Schoen resigns from London Grove board
01/10/2017 01:08PM ● Published by Richard Gaw
The short, sporadic and controversial tenure of Raymond W. Schoen as a London Grove Township Supervisor has come to an end.
A one-sentence letter of resignation sent by Schoen to the township on Dec. 29 essentially severs all of his ties to the township as an elected official, one that saw him elected to the board on Jan. 1, 2016 – after running unopposed – for a six-year term that would have extended until Dec. 31, 2021.
“Please accept this letter as my notice of resignation, effective immediately, from the Township Board of Supervisors,” Schoen wrote.
During his time on the board, Schoen's appearances at public meetings were largely infrequent and nearly devoid of active contribution on his part. His absences often left a traditional five-member board – which also include Richard Scott-Harper, David Connors, Michael Pickel and Robert Weer – to vote on township issues with no possibility for a tie-breaker in the event of a split vote.
Schoen's inconsistency on the board was upstaged early last year, when on Feb. 10, he was formally taken under arrest by the Birmingham Township Police on a triple count of criminal trespassing, theft and receiving stolen property, for his involvement in the alleged stealing of firearms from a Birmingham Township home in December 2015.
The charges filed against Schoen stemmed from an incident that was reported to Birmingham Township police by township resident John Fraser. As detailed in the official police description, Fraser noticed that a gun case beneath his bed -- one that held a Beretta Weatherby Mark V Deluxe SC682 and a shotgun -- was missing. Following a search of the house, Fraser opened his gun safe -- located in the closet of the master bedroom -- and found that a single bolt action from the rifle was also missing.
Fraser told police that prior to departing for vacation with his wife Mae that he had hired Schoen -- who identified himself as a tax accountant and a pet sitter through his website www.thepackleader.net -- to watch the family cat while the Frasers were away. Fraser told police that Schoen was given a key to the residence and its alarm code.
On Feb. 3, Fraser contacted the township police to inform them that he had spoken with a representative from Miller's Gun Shop in New Castle, Del., where he had originally purchased the firearms in 1998. The police report stated that Lawrence Hudson, the general manager of the shop, informed police that a white, middle-aged male had visited the store in late December, carrying a Beretta Weatherby Mark V Deluxe SC682 and a shotgun, in a beretta gun case.
Hudson later identified Schoen from a lineup of eight photographs, circling and identifying Schoen as the man who possessed the firearms. Hudson told the police that Schoen had entered the store with the guns with the intent to sell them to the store owner, at a value more than what they were valued at. There was no transaction, and Schoen then left the store carrying the guns.
Accompanied by a search warrant, members of the township police entered Schoen's home in London Grove Township on Fe. 10 and, after a thorough search of the home, found both the Mark V Deluxe and the shotgun, and later identified both guns as stolen.
Schoen was then placed into custody and transported to State Police Avondale, and later released on his own recognizance. He was formally arraigned on March 17.
Soon after Schoen's arrest, his future on the board became a hot topic among residents in attendance at board meetings. At the March 2 meeting, they asked William Lincke, an attorney with the Media firm of Beatty Lincke and the township's solicitor, about the possibility of the supervisors voting to remove Schoen from the board. Lincke responded by saying that because Schoen's arrest is a criminal process being conducted by the District Attorney's office, “It is something with which this board has no involvement,” he said. “This board has no ability to take action as a result of what may or may not happen, and that process is just getting staged.
“The theory is accepted as law is that those who are elected by the people serve for as long as they are eligible to serve, and that can only be contested in this kind of a process at the end of such a proceeding mad requested only by the District Attorney's office, not by this board. There is no vote that this board can take in order to make any change to affect the seat of a sitting supervisor. It is not in their hands. This is a function of the State constitution.”
One resident asked Lincke if the general public has the legal right to ask the board for Schoen's resignation.
“Legally, there is no impediment to your asking,” Lincke replied. “It's not something that you normally see, and I don't see that it's good policy, because people are not making judgment relative to this case. People who are charged – until they're convicted, you don't know whether or not they're guilty of what they're charged for. In the mean time, the taxpayers have determined that this individual is to perform public duties, and until that person is convicted, it's certainly not a practice to have boards vote to ask for resignations. It happens, rarely.”
For nearly that last nine months, Schoen's case has become a legal series of starts and stops, dotted with pre-trial hearings and criminal trial extensions in Judge Patrick Carmody's courtroom at the Chester County Courthouse. Records in the Court of Common Pleas of Chester County state that on nine occasions between July 11 and Dec. 15, “granting motion to continue the trial” was awarded in Schoen's case. On Dec. 19, Carmody denied the request for a pre-trial motion, and an official trial has been scheduled for Jan. 23 at 9 a.m. at the courthouse.
With Schoen now off the board, the search is on for a replacement who, if appointed, will serve the portion of the unexpired term extending to Jan. 2, 2018.
Supervisors asked to comment on Schoen's resignation declined to go on the record for this story.
To contact Staff Writer Richard L. Gaw, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.