Friday, June 16, 2023

Three Mount Carmel Police Officers Indicted by FBI for Using Excessive Force

On Friday, the United States Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Pennsylvania announced the indictment of 1 current police officer, and 2 former police officers, for the borough of Mount Carmel were indicted on federal charges for using excessive force in over two dozen arrests.

The announcement stated that former Lt. David Donkochik, 51, of Catawissa, former Patrol Officer Jonathan McHugh, age 35, of Middleport, and current Patrol Officer Kyle Schauer, 34, of Catawissa were indicted on Thursday by a federal grand jury for charges of using excessive force when arresting people over a three-year period.

According to United States Attorney Gerard M. Karam, the indictment alleges that former Lt. Donkockik, former Patrol Officer McHugh, and Patrol Officer Schauer were involved in a conspiracy to violate the civil rights of those they arrested from 2018 to 2021. The indictment alleges that in 22 different arrests, they kicked, punched, choked, and otherwise used excessive force against those they were arresting. In those arrests, they caused bodily injuries to their victims.

Donkochik, McHugh and Schauer took steps to ensure that video of the arrests were not captured by police cameras, or if footage that incriminated them was captured, took steps to ensure that footage was not preserved. They falsely reported that arrestees acted in a manner requiring violence and then charged arrestees with aggravated assault, resisting arrest, and related offenses to conceal their own use of violence. Donkochick, McHugh and Schauer would then threaten arrestees with more violence.

“The defendants violated the civil rights of numerous individuals in their community over an extended period and in the course of doing so, betrayed the significant public trust placed in them,” said U.S. Attorney Karam. “This week’s indictment reflects our office’s commitment to ensuring that those who abuse their official positions are held accountable.”

“We in law enforcement are granted significant authority in order to effectively do our jobs,” said Jacqueline Maguire, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI’s Philadelphia Division. 

“When someone wearing a badge abuses those powers and deprives another human being of their civil rights, the FBI and our partners will ensure that justice is brought to those who egregiously violate the public's trust.”

“The indictment announced today is a culmination of outstanding joint investigative efforts and actions by members of the Federal Bureau of Investigation and Pennsylvania State Police, Bureau of Criminal Investigation, Public Corruption Task Force,” said Captain James Cuttitta, Special Investigations Division of the Pennsylvania State Police, Bureau of Criminal Investigation. “I commend Trooper Emily Dressler and those State Police members who assisted her for their hard work during this lengthy investigation. Anytime law enforcement investigates their own, it is challenging and difficult. The charges outlined in the indictment are disturbing, and the residents of Northumberland County should be pleased these Officers will be held accountable. Mount Carmel is a town with proud traditions, and residents should be able to trust that their Police Officers will uphold the oaths they swore to at all times. The Pennsylvania State Police members assigned to the public corruption task forces will remain committed to fully investigating these types of investigations statewide. We want to thank the witnesses, residents, multiple law enforcement departments and officers, and numerous county service agencies who cooperated during this difficult investigation. The indictment announced today would not be possible without your assistance. We also thank the FBI and the United States Attorney’s Office for their continued outstanding partnership with the Pennsylvania State Police.”

The case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the Pennsylvania State Police. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Carlo Marchioli and Michael Consiglio are prosecuting the case.

The maximum penalty under federal law for this offense is 10 years of imprisonment, a term of supervised release following imprisonment, and a fine. A sentence following a finding of guilt is imposed by the Judge after consideration of the applicable federal sentencing statutes and the Federal Sentencing Guidelines.