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Wednesday, May 8, 2024

Swindling the Amish

     Just when we think that elected officials have come up with every possible method of swindling the people who put them into office, some corrupt politician comes along and proves us wrong. Cases of petty public corruption involving local officials--embezzlement, payroll padding, feather-bedding, unauthorized use of government credit cards, per diem fraud and bribery--are such common occurrences they have become events that get little attention in the media. Most citizens, while disgusted by politicians in general, are no longer shocked by this kind of behavior. Maybe that's why so few of these bums are ever voted out of office. But every once in awhile one of these government crooks get caught doing something so outrageous it catches, for the blink of an eye, public attention.

     A constable in western Pennsylvania named Glenn Young Jr. pulled a stunt that qualified as a new low in public service. The story was picked up in a handful of area newspapers and was mentioned on a couple of local TV stations. Although the story cried out for in-depth reporting and perhaps some editorializing, it appeared for a day then was gone.
     In Pennsylvania, in addition to law enforcement officers who work for police departments, sheriff's offices and the state police, there is the little known county-wide office of constable. These uniformed peace officers, elected to six-year terms, usually work directly for judges and district magistrates on minor civil matters. While they carry guns, have badges and possess full arrest powers, most constables serve court papers and collect court-ordered fines. In a few jurisdictions they provide courtroom security and transport local prisoners. In Pennsylvania constables are on the bottom of the law enforcement hierarchy.

     In October 2011 John Young Jr., a 63-year-old constable from Beaver County was in Springfield Township in Mercer County investigating vandalism to an Amish school house. Why Constable Young was working in Mercer County some 60 miles north of his home in New Brighton was a mystery. Mercer County doesn't even border Beaver County and lies outside the constable's normal geographical jurisdiction. Also mystifying was why Young had taken it upon himself to investigate minor vandalism at the Indian Run school house. (This is where professional news reporting would have been helpful.)

     The eager constable (Barney Fife on steroids), after pulling over several Amish buggies to search for whoever knows what, met with a group of local Amish leaders. According to Constable Young, he had identified the 21 Amish lads who had vandalized the school house. Although it had only cost the Amish $92 to replace the broken windows and fix the broken desks, the constable informed the Amish elders that the youngsters had inflicted $4,000 damage to the school. This meant, according to Young, that the kids had committed a serious crime that could lead to big fines and possible jail time. This was a lie.

     Because he was a nice guy and had the best interests of the Amish people in mind, Constable Young would save the vandals a lot of money by simply collecting smaller fines from the family of each perpetrator. And this was what he did, collecting a total of $2,450 in fines that had not been levied by a court or any other governmental body. Someone in the Amish community suspected a swindle and notified the state police.

     Charged with theft by deception, official oppression and impersonating a public servant (not to mention a decent person), Constable Glenn Young was taken into custody by state troopers on August 29, 2012. At his arraignment he pleaded not guilty to all charges. Young later pleaded guilty in return for a sentence of probation.

     Compared to the average public corruption case Constable Young's breach of public trust didn't amount to much. However, that Constable Young possessed a badge and a gun and was invested with full arrest powers was more than a little disturbing.


  1. Jim,

    I have basically given-up on The MSM for invesitgative reporting. If you go to blogs like yours, you will find more investigative, factual and well-written reporting than any articles from the local rags.
    Your question on what this constable was doing so far out of his jurisdiction is the most concerning to me. If a police officer were to leave their jurisdiction and travel across two counties to investigate a crime would not somebody be concerned?

  2. Here is a website about Glenn Young.


  3. Constables have no boundaries of jurisdiction within the State of PA. They are STATE Constable Police. They are NOT at the bottom of the law enforcement hierarchy, they are in fact an entirely different hierarchy. They are elected, and elected officials are supposed to be held to a higher standard than appointed or hired employees. There are problems, and these issues must be addressed and prevented. That state should require the same training and provide as much support as any other police officer. Never think a police force that answers to appointed bureaucrats is better than an elected by the people police force that answers to the people. Fix the office! It's a good one that PA should absolutely keep.

  4. I live in Abington Township, which is near Philadelphia. We have two township-wide elected Constables, whose terms are for six years. The most recent election was in 2015. I see them twice a year. I work at my polling place on Election Days, and they drop by to check on things. So that means that I saw them yesterday. (They come separately, at different times.) One of them was first elected in 2015, so I'm still getting familiar with him. The other was first elected in 2009. As Abington's political landscape has changed, so have the parties of the Constables: before 2003, both Republicans; 2003-2009, one of each (and in this position possibly thought of as a male-dominated one, both were women); since 2009, both Democrats.

    I am not originally from Pennsylvania, so what I first think of when I hear the word "Constable" is the line in the Beach Boys' 1966 hit "Sloop John B": "The Constable had to come and take them away." I believe this song is set in Nasau, Bahamas.

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