The United States Department of Justice has denied the Ambridge Borough Police Department a grant which would have funded an officer for three years, because Ambridge Council appointed a former police sergeant convicted of brutalizing a prisoner to its Civil Service Commission.

A confidential journalistic source provided the Beaver Countian with a copy of a letter sent to the Ambridge Police Department by an official with the Department of Justice in Washington, D.C. explaining their denial.

The COPS Hiring Program (CHP) grant distributed by the Department of Justice provides funding directly to law enforcement agencies to hire police officers to increase crime prevention efforts. The highly competitive grant could have provided Ambridge Borough with enough funding to pay the salary of a full-time police officer for the next three years.

But the application submitted by officers within the Ambridge Police Department was rejected by Justice Department Officials, due to a confounding decision made by Ambridge Borough Council.

Back in 2012, council members Duke McCoy, Tony Cafarelli, Janet Caldarelli, Bob Dunn, Michael Mikulich, and Joe Pucci, voted unanimously to appoint retired Ambridge Police Sergeant Richard Heitzenrater to a six year term on its Civil Service Commission. The three-person board is responsible for overseeing the hiring process for police officers in the Borough, and can decide appeals of any disciplinary action taken against officers in accordance with civil service laws.

The unanimous appointment raised eyebrows at the time, as Heitzenrater had just come off of probation following his conviction for police brutality.

In November of 2010, Richard Heitzenrater was sentenced by a federal judge to serve 6 months in a halfway-house, 6 months on house arrest, and 6 months of probation for Civil Rights violations and destruction of evidence to cover up his 2009 beating of a man in police custody. Court records show that Heitzenrater, who was Police Sergeant at the time, entered the station, turned off the lights, and beat David A. Baker, 40 of Ambridge. Baker also alleged Heitzenrater shoved the barrel of his handgun into his mouth. The man was being detained at the Ambridge Borough Police Station on accusations he had been intoxicated and urinated on a sidewalk within sight of Heitzenraterā€™s grandchildren.

Police Lieutenant Robert Kuzma was sentenced to one year of probation on charges he helped Heitzenrater destroy video evidence of the beating. Ambridge Borough settled a subsequent lawsuit filed against the town by David Baker for a reported $150,000.

Yuki Miyamoto-Mendez, a Supervisory Senior Policy Analyst for the Justice Department’s Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) Division in Washington D.C., told Ambridge Police that Richard Heitzenrater’s appointment to the borough’s Civil Service Commission had precluded them from being seriously considered for a grant.

“It was brought to our attention that two officers (a sergeant and a lieutenant) of the agency were indicted for violating the civil rights of a detainee at the police station in August 2009,” wrote Miyamoto-Mendez in the October 3rd letter. “We also understand that the Sergeant retired and since November 2012 has been serving as a member of the Ambridge Civil Service Board, where the Sergeant oversees the training and hiring of the Borough of Ambridge police officers […] During this process, the COPS Office decided against funding the Ambridge Police Department because the COPS Office had received almost 2000 other competitive applications that did not raise these kinds of concerns.”

Along with being a sitting member of the Ambridge Borough Civil Service Commission, Richard Heitzenrater is also a Republican candidate for a seat on Borough Council.


  1. Right or wrong, the law is the law and it must be obeyed to the letter. If that thing on your face is a smile, take it off and get on with your work. You never temper justice with mercy? šŸ˜„

  2. People in Ambridge have been questioning….Aren’t there grants available to help clean up the criminal element? Then this happens! Why would you ever appoint a person with a police brutality conviction to the Civil Service commission…..yes, it was a one time thing…the guy lost his cool…or was it the only time he got caught?

  3. And, before you start ranting about JP slamming the police…this was council’s stupidity to even appoint this man to the CSC!

  4. If that officer isn’t working there anymore I don’t see a problem. Is the officer still working there??


    :omg: :crap: :omg: :crap: :omg: :crap:

  6. just give the grant to a town like Mt. Lebanon or something….they could use a little more dough I’m sure.

  7. Police brutality in Ambridge goes back beyond this incident… The council did not avoid the appearance of impropriety when they voted in the retired officer convicted of brutality. Ambridge is a terrible police department as a whole.

  8. The DOJ should have gone back and looked into all the “Suicides” by hanging that took place in the old Ambridge jail. Google News search the articles from way back if you are interested. Guess who was in charge of the security camera back then and was present for at least one of the hangings?

  9. Mr. Heitzenrater needs to resign and council needs to apologize for its short-sighted appointment, immediately. His place on the commission has precluded HIS community from receiving a desperately-needed grant. It is reasonable that it may affect other grant applications as well.

    • He will never resign on his own…he might if given the option of resigning or being replaced…..In his small mind, he did nothing wrong!

    • How active have you been in your local Government? When are your meetings? Bitch but dont show up. Its much easier to complain on a blog……right? F U. Lazy butt. You all talk like you have the answers, but dont contribute a thing other than bitching. We all have jobs and other things to do, but we must find the time to make a difference. Just because you posted on a blog, no difference was made, only to you, it made you feel better until the next issue that you can respond to. F U. Go to your local government meeting and ask questions. Thats how you START to make a difference. Thats the first step.

      • No, none of us attend meetings, vote, or any of that good stuff…you are the only perfect one on here…Im sure that you attend every meeting of every type that is held in your community…yes, I now feel better!

