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Former city cop tries to have charges dismissed in misconduct case

A former Williamsport city cop asked a judge to dismiss charges against him alleging misconduct.

Eric Derr, 37, of Cogan Station, attempted to have all his charges dismissed related to alleged abuse of his position as a city police officer involving a retail store theft and drug-related vehicle stops.

Derr faces unsworn falsification, tampering with public records, obstructing the administration of law, hindering apprehension, official oppression, coercion and 28 charges of unlawful use of a computer.

These charges emerge from allegations Derr abused his authority as a police officer to solicit sex from a woman in exchange for not charging her for drug-related crimes. Additionally, Derr is accused of using the police J-NET system to look up women unrelated to criminal justice matters.

Robert Hoffa, Derr’s attorney, and Rebecca Elo, who represented the state attorney general’s office, debated whether or not Derr deceived his superior officers when he allegedly closed a file without its being reviewed.

Next, the two presented differing arguments on whether or not the absence of several items reported to be stolen on a report Derr wrote constituted tampering.

Derr allegedly obtained sex from the woman who allegedly robbed the store, in exchange for not being charged; and Derr is accused not only of omitting stolen items from the report, but also reporting there was no theft when there allegedly was.

Finally, Hoffa and Elo further debated the “unlawful use of a computer” charges over the exact definition of authorized access. Hoffa said Derr was authorized to use J-NET, a computerized police network used to look up criminal records and drivers’ licenses by police, so he could not be charged for those counts.

Meanwhile, Elo said Derr exceeded his authorized use by allegedly misusing J-NET and violating agreements he signed as a condition for using J-NET.

Finally, Hoffa argued that the statute of limitations, which is increased by two years for public officers or employees who violate that law, was improperly extended for Derr’s charges so he could be prosecuted.

Hoffa argued that Derr was not technically a public officer or employee, but Elo said Derr received a paycheck from city police from the city of Williamsport, and furthermore had the authority to remove certain freedoms as a police officer.

Senior Judge David Klementik, who presided over the motion, said he would have a verdict reached on the motions in the coming weeks.

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