Former Police Chief Sentenced to Probation

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HARTLETON -- Former Hartleton Police Chief Donald Zerbe was at the Union County Courthouse to appeal his conviction on a theft by extortion charge. Instead, the judge sentenced him to one year probation.

"It was appropriate and I have to accept what the court offered," Zerbe said.

Zerbe was found guilty in December of theft by extortion. The former Hartleton police chief let drivers out of speeding tickets if they donated to the Hartleton Playground Fund instead. Zerbe maintains he did nothing wrong.

"There was no extortion. That's the definition the DA's office gave. It was strictly an option," Zerbe said.

"Hartleton borough and the playground fund and the people who use that playground are losers in this. They lose a revenue stream for their playground," Defense Attorney Hank Clarke said.

Zerbe's attorney Hank Clarke believes drivers are also losing out.

"They're still going to get pulled over for breaking the law. They're still going to have to pay money. The problem is, is it's going to go to the state and not to a playground," Clarke said.

Judge Michael Hudock disagrees. He said, "You wanted the money to stay local but that doesn't excuse the fact that it is illegal."

Prosecutor Jeff Crossland said, "Ignorance is no excuse. It clearly is a crime."

Donald Zerbe was police chief of Hartleton for more than 30 years. He was suspended last year and retired after his trial in December. He apologized to the people of Hartleton and says he takes full responsibility for his actions.

"It was our only option to help people. We had no other way to help. They asked for help and I gave it," Zerbe said.

The judge in Union County said he does not believe jail is the appropriate place for Donald Zerbe. Again, the former police chief was sentenced to one year of probation and he must pay just over $5,000 in restitution.


  • Charly Lucky

    HARTLETON — Former Hartleton Police Chief Donald Zerbe was at the Union County Courthouse to appeal his conviction on a theft by extortion charge. Instead, the judge sentenced him to one year probation
    Like to know what the average Joe would get for,”THEFT BY DECEPTION”????????
    I would bet alot more than one year probation. He should shut his mouth and take it.

  • name

    He may have broken the law but he was helping his community he wasn’t steeling the money for himself.This guy deserves a pass.

  • jellystoneranger

    These clowns think they can do anything and for the most part do because they have a badge and more times than not , judges to back them up.Morons and political hacks that make this area nothing but a joke. Morons voting for morons and you get …… got it …. morons!
    Look at him! He couldn’t get a job working in the private sector that would pay his bar bill! Welcome to Pa!

    • Jimbob

      Your obliviously an idiot, you blame the Chief for trying to keep the money local, the only moron is you, do the world a favor and de not reproduce, I’m sure with your lack of intelligence, your bundled up on couch in your warm cozy Obama supported trailer. You are the problem….

      • jellystoneranger

        What a clown you are! He wanted to keep the money local ! Do you know what the word extortion even is corncob in your Jimbob? He was fining people at whim to fund a playground which means if it needed more money he racked up more citations! What are u third generation inbred?

      • GJones

        YOU apparently don’t know what the word “extortion” means. Look it up. He gave people an option. Take the ticket and pay the fine like you normally would, or throw a few bucks towards a playground as a good deed. Id take the playground any day over points and a fine that just lines the pockets of the state officials. If you view that as being immoral or corrupt, I would urge you to take a long walk off a short pier because you serve no purpose in this world. People like you are the first to whine when you get a speeding ticket, yet you complain when a cop gives someone a break for a good cause. Cop bashers like you will complain no matter what.

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