Thursday, May 06, 2021

NorCo DA Gets Second Conviction Against Law Enforcement Since Taking Office

Northampton County District Attorney Terry Houck is a career prosecutor who worked in both Bucks and Lehigh County before coming here. Many people are unaware that Terry was a cop himself, patrolling the streets of Philadelphia while going to night school at Temple Law. You might think he'd be inclined to look the other way when a police officer or someone in law enforcement commits a criminal offense. You'd be wrong. His office has taken a Washington Township police officer and West Easton constable to trial over criminal matters and has obtained convictions. His office is currently prosecuting a Lower Saucon Tp police officer as well. 

Houck explained that his job is to "follow the evidence and nothing else." He's disagrees strongly with the "rush to judgment" that a mob pursued last summer against an Allentown police officer who did nothing wrong. But he made clear that no one is above the law. "Everybody who comes in here is going to be treated the same," he pledged.  

Late Tuesday, a jury returned a verdict of guilty to terroristic threats charges brought against Mark Gwozdz, a Washington Township police officer who also has been Chief in both Roseto and East Bangor. He allegedly threatened wife #3 "to kill you before I give you anything." He also said that he wished he had put a bullet in the head of one of his previous wives. He's been on paid administrative leave since the charges were filed in October 2019. He even went to Hawaii, although his girlfriend complains they really had to rough it. 

Assistant DA Judy Gabrielle Chaverri prosecuted Gwozdz, who was represented by Matt Goodrich. The case was tried before Judge Stephen Baratta, who will sentence Gwozdz on June 16. He faces a maximum sentence of five years. 

In March, West Easton Constable Tricia Mezzacappa was convicted of making false reports to the Pennsylvania State Police in an effort to frame a black male neighbor with pointing a gun at her head. Judge Baratta sentenced her to six months of probation with numerous conditions, including a ban on contacting the victim. She almost immediately violated the no-contact ban and informed officials she had no intention of complying with probation. She was picked up in Berks County and is currently waiting for a bail revocation hearing with Judge Baratta. It's scheduled for 10 am today.  

14 comments:

Anonymous said...

It is great that Hauck believes that the law applies to everyone, but your headline is a bit misleading. Neither of these cases has to do with an officer of the law doing something illegal in the line of duty. While it’s nice to see what the DA has done, we still don’t know what he will do in a case where law enforcement goes rogue while on duty. Glad that we haven’t had the chance to see how he would respond in that situation, but the two cases you site don’t lead to your implied conclusion that the DA would pursue charges against a cop who breaks the law while on duty.

Anonymous said...

Mezzacappa has generated $1390 in court costs and fees for herself so far. Hope she didn't spend her stimulus check already.

Anonymous said...

Bernie, unless LSTPD officer has other issues I'm not aware of, you are finding him guilty already. And even if its one isolated incident, does his charge amount to the other two's you wrote about?
I'll wait to hear the facts.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Have not prejudged the LST Officer. Just noted he is being held accountable like everyone else.

Anonymous said...

Regarding comments made earlier here, I see that Bernie's intent was only to say that Houck is willing to not look the other way when a LE Officer commits a criminal offense. I think the word "Officer" could be added in the title to make it clear for those unable to infer from the content of the post what he meant. As for the LSTPD officer, Bernie only said Houck is pursuing charges, which the last time I checked is not finding him guilty. If you review the facts of the case available, the officer has been positively identified as having been involved in an incident. The question is whether he committed a crime - that will be answered in time. I note that all three of these matters involved off duty incidents, but that isn't relevant to the point. I know of a case in my town where the Chief rear-ended a vehicle while he was off duty. Cops came, and a violation was issued to the driver of the other vehicle. There was the cop driving drunk off duty who destroyed someone's front yard in Plainfied Twp a few years ago. He walked away scott free. The issue is looking the other way when an officer is involved, b/c they are an officer.

It appears people are hypersensitive when "law enforcement" is mentioned.

Anonymous said...

He let the SBRPD car-into-house cover up guy off in his first days. This is more promising.

Anonymous said...

The docket shows she was moved from NorCo to Monroe County for incarceration a week ago. Do we have a space shortage? Or maybe this is related to her suggesting possible wrongdoing on the part of prison officials in regards to her previous incarceration?

LVCI said...

It appears to be a more modern facility with rehab facilities down the road.

Anonymous said...

An actual public employee who actually meets a job requirement. No SEIU, no AFSCME, no liberal hate America at all. Guess he won't last much longer.

Anonymous said...

3 ex-wives and a girlfriend who is a police officer herself. Sounds like a Lifetime movie.

Anonymous said...

She needs a heck of a lot more than rehab...

Bernie O'Hare said...

LVCI, Monroe is newer but offers no treatment. I understand the jail administration transferred her out to avoid trouble with her. I heard this second hand.

Anonymous said...

That sounds about right. Do you know if the hearing took place on Thursday?

Anonymous said...

Not a fan of Terry. In my dealings with him he was very arrogant and at times tried cases in the media making borderline misconduct. I will say that was some time ago and it has appeared he has learned not to do this. Which is a good sign. So if he is evolving then that's good.