Greensburg Police Chief Shawn Denning charged with federal drug crimes
GREENSBURG, Pa. (KDKA) - The chief of the Greensburg Police Department has been arrested and is facing charges for allegedly violating federal narcotics laws.
According to the Department of Justice, Shawn Denning is facing six federal criminal charges for orchestrating a series of drug deals.
The 41-year-old from Delmont was taken into custody Wednesday morning and made an appearance before the magistrate. He had been the chief of police since March 2022.
According to court documents by the Department of Justice, Denning was allegedly first involved in having conversations with a confidential informant in 2021. That confidential informant was working with the DEA as part of the investigation.
Paperwork alleges Denning would facilitate getting drugs and connect the informant with them for distribution over a 16-month period. Authorities say some drugs were sourced in California and Arizona and then delivered to the informant through the mail.
On several occasions, court documents allege Denning would use the app Wickr to communicate about the drugs.
In one conversation, paperwork shows he told an informant the app is "encrypted" and "safe for both of us."
The paperwork also shows a picture of what appears to be cocaine sent to the informant from Denning to show what Denning could supply them with.
Authorities allege Denning worked with at least three sources to distribute drugs, even sending what they called menus, listing products and prices.
The DEA says they have hard evidence connecting Denning to the case, including messages, audio and video recordings as well as surveillance.
"We believe it is important that the community know that Mr. Denning is no longer with the City of Greensburg," Mayor Robert Bell said in a statement. "Captain Donald Sarsfield will be acting Chief under further notice. We are conducting a thorough review and assisting the appropriate agencies as we can. There will be no further comment at this time."
Denning was charged with two counts of aiding and abetting the distribution of cocaine, two counts of aiding and abetting the distribution of methamphetamine, one count of aiding and abetting the attempted distribution of methamphetamine and one count of conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute drugs.
Denning is facing a maximum of 20 years in prison, a fine of $1 million or both.
The case is under investigation by the Drug Enforcement Agency and the FBI.
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