Theft, misconduct charges cost Muncie man police job in Chesterfield

MUNCIE, Ind. — A Muncie man has lost his job as an officer with the Chesterfield Police Department over allegations he stole gasoline.

Harley J. Pagel, 27, is accused of pumping gasoline charged to the town of Chesterfield into his personal vehicle at a Yorktown convenience store in December.

This week, Pagel was charged in Delaware Circuit Court 5 with official misconduct, obstruction of justice and theft.

According to a report filed by Michael Milbourn, an officer with the Chesterfield department, an Anderson man posted on Facebook in December that he had observed a Chesterfield officer — later identified as Pagel — pumping gas into his department-owned Blazer at a Yorktown Speedway station.

As part of the same transaction, the Anderson man said, a woman then pulled her Jeep Cherokee to the pump and that Harley also put gasoline in that vehicle.

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The Anderson man agreed, at Milbourn's request, to remove his post while an investigation was conducted.

Milbourn reported surveillance video from the Speedway station confirmed the Anderson man's account of the Dec. 22 incident.

"It was very evident that this was not a spur-of-the-moment decision as the way (Pagel and the woman) both pulled into the lot, and her pulling into the pump area and stopping short of the pump and Harley then backing closely up to the Jeep," the Chesterfield officer wrote.

Questioned about the incident on Dec. 27, Milbourn wrote, Pagel "hung his head and said 'I knew this would come back and bite me in the ---.'

The Muncie man also said "he didn't really know why he had done this except to save a buck or two."

Pagel later resigned from his job as a Chesterfield police officer.

Milbourn reported he contacted the Indiana Law Enforcement Academy and that Pagel would not be participating as planned in an academy class set to begin Jan. 3.

On Dec. 29, Pagel allegedly sent a message to the Anderson man who had posted about his behavior on Facebook, calling him profane names and saying "if he had a problem with what he was doing, he should have said something to him, not his boss."

Milbourn then told the former officer if he contacted the Anderson man or his family again, "I'd file harassment charges on him."

The report also recounted Pagel's failed effort to return to his former job, as a corrections officer at the Delaware County jail, after his employment as a Chesterfield officer ended. That episode reportedly concluded with an angry text message being sent to Pagel's former supervisor at the jail.

"Harley should be decertified as a law enforcement (officer) in the state of Indiana and the appropriate info will be sent," Milbourn concluded.

The obstruction of justice and official misconduct charges against Pagel are Level 6 felonies carrying maximum 30-month prison sentences. The obstruction charge refers to his online contact with the Anderson Facebook poster.

The theft count is a misdemeanor.

Douglas Walker is a news reporter at The Star Press. Contact him at 765-213-5851 or at dwalker@muncie.gannett.com.

This article originally appeared on Muncie Star Press: Muncie man loses Chesterfield police job over theft, misconduct charges