Retired Montco cop arrested on drug charges

Jack Pennington

June 21, 2012 3:05:35 PM PDT
A retired police officer from Montgomery County has been arrested.

Jack Pennington, 66, formerly of the Norristown Police Department, now faces felony drug charges.

His arrest was announced during a news conference on Thursday with Montgomery County D.A. Risa Vetri Ferman.

Ferman said the investigation began in March after an anonymous tip that Pennington was engaged in illegal bookmaking and drug trafficking.

On June 19th, investigators say they followed Pennington. At approximately 4:30 p.m., Ferman said Pennington was witnessed making a purchase from his supplier.

At that point, detectives took Pennington into custody.

Located at the scene was a paper bag which was later determined to contain three ounces of crystal methamphetamine worth $17,000 and nearly $7,000 in cash.

Ferman went on to say a search of Pennington revealed $9,470 cash and a "retired" Norristown Police badge with "retired" credentials in his pants pockets.

Authorities say Pennington, a former detective sergeant, was still acting as if he were a police officer, with the FOP plate and sticker adorned on his Cadillac and the retired police badge he kept with him.

"I have that here with me right now," said Ferman. "He carried this with him. He carried them on his person while he was engaged in drug trafficking."

Police say Pennington, who retired from the force 17 years ago, was using these items to protect himself from possible trouble as he ran the drug dealing operation.

A search warrant on Pennington's Cadillac sedan allegedly revealed a fully loaded Smith & Wesson .38 caliber handgun; $1,505 in cash, three cell phones; two digital scales; numerous empty and unused drug bags for packaging drugs; and an undetermined quantity of suspected crystal methamphetamine.

A search warrant was then executed on Pennington's home at 375 Ross Road, Upper Merion Township. Ferman said detectives seized were four handguns; ammunition; miscellaneous police memorabilia; drug paraphernalia including empty and unused bags for packaging drugs; evidence of illegal bookmaking and $1,500 in cash.

Guns, drugs and cash allegedly seized from Pennington was put on display during the news conference on Thursday.

According to detectives, one of Pennington's bases of operations was Steppy's, a restaurant and bar in East Norriton Township. Managers there say Pennington was a frequent customer.

In fact, managers at Steppy's say Pennington would sit at the bar typing on his computer. They had no idea he was involved in criminal activity.

"We've never seen any suspicious activity as far as him having people meeting him in the bar and stuff like that," said Kevin Crescenzo.

Police also suspect Pennington has been bookmaking, and has been involved in the prostitution industry.

They hope more tips will come in.

"He acted as if the rules did not apply to him; that the law did not apply to him. He used this badge for cover, and that effects both law enforcement and the community very negatively," Ferman said.

Pennington resigned in 1996 amid a scandal concerning his company car. He was still able to collect retirement.

Pennington served on the force for 28 years.

Pennington is behind bars on $2 million bail.