A former Pennsylvania State Police trooper convicted this year of falsifying public documents avoided a jail sentence Friday when a Westmoreland County judge said trauma suffered by two overseas military tours were enough to mitigate the need for incarceration.
Common Pleas Court Judge Tim Krieger conceded that Chad Corbett, who served 11 years in the state police before retiring with a disability in 2017, should be held to a high standard but that he could not overlook his Army service and resulting mental health issues he still endures from his deployments.
“I do not believe there is any sense to incarcerate Mr. Corbett,” Krieger said during the sentencing hearing. “He will never be a police officer again, and he will suffer all the consequences of being a convicted felon.”
Krieger, a Navy veteran, rejected a prosecution request to send Corbett to jail for 11 1/2 to 23 months and order him to serve three years on probation.
Corbett, 40, of New Derry, was convicted in February of a felony charge of falsifying public records and a misdemeanor count of making a false statement. Prosecutors said Corbett intentionally misrepresented his criminal record on March 6, 2018, when he completed required paperwork in order take back ownership of two service revolvers at the Army-Navy Store in Latrobe.
At trial, Corbett maintained he simply made a mistake when he failed to disclose pending felony charges related to allegations he physically and sexually assaulted a woman in September 2017. Those counts were eventually dismissed on March 23, 2018, more than two weeks after the alleged falsification incident, as part of a deal in which he pleaded guilty to a summary harassment count and paid a $300 fine.
In court Friday, Corbett testified with an emotional support dog on his lap. He said he still suffers from post-traumatic stress related to a deployment in Bosnia in 2001 and a tour of duty in Iraq in 2003.
“I have extreme anxiety and I don’t like large crowds. I have trouble focusing, and there were times I couldn’t get out of bed for two or three days. I still have bad days, but I am able to recognize when they are coming and reach out for help,” Corbett said.
Assistant District Attorney Mike Pacek, also a veteran, thanked Corbett for his service but said that as a police officer he knew he was breaking the law when he intentionally misrepresented his criminal record. Most police officers uphold the law and are trusted in their jobs. Just a small number are bad apples, Pacek told the judge.
“They (bad cops) need to be made an example of to show the public they can follow the rules. A jail sentence here could be a deterrent to show judges are holding bad cops accountable,” Pacek said.
Defense attorney Fran Murrman argued that Corbett was found guilty of a nonviolent crime and that he has remained out of trouble since his arrest more than two years ago.
“He devoted most of his life, the best years of his life, to protect society,” Murrman said.
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