Former Colebrookdale police chief appeals his dismissal

DA says he destroyed evidence in marijuana case

Video report by WFMZ's Tom Rader

COLEBROOKDALE TWP., Pa. - It's an appeals process that has been going on since July.

"Well, tonight's the night the chief is going to testify and tell his side of the story," Colebrookdale Solicitor Jeffrey Karver said.

Former Colebrookdale Township police Chief David Viola testified at an appeal hearing Thursday night, as he continues to fight his termination from the force in May.

"His defense has been, despite destroying some of the plants, they still could have prosecuted the case," said Viola's attorney, Sam Stretton, outside the conference room of the Colebrookdale Township building.

The termination stemmed from what the township and Berks County District Attorney John Adams claimed was improper police procedure in August 2016. They claimed he destroyed marijuana plants in the township evidence room when the smell became too strong, and he needed to clean out the space.

"The commissioners's position was taken after a lengthy investigation. A lot of thought, a lot of discussion," said Karver.

The township charges for termination include "decisions unbecoming of an officer." According to Viola's attorney, Viola admitted he made a mistake, but he does not believe he should have been terminated. He claimed he did properly dispose of the plants.

"He has an excellent record as a police officer and as a police chief, and he shouldn't have been terminated," Stretton said.

Adams claimed the criminal case that the marijuana came from could not be properly prosecuted because of how the evidence was handled.

"[There was] involvement of attorneys on both sides of the case before they decided to terminate the chief, so I doubt that the commissioners will reverse their decision," Karver explained.

During the hearing, Viola ultimately said it was a "bad judgement call on his part," and he believes he should have contacted the district attorney or the assistant district attorney before he cleaned out the evidence room.

The appeals process is ongoing. The next hearing is scheduled for January 30.

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