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New charges filed against former officer

July 18, 2006|by ANDREW SCHOTZ

HAGERSTOWN

Two new civil rights charges were filed Monday against a former police officer accused of making racial threats by phone and letters, the U.S. Attorney's Office in Baltimore said.

In a two-count criminal information, Jeffrey Scott Shifler, 41, of Maugansville, was charged with making threats against unspecified African-American students at two Hagerstown high schools and leaving a threatening voice-mail message for Alesia D. Parson-McBean, an African-American Hagerstown councilwoman.

Marcia Murphy, a spokeswoman for U.S. Attorney for the District of Maryland Rod J. Rosenstein, said the new charges will replace previous charges filed against Shifler.

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Shifler was charged by a criminal complaint Feb. 9 with one count apiece of making threats by phone, making threats by mail and falsely claiming he had placed anthrax at Hagerstown City Hall.

He was accused of anonymously targeting 25 people and institutions with hateful threats, insults and false crime reports from March 2005 to February 2006.

Authorities have said Shifler sent letters with "insulting and abusive" language to the Hagerstown Police Department after he was fired from his officer job in 2003 for falsifying payroll records.

He later was fired from the Boonsboro Police Department.

During a bond hearing in U.S. District Court last month, Assistant U.S. Attorney Stephen Schenning said Shifler collected news clippings about murders and suicides, information about Hagerstown's black churches and photos of the city's police chief and a city councilwoman.

A picture of a skull was found next to the councilwoman's picture, Schenning said.

Federal public defender Joseph Balter said Shifler never progressed beyond threats. He said there was "absolutely no evidence to show that he planned to do anything."

A date had not been scheduled as of Monday for Shifler to be arraigned.

He faces a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison, three years of supervised release and a $250,000 fine on each charge, Rosenstein's office said.

A federal magistrate ruled last month that Shifler could be released, under strict supervision, on $100,000 bail, but a federal judge overturned that decision on appeal the next day and denied Shifler bail.

U.S. District Judge J. Frederick Motz, who issued the no-bail decision June 16, said then that Shifler was being held at a prison in Allegany County, Md.

Still detained

Murphy confirmed Monday that Shifler still was being detained, but she wouldn't say where because of concerns about security.

The information - a formal statement of charges by an individual - filed Monday alleges that Shifler called the Washington County Board of Education office Nov. 29, 2005, and said, "We have two guns at North High. We have two guns at South High. We're going to blow the n-----s away."

It also alleges that Shifler called Parson-McBean's home on Jan. 31, 2006, and left as a message: "Hi, Alesia. Please talk to us soon. We're the KKK. We're about to take you down and burn your house. The end is near, n-----, so get prepared. We'll see you soon. Bye-bye."

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