  10. I no longer live in Ambridge, but I am familiar with what goes on in the town.

    First of all who in their right mind would agree to bring someone like Heitzenrater to the Civil Service Commission? Awe, McCoy, did you feel sorry for one of your side kicks??? He has absolutely NO experience, not to mention professionalism or HONOR. He does not know anything about police training or hiring of qualified police officers or any borough matters, period. These council members (Tony Cafarelli, Duke McCoy and Pucci) have the mentality and reading level of a third grader. Heitzenrater cost the borough 150K when he brutilized a prinsoner, and he just cost the borough 200K by denying Ambridge this COPs Grant. Additionally, as I understand it, he has cost the borough approx. 300K with various lawsuits. And you guys think this is ok to have someone like this on your Civil Service??? I understand he wants to run for council . . . . what is wrong with this picture? Certainly, you are not for the greater good/welfare of the town or for the Ambridge citizens. Appears you have your own Agenda’s . . . Dirty Old Politics!

    Cafarelli, McCoy and Pucci are so ignorant and consumed with back stabbing and revenge they clearly do not have the best interest of Ambridge. Cafarelli, aren’t you the Chairman of Public Works? I recently drove through Ambridge and never saw such deplorable conditions. Buildings boarded up; weeds growing everywhere, the maintenance of the roads . . . the list goes on. You must be too busy at the Edgeworth Club and trying to be popular.

    These guys have not made one good judgement call for the town. What has taken years to motion approval for the permanent position of Chief of Police to Mr. Mann makes no sense to me. It does not take a rocket scientist to know he is the right person to move the police department forward in a positive and safe way. Ambridge is in desperate need of individuals who are bright, articulate and have fresh effective ideas to bring the towns people and who complement Mayor D’Ambrosia’s values and expertise for this town.

    Voters . . . . .it is time to remove Tony Cafarelli, Duke McCoy and Joe Pucci! Is this the kind of leadership you want to continue running your town?

    Very Disappointed Alumni

    • James Mann is the absolute WRONG person to be chief of that town. Why do you think that it’s taken so long to appoint him? They are stalling as long as possible, because they don’t want him there. The only reason he is “acting chief” is because he has tenure.
      If he was to be appointed, it would be the whole “George David fiasco” allllll over again.

      They need to hire someone with PROPER training and education, FROM OUTSIDE OF AMBRIDGE. That is the ONLY way that Ambridge will get on the right track to becoming a decent town again.

  11. @hildabrand1

    I agree road are sickening the town is filthy, change is needed next election but…………..

    disagree with chief choice off Jimmy mann, that is a joke, rumor has it he double dips di much court time it is bankrupting the poor town and he got paid the court hours while working day time at sheriff’s department for years, maybe just a rumor but think someone might want to check that out compound with questionable sources informants, kinda dirty ehh, but he’ll he will just call wpxi and have someone come down interview him on a bridge jumper he has saved thirty unconscious drunks in last twenty years that happen to wake up on bridge with him saving them lol lol lol

    • Tony, I will WHOLEHEARTLY agree that Mann is the LAST person who should be appointed chief of police. He shouldn’t be appointed chief garbage collector. If ANYBODY in that town abuses his power of being in law enforcement, IT’S HIM. He and George David are two of a kind. Hell, we should just start calling him GD. jr. He is a disgrace to the Ambridge police, the uniform, and the town. He is a giant crybaby when he doesn’t get his way. You want to talk about cops who abuse their authority and badge, and have NO PROBLEM assaulting a woman, in cuffs or not, both physically, mentally, and sexually, HE IS YOUR MAN. The LAST thing that piece of shit needs is to be the official chief. Here’s a thought: IF HE WAS QUALIFIED FOR THE POSITION, HE WOULD HAVE BEEN APPOINTED IT BY NOW. The LAST decent chief that was employed there was Chief Sabol.
      Oh, he has most certainly as corrupt as they come. He’s one of the ones that are able to be bought off. Yeah, the whole sheriff thing that he had going is true, but who can really blame him (that is sarcastic, if you didn’t catch it), I mean, especially when the man who was lining his pockets very generously just up and DIES. I won’t name names there, to protect my family and the unnamed person’s family also, but if your from Ambridge, and grew up watching this horseshit, you would automatically KNOW who I was referencing.
      He is basically just a George David clone. Only this one likes to pick on and sexually harass females when they are in no real position to be able to fight back. Trust me, I know this VERY PERSONALLY, from personal experience.
      That piece of shit has no business with a gun and a badge, that whole “little man syndrome” gets to him every once in a while.
      In short, let me add with: FUCK JAMES MANN, AND THE WHORE HE RODE IN ON.

      • Vondell, I find it funny that out of the few people here that also agree that James Mann has NO BUISNESS whatsoever being the chief of police in Ambridge, YOU decide to single me out about it. No matter, I shall take care of you in short order, just as I have any other time.
        Seeing as your obviously uneducated ass has no idea what the definition of the word “jilted” means, I shall provide it for you, as per the free dictionary available online.
        JILTED: tr.v. jiltĀ·ed, jiltĀ·ing, jilts
        To deceive or drop (a lover) suddenly or callously.

        One who discards a lover

        Sorry to burst your bubble Vondell, but I don’t touch pig. I couldn’t care less if there was a deal dangling in front of me, that pork chop on 2 legs could pound salt, for all I give a shit.
        I’m not like you, Vondell, I don’t kiss up to and suck ass with the local piggy departments just to have something to bargain with later, when your ass eventually gets arrested AGAIN (and you and I both know it will). Oh yeah, this too:
        I’M NOT A FUCKING SNITCH ASS RAT EITHER, so I have no need to be on his “good side”. The Ambridge piggy who is playing “dress up” with the temporary chief title is cordially invited to suck shit out of my ass with a very small straw. Actually, I’ll invite you also, Vondell, since you should be used to the taste of shit by now, from kissing so much piggy ass.

        In short, you shouldn’t use words that you don’t understand the meaning of. “Jilited” is most certainly on that list.



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