Kessler sen­tenced to 2 years pro­ba­tion

The Republican Herald - - LOCAL - BY Peter e. Bortner STAFF WRITER con­tact the writer: pbort­ner@re­pub­li­can­her­ald.com; 570-628-6014

POTTSVILLE — Mark Kessler, the for­mer Gil­ber­ton po­lice chief who gained na­tional promi­nence due to YouTube videos show­ing him fir­ing guns, will not have to serve time be­hind bars af­ter a Schuylkill County judge sen­tenced him Thurs­day on two charges re­sult­ing from mis­state­ments dur­ing his pur­chase of firearms.

Kessler, 46, of Frackville, must spend two years on pro­ba­tion, pay costs and $50 to the Crim­i­nal Jus­tice En­hance­ment Ac­count, and sub­mit a DNA sam­ple to law en­force­ment au­thor­i­ties, Judge Charles M. Miller ruled.

In a one-day trial over which Miller presided, a jury of eight men and four women, af­ter de­lib­er­at­ing a lit­tle more than an hour, con­victed him on April 4 of mak­ing a false state­ment on a firearms ap­pli­ca­tion and unsworn fal­si­fi­ca­tion to au­thor­i­ties.

State po­lice at Frackville al­leged Kessler falsely stated he was not charged with a crime car­ry­ing a pos­si­ble prison sen­tence of more than one year in an ap­pli­ca­tion he filed to buy a gun on May 5, 2016, at Dunham’s Sports in Schuylkill Mall, nei­ther of which ex­ists any­more. At the time, Kessler was fac­ing a charge of ter­ror­is­tic threats, which has a max­i­mum sen­tence of five years be­hind bars, pros­e­cu­tors al­leged.

Kessler, who also once served on the North Schuylkill school board, tes­ti­fied at his trial that he had made a mis­take in fill­ing out the form but that it was un­in­ten­tional. How­ever, on cross-ex­am­i­na­tion, he ac­knowl­edged that he knew he had been charged with ter­ror­is­tic threats.

In mid-July 2013, Kessler made na­tional news and be­came en­meshed in con­tro­versy when he posted two home­made videos to YouTube of him fir­ing au­to­matic weapons and us­ing pro­fan­ity. Gil­ber­ton sus­pended Kessler, say­ing the weapons were bor­ough prop­erty and the chief did not have the right to use them in the videos.

Also, two sep­a­rate ju­ries in Au­gust 2016 found Kessler not guilty of charges aris­ing from sep­a­rate in­ci­dents in Frackville.

Robert J. Kir­wan II, Read­ing, Kessler’s lawyer, has said he will ap­peal his client’s con­vic­tion.

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