PA – When the president of the city council learned about theft
committed by the local police and began calling for an audit of
the department over “seemingly
corrupt and unethical actions,” police responded by raiding
his home and stealing from his property.
Stoffa told The Free Thought Project that he raised his concerns
theft within the department at a city council meeting
in January, and he openly called for an audit. Days after the
meeting, in what is now alleged be a clear act of
retaliation, Stoffa’s home was raided by police.
said he believes the invasion of his home and confiscation of his
property is a blatant attempt to prevent the police department
from being audited. The council president’s home was searched by
three officers—two from Masontown and one from Cumberland
Township. They confiscated his son’s Ipad, his iPhone, CD’s and
DVD’s, a couple of Sony memory sticks, his home computer, and
three USB hard drives.
could have planted something for all I know,”Stoffa
told TFTP. “But we got it
back. My attorney has it now.”
also noted that even though the council has voted in favor of an
audit, it has yet to begin. “They
never began the audit. We actually voted to do the audit after
they raided my home,”he said.
asked Stoffa why he believes he was targeted by the police and he
was the most vocal about them. Nobody else questioned their
practices, they kinda just did what they wanted.”
asked why he was so concerned about auditing the police
department, Stoffa told us it is because he has “heard
too many stories of people’s Constitutional rights being abused
by this bunch [of cops].” Now he can relate.
is a disagreement between Mayor Toni Petrus and the Masontown
council over who actually has authority over the police
we hire, and fire, and promote within the police department I
believe we [the council] have the authority to audit the police
date, no charges have been filed against Stoffa for any
incriminating evidence found in his possessions. He and his
lawyers filed a motion to quash the search warrant and return his
property for the—as he sees it—politically motivated violation of
his Fourth Amendment rights.
is now suing the Borough, the Masontown Police Department, Police
Chief Joe Ryan, the mayor, the ex-council president, and the
police officers involved in the perceived illegal raid of his
home. Per the civil rights lawsuit, he’s asking for damages to be
determined by a jury as demanded by Stoffa’s attorney, Charity
asked if he felt intimidated by the raid, Stoffa said he was “pretty sick, pretty upset,”and
sleeping for a while.”
Attorney General’s Office is handling the investigation now.
The DA’s office stepped aside and turned it over to the
Attorney General,”Stoffa told
said police had no probable cause to investigate him as he had
committed no crime, was not in the process of committing a crime
and was not planning on committing a crime. He acknowledged that
it could have been worse, and said he is thankful that his wife
and son were not home at the time of the raid.
Masontown council has placed the audit on pause. Stoffa said he
believes the police raid of his property acted as a warning, and
as a result, “They
have everyone afraid of retaliation, afraid their house will
also said there is a lot of shady business dealings going on in
Masontown. For instance, he claimed the police chief’s wife has a
cleaning contract— for at least $550 per month—to clean the
Borough office building and police station in what looks like a
case of nepotism. The Police Association Fund is also being
questioned by Stoffa. He said the Borough has no idea how much
money is in the fund, how it is raised, or how it is spent.
said he also wants a copy of the “Policies and Procedures” manual
the police department has.“For
some reason, it’s a secret here,”he
said, adding that while he has seen it, neither he, the council,
nor the public have access to it.
asked for a copy of it as well but was told Stoffa would have to
sign a non-disclosure agreement.“Until we
get these issues resolved, I’m going to keep pushing,”Stoffa
The Free Thought Project hasreported, John
Stoffa is not the first citizen to attempt to work with the local
city council to bring about change in his community. A homeowner
in Green Bay, Wisconsin, decided to run for city council on the
platform of police accountability after he claimed he was harassed
and later assaulted by officers, and his home was raided with no
probable cause. He hung a banner on his property that said, “We pray for NO MORE RAIDS ON
INNOCENT FAMILIES AND HOMES AGAIN!”