Ex-Morrisville cop who used police info to harass couple gets jail

·3 min read

A former Morrisville police officer will spend time in county jail after a judge found him guilty of using police resources to harass a Lower Makefield couple for their driving in 2019.

On Monday, former Morrisville Cpl. Michael Pitcher, 43, was sentenced to six to 23 months in county jail, according to the Attorney General's Office, which prosecuted the case.

"Michael Pitcher used police resources to harass innocent people who inconvenienced him," AG Josh Shapiro said in a statement. "This is an absurd abuse of power. Pitcher will spend time in prison for his crime and will never again have the ability to use his position of authority to harm his community."

Pitcher's attorney, Louis Busico, said his client will spend 45 days in jail, followed by 45 days of work release and then 90 days of house arrest.

Pitcher was found guilty during a bench trial in October. Judge Brian McGuffin told Pitcher he believed what the ex-cop did to the couple on April 6, 2019, was "reprehensible."

McGuffin found Pitcher guilty on charges of unlawful use of a computer, which is a felony, as well as misdemeanors of making terroristic threats, official oppression and harassment.

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The former corporal was charged in July 2019 after Lower Makefield police found he used police resources to look up the phone number for the couple and harass them when he was unhappy with their driving. He claimed the driver was driving recklessly and wanted to issue them a ticket.

Morrisville Borough Council terminated him in June 2020. He was suspended after he was charged.

Lower Makefield police said Pitcher was on his way to work while driving behind the couple in a Porsche, south on River Road. He was driving erratically and tailgating, and attempted to pass them on the two-lane road.

He testified he did that and flashed his badge in an attempt to pull them over.

The couple turned onto Black Rock Road and Pitcher's SUV accelerated and caused its tires to squeal.

Later, the couple received a threatening phone call, according to police. Investigators said Pitcher called the couple and told them to install cameras, and made references to their address and to damaging their vehicle.

Lower Makefield police said Pitcher used JNET, a police-only database to search their vehicle registration and find their phone number. He used the JNET database three times. Pitcher tried calling the couple on a private number, but their line automatically blocks private numbers.

He then used a "spoofing" application, which would hide his actual number, on his personal phone to call them and harass them, according to police.

Chief Deputy Attorney General Brian Zarallo called Pitcher's "spoofing" technique "terrifying," and said it prompted the victims to install cameras as a result of the call. He noted that Pitcher's investigation was outside of his jurisdiction as well.

McGuffin, who agreed with Zarallo, tore into Pitcher when he found him guilty in October. Pitcher testified that "call spoofing" was a "special investigation technique," which McGuffin did not believe.

"There was no legitimate purpose for that phone call," the judge said.

McGuffin told Pitcher that he thought he was lying when he testified during the trial. The judge said Pitcher seemed "sneaky and invasive," and couldn't answer questions.

He too took issue with the fact that Pitcher chose not to call Lower Makefield about what he saw on the road.

"Instead (the victims) call police and bring the police to their residence," he said. "That's consistent with truth."

Pitcher, who now works as a painter, was with Morrisville police since 2007.

His attorney said they were grateful that McGuffin imposed a sentence below what the prosecution had requested.

This article originally appeared on Bucks County Courier Times: Ex-Morrisville cop Michael Pitcher gets prison for harassing Bucks couple