No stranger to controversy, Wyoming’s top cop faces theft charge

By Brigid Edmunds-Lawrence and Roger DuPuis - bedmunds@timesleader.com
Wyoming Borough Police Commissioner Michael Flanagan walks out of the state police barracks in Wyoming Thursday afternoon following his arrest on theft charges. - Sean McKeag | Sunday Dispatch

WYOMING — No stranger to controversy, borough Police Commissioner Michael J. Flanagan found himself on the other side of the law Thursday.

Flanagan faces charges in connection with a computer theft that state police say took place nearly four years ago.

Troopers allege Flanagan, 52, of Harding, stole the computer and other work-related items from his former employer, the Laflin Borough Police Department, in December 2014 as that force was being disbanded.

Flanagan declined to comment when leaving the state police barracks on Wyoming Avenue on Thursday afternoon.

“Everything will come out eventually,” he said. “I’ve had better days, but I’ll get through it.”

Flanagan was arraigned Thursday afternoon before District Judge Rick Cronauer on charges of theft, receiving stolen property and tampering with evidence.

Reached later Thursday, Wyoming Mayor Joseph Dominick said he could not comment on Flanagan’s arrest as it is a personnel matter, but pledged to follow borough code and handle the matter properly, noting that the commissioner is facing “some very serious charges.”

“Whatever can be done will be done,” Dominick said.

Flanagan has been in the headlines before regarding his tenure in Laflin.

In 2013, Laflin Borough council voted to demote Flanagan, who had been chief. He filed a federal lawsuit in November of that year, claiming he was never told why he was demoted, and that the move followed Flanagan asking whether council planned to disband the department.

In its response, the borough said Flanagan had been disciplined over the course of his employment, and that officials “had good cause to appoint another individual to serve as police chief while (Flanagan) was unable to work because of injury or sickness.”

The borough also responded that Flanagan had been part of various discussions pertaining to regionalization of borough police services, adding that he was serving in an appointed position and could be removed at any time with or without cause.

The lawsuit escalated into a series of claims and counterclaims, but the parties reached an undisclosed settlement in January 2015, one month after council voted to disband the department.

In the meanwhile, however, Flanagan had been hired as Wyoming’s police commissioner in October 2014, at a yearly salary of $30,000 and a requirement that he work at least 24 hours per week.

Flanagan was released following arraignment Thursday on $10,000 unsecured bail with a preliminary hearing set for Aug. 7 before District Judge Joseph D. Spagnuolo Jr.

Wyoming Borough Police Commissioner Michael Flanagan walks out of the state police barracks in Wyoming Thursday afternoon following his arrest on theft charges.
https://www.psdispatch.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/07/web1_Flanagan.jpgWyoming Borough Police Commissioner Michael Flanagan walks out of the state police barracks in Wyoming Thursday afternoon following his arrest on theft charges. Sean McKeag | Sunday Dispatch
Flanagan accused of stealing from former Laflin PD

By Brigid Edmunds-Lawrence and Roger DuPuis

bedmunds@timesleader.com