKA) — Ambridge’s suspended police chief, accused of stealing and threatening officers, is headed to trial.
James Mann was in court Wednesday afternoon for a preliminary hearing.
He is facing a long list of charges, accused of threatening and improperly suspending one of his officers, as well as submitting fraudulent time sheets.
At the hearing, Mann was held for trial on all counts but one.
One charge of collecting short-term disability while ineligible was dismissed.
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Troopers say he cost the borough more than $67,000.
Mann’s attorney says the chief was following past practices.
“The things that they say constitute double dipping are a normal practice within that police department, so if you want to have police officers running their own payroll and doing all of that, leave tracking, you know, they start to develop their own norms and that’s what happened,” defense attorney Stephen Colafella said.
Mann is also accused of threatening officers, false swearing and insurance fraud.
Colafella says it’s a witch hunt.
“It’s all part of what has been a clearly demonstrated pattern of the mayor trying to get rid of Chief Mann. He made it clear, as we learned in the last proceeding, that he wanted him gone,” he said.
Mayor Drewnowski said last August, however, he and the chief parted on good terms.
“We shook hands just before he was ready to leave … Everything was fine,” Drewnowski said at the time.
Mann says he’s in for the fight.
“There was nothing I did intentionally. I didn’t defraud anybody. There was no deceit. Everything was done talking to the borough manager. It’s just crazy,” Mann said.
Mann has been suspended without pay from the department.