CANTON BOROUGH — Canton Borough’s chief of police and his wife, the borough’s administrator, are both facing multiple accusations when it comes to how they have been doing their jobs.
With Chief Doug Seeley, this includes how he has responded to alleged domestic assault cases, handled mandated reporting, and disposed of items in a drug case. Critics claim that he and his wife Amy have retaliated against a number of individuals, which include borough employees and members of borough council.
In response, the Seeleys have said they “will let their good works and unblemished records speak for them,” while highlighting that no complaints or criminal charges have been brought against them. “It is a sad day for the residents of Canton Borough that their public servants must be subjected to these accusations, instead of allowing them to continue serving their community. Despite this unfortunate situation, the Seeleys are proud to call Canton home.”
Failure to act
Canton Borough Council President David Groover has stated concerns that Doug Seeley did not immediately report information he had been made aware with regard to former Canton Borough officer Joshua Gleco, who was fired from the department around this time last year after being sentenced to 16 to 48 months in state prison. Gleco pleaded guilty to charges related to an alleged sexual relationship with a 16-year-old female and wiretapping for illegally recording phone calls with multiple individuals, businesses and organizations.
Groover claimed that in August of 2018 an outside party told him that they had heard that a Canton Borough police officer was having sexual contact with a minor.
According to Groover, who was on Canton Borough Council at that time, he and another individual met with Doug the next day to talk about the claim.
Reflecting on the discussion, Groover said Doug already knew the name of the victim and some details about Gleco and the victim before the meeting, but said the investigation had to be handled by Pennsylvania State Police since it was based inside Canton’s police department. Groover remembered telling Doug to “get it going.”
Groover said he heard nothing more of the incident until January when Pennsylvania State Police arrested Gleco at the Canton Borough police station. When Groover asked one of the state troopers who was involved in arresting Gleco why it took so long for them to make an arrest, the council president said the trooper informed him that state police had only been told about the incident two days prior. According to Groover, state police didn’t end up investigating any other avenues in the case, although he was told that a failure for a mandated reporter to report such an incident could result in an “automatic felony” if the perpetrator was found guilty.
“It struck me really odd,” Groover said. “Nobody is above the law.”
When asked when he was made aware of allegations that Gleco had had ongoing sexual contact with a juvenile, if he reported them immediately, who he reported the allegations to, if he didn’t report them immediately why he chose not to do so and when he did report them, Doug stated, “I will not divulge specifics of that investigation, given the nature of the crime, except to say that when certain credible information came into the possession of another representative of the Canton Borough Police regarding Officer Gleco, a prompt report was made to ChildLine (as required by law by mandated reporters like police and teachers) with my knowledge and blessing.”
“The specific manner in which CYS and the Pennsylvania state police conducted their investigation thereafter is outside the scope of my knowledge,” he continued. “What I can say is that the Canton Borough Police cooperated with the applicable government agencies and assisted whenever possible with the investigation that led to Mr. Gleco’s arrest and later conviction and sentencing.”
Doug noted that he is not aware of any investigation of any kind by Canton Borough, Pennsylvania State Police or any other agency or organization for any alleged lack of mandated reporting on his part.
Concerns have also been reported by an anonymous individual with inside knowledge of the situation that the chief has allegedly responded to reports of domestic violence while on active duty and neglected to remove perpetrators from residences where the alleged abuse has taken place after witnessing signs of abuse on at least three occasions.
Pennsylvania state law requires on-duty police officers to remove an individual from the scene of a domestic violence situation for at least 24 hours if signs of violence, such as physical marks on the victim, are present.
Groover stated that both Canton Mayor Richard Porter and Canton citizens have approached him regarding potential mishandling of domestic violence by the chief, and that he has asked Porter, as the legal head of the police department, to look into the allegations against the chief. However, Groover has not been given an update on the situation except for that Porter was waiting on victim statements.
An anonymous victim of an alleged domestic assault in Canton Borough in 2018 stated that Doug had been the officer to respond to an incident that involved physical violence against her and that he did not remove the perpetrator from the household or file charges against him.
Arla Moyer, another Canton Borough citizen, confronted Doug during Canton Borough Council’s August meeting, saying that she had told him that someone had threatened her life and that he had not taken any action and said she was lying.
When asked if he has ever neglected to remove an individual from a household after responding to a domestic violence situation, Doug responded saying, “It is difficult to respond to generalized statements without knowing the particular individuals involved. However, in answer to the question, the the answer is no. In alleged domestic violence situations, I observe the law.”
The chief also stated that he has never been confronted about this issue by borough representatives or outside agencies.
Improper destruction of evidence
Groover also reported that Doug asked him to participate in what he believes is illegal destruction of police evidence including drugs and drug paraphernalia, although he did not find out until after disposing of the items that what he was asked to do was unlawful.
According to Groover, while he was employed with the Canton Borough Street Department (on what was later found through photographic evidence to be January 19, 2016), Doug brought a brown paper bag to the street shed where he was working and asked him and another employee to destroy it, saying that it was “mostly paraphernalia.”
Groover said that he believed it was “a normal part of the job” and dumped the bag, which contained glass pipes, knives and a small bag of white powdery substance, and smashed the contents with machinery before putting it in the dumpster. The employees took photos throughout the whole process to show they had disposed of the items.
The chief was not present while the employees were disposing of the evidence, Groover claimed.
