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Guilty Verdict For Central Pa. Chief Over Playground Fund

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(File photo.  Credit: Thinkstock)

(File photo. Credit: Thinkstock)

LEWISBURG, Pa. (AP) — A jury has found a central Pennsylvania police chief guilty of theft by extortion for telling motorists they could avoid traffic fines if they made donations to a borough playground fund.

But the jury in Union County on Tuesday found Hartleton Police Chief Donald Zerbe not guilty of other charges including conspiracy.

Prosecutors claimed Zerbe offered 33 drivers such a deal over the last five years.

Those who donated money to the playground fund — instead of paying fines and other costs that went to the borough, county and state — had their citations erased from their driving records.

Defense attorney Hank Clarke says the chief was simply using an innovative idea that was good for the drivers and the community.

(© Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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