Felony Charges against Mayor of Shamokin

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SHAMOKIN -- There is new information about the arrest of the mayor of Shamokin.

Mayor Bill Milbrand faces a number of felony counts related to the construction of a cell phone tower at the Shamokin Cemetery.

Shamokin police say Mayor Bill Milbrand told a construction crew to cover burial sites with dirt so a cell phone tower could be built.

Charges against the mayor were filed Tuesday after one man decided to go to police.

Tom Ward walks around the Shamokin Cemetery every day as part of his physical therapy. One day last year he noticed something that bothered him.

"I noticed a lot of stones had been knocked over," said Ward. "It appeared to me that a marker was buried. Another stone was just flopped over near some logs."

Ward sent Newswatch 16 pictures of what he saw.

"I reported to Newswatch 16 back in August and I made the complaint in January," he said.

Newswatch 16 spoke with Ward in October and then just last month, he took the pictures to Shamokin police.

After an investigation, they arrested the president of the Shamokin Cemetery Association, who also happens to be the Mayor of Shamokin Bill Milbrand.

Milbrand was arraigned on 42 counts including a felony charge for institutional vandalism of a cemetery. Shamokin police say he vandalized and disturbed 14 graves.

Police say some of the tombstones that were desecrated include that of a World War II veteran who was killed in combat.

"It's like really bad to desecrate somebody's final resting place for a cell tower," said Ward.

Court papers indicate the mayor told the construction crew to cover the burial sites with dirt so a cell phone tower could be built.

The mayor told Newswatch 16 last year that the cell phone tower would generate $900 a month for the cemetery association and that money would go toward improving the cemetery.

The tower is not finished and the Shamokin Cemetery Association was not able to tell Newswatch 16 where the project stands.

People in the community have different opinions on the situation.

"He should be put away actually," said Jim Coleman. "That's my opinion, and he should be not a mayor here."

"I hope it gets solved fast, quick," said Paul Maher. "We all love him."

The mayor did not return any of our calls. Shamokin's city administrator told Newswatch 16 that the charges have nothing to do with Bill Milbrand's duties as mayor just his volunteer position at the cemetery.

Milbrand won the mayor's seat in 2013 by one vote and could run for reelection this year.

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