Mahoning police officer faces 3 counts of forgery
TERRY AHNER/TIMES NEWS Suspended Mahoning Township police officer Marvin Mertz, right, is shown leaving the office of District Judge Bruce Appleton of Palmerton on Wednesday. Mertz waived his right to a preliminary hearing.
A Mahoning Township police officer with a checkered past now faces several counts of forgery and other offenses.
Marvin Mertz, 35, of Knoll Drive, Lehighton, waived his right to a preliminary hearing Wednesday before District Justice Bruce Appleton of Palmerton.
Mertz will appear before the Carbon County Court of Common Pleas at 8:30 a.m. Aug. 12, for a pretrial hearing on three counts of forgery, as well as one count of tampering with records or identification.
Already on suspension as he awaits trial for allegedly falsifying an accident report, Mertz remains free in lieu of $15,000 unsecured bail.
According to the affidavit of probable cause filed by state agent James Maleno of the Pennsylvania Office of the Attorney General:
The National Rifle Association of Fairfax, Va, received an application for a renewal request of a Law Enforcement Firearms Instructor that was completed by Mertz, already suspended, that contained false information and forged certificates, according to the affidavit.
A letter dated April 12, 2010, from the Honorable Gary F. Dobias, District Attorney of Carbon County, requested that the Office of Attorney General assume jurisdiction of the investigation due to a conflict of interest, the affidavit says.
A former instructor, Mertz's certification expired on Aug. 22, 2009. In order to recertify with the NRA as a firearms instructor, the applicant must submit proof of at least 24 hours of acceptable continuing education training, and this training must have taken place in the three years since the applicant's last certification.
Tim Lose told Maleno that he reviewed the application for renewal of firearm instructor certification submitted by Mertz just prior to Jan. 14, 2010.
The application included an additional typewritten sheet of paper wherein Mertz explained the lateness of his application was caused by his home being "almost totally destroyed" by fire.
On or about March 26, 2010, Lose received a resubmitted application for renewal of firearm certification from Mertz, at which point Lose told Maleno he became suspicious of the application.
On the PRISis certificate, the space provided for the name of the person who completed the course was left blank. Lose then searched the Internet and did not find an association of Mertz and the Mahoning Township Police Department, the agency listed on Mertz's application.
Lose then contacted Kenneth Barnes, chief of police, Mahoning Township Police Department, on March 26, 2010, at which time Barnes informed Lose that Mertz was currently suspended and has been since June 4, 2008.
On April 5, 2010, Richard Oberlander, Senior Instructor, Advanced Interactive Systems, Tukwila, Wash., was contacted by Maleno. Oberlander stated that Mertz was trained by AIS, by use of the PRISim Simulator, in April of 2006, at the Monroe County Public Safety Center. But, AIS provided no training in the state of Pennsylvania in April of 2009, and, specifically, no training to Mertz, which was in direct conflict with the purported PRISim Simulator certificate submitted by Mertz to the NRA. Oberlander stated that as of July 28, 2006, Greg Hoover was no longer employed by AIS.
Oberlander provided Maleno with a sample PRISim Certificate for the year of 2009, which contained a signature line of John M. Willis. The purported PRISim certificate submitted by Mertz include a signature line containing the name of Greg Hoover, who has not been employed by AIS since 2006. Oberlander also provided AIS training schedules for the month of April of 2009, but AIS did not train Mertz in 2009, as it provided no training in the state of Pennsylvania in April of 2009, further invalidating the certificate submitted by Mertz.
On June 4, 2010, Gary Williams, director of the Carbon County Communications Center, provided Maleno with Computer Aided Dispatches that detailed any and all calls for service to 371 Knoll Drive, the residence of Mertz from 2004 through January 2010. The records show no catastrophic fires or events at Mertz's residence.
On June 11, Guy Miller, manager of the Monroe County Public Safety Facility informed Maleno that he researched the facilities records and found that AIS provided no training on April 7-8, 2009, and that the enclosed AIS PRISim simulator certificate submitted by Mertz is dated April 7, 2009.
The form entitled "Application for Registration of Continuing Education Hours" lists Mertz as having attended the "Glock Armorer Course," provided by "Bethlehem PD" with the location of "Bethlehem PA," on Feb. 26, 2008. The form indicates there was eight hours of training. The purported Glock certificate, included with the application, appears to be signed by Bryan James, program manager, Training Division, Glock Professional Incorporated.
On June 18, Maleno contacted Sergeant Joseph Gross, Bethlehem Police Department, who reported that the Bethlehem Police Department did not host a Glock Armorer Course on Wednesday, Feb. 20, 2008, which is in direct conflict with the purported Glock Perfection Armorer's Course certificate submitted by Mertz to the NRA.
Also on June 18, Maleno contacted Janine C. Floyd, a paralegal for Glock Professional, who reported that Glock has no record of Mertz taking their Armorer's Course, and that Bryan James, program manager, Training Division, has not worked in that position since 2005.
Floyd also stated that Glock Professional did no training at the Bethlehem Police Department on Wednesday, Feb. 20, 2008, and that Glock Professional training days are Tuesdays and Thursdays.
Finally, Floyd stated that the Glock Armorer's Course certificate that was submitted to the NRA by Mertz was not authentic.