After they smashed and put the items in the dumpster, the employees were asked by an anonymous individual with inside knowledge of the situation what they did with the “big bag of weed” that was in with the rest of the evidence, according to Groover.
Groover remembered telling the individual that there was no marijuana in the bag with the rest of the evidence. The individual told them that there was supposed to be a large bag of marijuana in with the evidence and informed them that court orders are needed to destroy evidence. They were then asked if they had signed a court order or were presented with one, to which Groover replied that they had not been.
At this point, Groover said, he learned that the destruction of the evidence had been handled “very improperly” and that he should not have handled the items at all unless he was shown or given a copy of a court order.
When asked if he had asked borough employees to destroy police evidence, if he has a legal court order to destroy/have the employees destroy police evidence, why he asked them to destroy the evidence and how evidence is usually destroyed, Doug commented, “Any destruction of drug paraphernalia or suspected illicit drugs would have been undertaken in the manner advised by the Bradford County Detective and/or the then-serving Bradford County District Attorney, and only after the disposition of the cases in which they had any potential evidentiary value. While I cannot speak to any particular case, I do recall on one occasion giving two borough employees some pieces of drug paraphernalia (but not drugs), namely glass pipes, to destroy by breaking the items with a piece of heavy equipment. I remained present and oversaw the destruction of the paraphernalia on that occasion.”
When asked if a bag of marijuana was included with the evidence at any point, if so why it was not included in the evidence he asked the employees to destroy and what happened to it, Doug relayed, “Without reference to a particular case, it is difficult to respond to this question. However, I can say that I never gave a bag of marijuana to any borough employee, nor would I ever do so. A borough police officer or I would have destroyed the marijuana in a manner permitted by law.”
Groover, as well as Canton Borough Council Chris Schrader and another local source who has spoken under the agreement of anonymity, have voiced concerns about both Doug and Amy Seeley using retaliation against them and others who disagree with or speak out against them.
Schrader said that when he was elected to Canton Borough Council in January he took action to remove a borough ordinance that he felt could negatively impact the borough.
According to Schrader, after the action, which had ties to Amy Seeley’s employment, friends of the Seeleys began attending council meetings “trying to discredit and making defamatory comments about (him,)” which he feels is retaliation.
Groover, who has worked on Canton Borough Council’s road crew for many years, said he did not experience mistreatment until he became a member of Canton Borough Council and addressed an issue regarding a wrongdoing on the part of the Seeleys that he provided no further information about.
A law enforcement officer spoke with him about an incident that was ongoing in Canton Borough Police Department that could be a “very big liability for the borough” and advised him to take care of it, according to Groover.
Groover explained that he was still new to council and unsure how to handle the issue, so he called local government services and borough Solicitor David Brann and handled it exactly as they said he should, by taking it to Canton Borough Council in a “very matter of fact” manner, and not placing blame.
Groover stressed that the incident caused contention.
“(At the) next council meeting I was yelled at, accused of many things at my job, but there had never been an issue with my job ever in the five years I had been there at that point,” he said.
“Unfortunately we’ve had other employees, police officers, leave and state that the reason they had left is for the retaliation from the office,” Groover continued. “A lot of it, people are worried to say anything I think because of the fear of retaliation.”
After that incident, Groover alleges that began to be “screamed at,” “berated” and “attacked” by Amy frequently during work hours, which he considers to be a violation of the Whistleblower Protection Act and workplace harassment. Groover later found print-outs of his wife’s Facebook page, where she had been speaking to a family member about babysitting their child, on Amy’s desk.
Groover relayed that when he asked Amy why the papers were there, she first said she printed them out to remind herself to talk to him. But after asking her again, she stated that his wife could not babysit without a day care license. Groover felt this was another act of retaliation.
“Unfortunately it seems to be that that type of retaliation is what has kept people who want the right things to be done from happening,” he said. “If something is brought against me at council … I’m not going to come back retaliating against you or be upset and having a mean demeanor towards you … to me that’s the proper way to handle it not somebody says something that they think you did wrong, you fire back at them immediately and retaliate, I don’t agree with that and that’s a culture that needs to stop and I’m unsure how to go about it right now to get it to stop.”
Groover stated that he has been hesitant to come forward with information he knows relating to the Seeleys because of his job and has considered quitting, but feels as though there are many people who have been retaliated against by the Seeleys for many years and that it would be wrong to allow actions he believes impact the town negatively to continue.
“I can’t in a community-minded sense of duty, I can’t rightfully feel okay with myself walking away from it and saying whatever, you do what you’ve been doing for years anyway, because then what’s going to happen to the next person and then the next person and then the next person,” he said. “Solve the problem. … It’s been a problem and it needs a solution, and it’s just been too long that it’s been that way.”
When asked if any Canton Borough police officer has listed retaliation as a reason for resigning from the department, Doug stated, “I cannot speak to any given situation as I do not know which officer you are referring to in your question. Nor, if I knew which officer you were referring to, would I discuss the contents of his/her exit interview or resignation letter, to the extent that his/her reasons for leaving would be a confidential employment matter. I will only say that, as with any job, any number of factors play into a person’s decision to leave, such as compensation, work hours, family reasons, opportunities for professional advancement.”
When asked if either feel they have used intimidation or retaliation against any individuals including through the use of codes enforcement, legal matters, employment or personal situations, they Doug and Amy responded saying, “We have never used intimidation or retaliation against any individuals in any capacity. We are professionals committed to serving the people of Canton Borough, and we expect other professionals to share that same level of commitment.”