Kessler sentenced to 2 years probation
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.