Retired Coatesville police officer charged with theft, forgery

Gerald Pawling
August 22, 2013 2:43:01 PM PDT
A retired Coatesville police officer has been arrested for allegedly stealing money from fellow officers.

Gerald Pawling entered the District Justice's office in Caln Township for his first appearance Thursday morning.

Authorities say he stole over $46,000 from the Coatesville Police Benevolent Fund while serving as the treasurer. They say he wrote checks to himself or his wife and, in other cases, he forged other officers' names.

Investigators say Pawling was living above his means, with luxuries such as a leased horse, a pool, a hot tub, a big screen TV and a theater room complete with a movie-style popcorn machine.

"This kind of makes it personal for a lot of the officers. He was essentially taking money right out of the paychecks, right out of the pockets, of his fellow police officers," said Chief Jack Laufer of the Coatesville Police Department.

"This isn't a case where he stole money because he was addicted to drugs, this isn't a case where he stole money because he gambled it away. He was simply living above his means," said Chester County District Attorney Tom Hogan.

Pawling's attorney, Daniel Bush, said his client was a good cop who served 17 years on the force.

"This man has lead a lifetime of service, he did a lot of good work for the people of Coatesville and nothing in this case minimizes that," Bush said.

But Hogan said a crime is a crime and Pawling is no exception.

"The message here is simple. Chester County law enforcement and the District Attorney's Office don't care what you do for a living, we don't care who you are. If you commit a crime, you will prosecuted," Chester County District Attorney Tom Hogan said.

Pawling is facing charges for theft and forgery. His bail was set at $200,000 unsecured.

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