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Embattled Schuykill Co. police chief terminated

Updated: Thursday, September 19 2013, 10:52 PM CDT
Reported by: Kirk Clyatt

GILBERTON -- An embattled Schuylkill County police chief has been terminated after a disciplinary hearing held earlier today. But he vows the battle is not over and has plans to appeal the decision.

Technically, Chief Mark Kessler remains suspended, pending an appeal and Kessler's attorney told CBS 21 that he is going to file that appeal for a public hearing, which he thought would happen tonight, within the next couple of weeks.

On his website, Mark Kessler called Thursday's closed-door disciplinary hearing, "a kangaroo court."

About the only thing that everyone agrees about when it comes to Gilberton Borough's suspended police chief Mark Kessler is that he is a lightning rod for controversy.

Thursday night, CBS 21 sent the only local reporter to the meeting in Gilberton.

Kessler told CBS 21, "I didn't threaten anybody. You know it's freedom of speech, freedom of expression. I haven't hurt anybody, you didn't see Chief Kessler dragging them out of a car, stopping them around or anything like that. I'm a law abiding citizen."

Kessler came under fire for his YouTube videos, which featured extreme language and tirades directed at Secretary of State John Kerry and others. The videos went viral and drew national attention.

One of Kessler's supporters told CBS 21, "Maybe parents shouldn't let their kids watch the Internet."

Kessler was the chief of a one-man police department, and he wants his job back, saying, "I give more than enough fair shakes in this borough to a lot of people and on the job for the past 14, 16 years."

Thursday night, the council voted 6-1 to terminate Kessler. His attorney, Joseph Nahas told CBS 21 that Kessler was not being terminated for the videos, but for other issues that he claimed have been trumped up -- such as not filing required reports.

"It's kind of a smoke and mirrors thing, where they are couching it under something different (but) still of course trying to punish him, I believe, for the video that he had shot," Nahas said.

Tonight, guns were everywhere, with about a dozen heavily armed supporters turning out in support of Kessler.

Gene Stilp, a former congressional candidate and community activist has been working hard to have Kessler removed, was there as well.

"When I saw his actions and basically how he's inciting violence and using intimidation, I flied complaints with the ATF, the FBI, the office of the attorney general, and the Schuylkill County District Attorney," Stilp said.

Kessler's feelings were clear: "I do feel sorry for the people that live in this borough. I think it's time the people of this borough step up to plate and clean house and get rid of all these people that run this town, because it's a debacle."

Stilp disagreed: "This guy guy does not represent the way Pennsylvanians act. It does not the way chiefs of police should act, or responsible gun owners."

Kessler's website is encouraging voters to write-in his name for sheriff in the November election. Currently, there are two names on the ballot -- Patrick M. Reynolds on the Republican ticket and Joseph G. Groody on the Democratic ticket.

Kessler's website is now up to 55 videos, with his latest loaded only a week ago. In it, he talks about his Chinese SKS rifle, a weapon he says there's plenty of ammunition available for.

Kessler's website can be found HERE.Embattled Schuykill Co. police chief terminated


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