Hartleton Chief Appears In Court

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MIFFLINBURG -- The police chief in Union County accused of making up his own rules when it came to speeding tickets is in court to face theft by extortion charges.

The chief says the donations are like a plea bargain and insists nobody benefited personally from the money.

Suspended Hartleton Police Chief Donald Zerbe was in district court in Mifflinburg to face a long list of charges, including theft by extortion.

State police say Zerbe gave drivers a way out of speeding tickets by donating money to the Hartleton playground fund.

Many people in Hartleton including Mayor Jim Dorman do not think Zerbe did anything wrong.

"The chief has done so much for this community.  Not only our own community, communities abroad."

Mayor Dorman was in court to show his support for Zerbe.

"He donated money back to our community.  That's basically what he's done."

According to state police, for the past several years, Chief Zerbe's police force has been giving speeders the option of paying the citation, or to make a $150 donation to the Hartleton playground fund.

"Chief Zerbe has served his community with honor and integrity for 38 years.  Nothing has changed," said Hank Clarke, Zerbe's attorney.

Chief Zerbe was suspended last week from the Hartleton police department without pay.  His next scheduled court date is in August.