With conviction upheld, city to fire suspended cop

A former city police officer suspended without pay since 2007 won’t get his job back now that the state Superior Court affirmed his conviction Thursday on charges of tampering with public records and obstruction of justice.

Thomas H. Ungard Jr. may not return to the department because of the rules required under the Confidence in Law Enforcement Act, which prevent him from being a police officer now that the court affirmed his conviction. City Police Chief Gregory A. Foresman deferred comment on specifics of the ruling to assistant solicitor J. David Smith, but confirmed that Ungard will be terminated under the state law regulating law enforcement officers.

Ungard, who was charged along with former police Cpl. Dustin Kreitz by the state attorney general’s office in June 2007, was lieutenant and in charge of the Lycoming County Drug Task Force. He and a former city police chief used a pickup truck in June 2006, a vehicle forfeited by a drug dealer, for a fishing trip in Canada.

Kreitz was not part of the fishing trip but state attorney general’s prosecutors determined Ungard made “straw purchases,” claiming vehicles forfeited were for third parties, but were actually for himself and family.

In July 2011, county jurors found Ungard guilty of two counts of tampering with or fabricating public records and one count of obstruction of the administration of law. The jury acquitted Ungard of three counts of tampering with public records and four counts of theft.

In Ungard’s appeal, he claimed the prosecution committed misconduct and evidence was not sufficient, according to a copy of the court decision obtained by the Sun-Gazette.

Ungard’s sentence of 18 months’ probation and a $750 fine, imposed on Oct. 12, 2011, had been stayed pending the outcome of the appeal.

Attempts to reach Ungard at his home Friday were not successful. Smith was unavailable and out of the office Friday.

Kreitz, who pleaded guilty to one count that he failed to report receipt of a television set from the task force, had requested reinstatement to the police department but reached an settlement agreement with the city that prevents his return.