Thursday, October 27, 2016

C.M. Musser Elementary School security guard charged with burglary

SHARON PA Oct 27 2016 – C.M. Musser Elementary School will be without its security guard for the rest of the week after he was arrested on Tuesday for allegedly burglarizing a service station in New Castle.
Patrick William Hicks, 39, of 135 Park Ave., New Castle, was charged with conspiracy to commit these crimes: burglary, trespass, theft, receiving stolen property and criminal mischief for the alleged break-in early Monday at the Sunoco station, 1717 Wilmington Road, New Castle.
Hicks was arraigned on $30,000 bond and taken to Lawrence County Jail along with his alleged co-conspirator, Shawn Allen Currie, 48, of 906 Sankey St., New Castle.
Hicks worked for Diversified Security Solutions, owned by John Lechner, a former Mercer County commissioner. The security business has a contract with Sharon City School District to have a guard posted at each of its three elementary schools.
“He was one of my people until the minute he got arrested,” Lechner said.
Lechner said he personally interviews every potential employee and that his company performs extensive background searches on them.
“He had a perfectly clear record and an extensive history in security for another company,” Lechner said, adding that they check federal and state records, child abuse clearances, and perform drug screens.
According to Lawrence County court records, Hicks was charged in 2013 with receiving stolen property, but the charges were eventually withdrawn.
“I talked to the (investigating) officer,” Lechner said. “I got his side of the story, and the investigation indicated that (Hicks) didn’t do it.”
Lechner also said that he spoke with and explained the situation to Sharon school district officials who were concerned about the criminal report in which Hicks was exonerated.
“We have to have faith in them,” schools Superintendent Michael Calla said of the security company. “We were assuming all paperwork was in place. That’s the advantage to having them.”
A Sharon police detective sergeant is assigned to the middle school/high school. When Calla was asked if if he was considering placing Sharon patrolmen in the elementaries, he said it has not been financially feasible and the district has had no luck with the city on landing grants that could pay for it.
Calla said that he does not blame Lechner’s company, saying they have done a great job.
“I have no idea what that man did or why. You are a role model. It mystifies me,” Lechner said. “He had a clean background. I don’t know what got him to this point all of a sudden. I’m not happy with what happened. I’m sure (the school) is not either.”
The Herald’s sister newspaper, The New Castle News, reported that the store’s alarm went off and a patrolman chased a man out of the building and eventually found him hiding in the woods with several cigarette boxes allegedly taken from the business.
The officer also saw a white vehicle – that had no light on but had an open passenger door – slowly backing up in a nearby alley. The driver was later identified as Hicks, according to police records.
With Hicks sitting in Lawrence County Jail, and being fired the moment he was arrested, Musser school is left without a security guard for the rest of the week.

“We have a sub coming in next week for a week and then a permanent replacement,” Lechner said. “He will be exceptional. He is a retired state police officer and has a lot of experience with schools and young people.

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