Defendant: Douglass M. Brown, age 41
- 201 N. Sandy Lane
- Sinking Spring, PA 19608
- Insurance Fraud
- Accident Involving Damage to Attended Vehicle
- False Report of Theft or Conversion of Vehicle
- False Reports
- Driving On Roadways Laned for Traffic
- Criminal Conspiracy to Commit Insurance Fraud
- Criminal Conspiracy to Commit False Report of Theft or Conversion of Vehicle
On December 12, 2017, Berks County District Attorney Detectives initiated an investigation regarding an alleged theft of a vehicle subsequent to a hit and run accident. The accident occurred on December 11, 2017, at 2:07 a.m. in the 3400 block of Penn Avenue, Sinking Spring.
During the investigation, detectives learned that Sinking Spring Patrol Officer Travis Fritz was the dispatched officer to handle the traffic accident. Officer Fritz reported a three car hit and run accident. It was discovered that one of the involved vehicles had fled the scene. The hit and run vehicle was located a short distance away on Queen Street. The vehicle was abandoned with extensive passenger side front damage to the vehicle. The vehicle was registered to Timothy Chappelear with an address located in South Heidelberg Township. The operator of this vehicle caused damage to 2 parked vehicles and one of the parked vehicles had three occupants inside. These occupants were not injured in the crash.
Detectives learned that Officer Fritz personally knew the owner (Chappelear) of the hit and run vehicle and his spouse, Douglass Brown. Brown is employed as a Police Officer with the Bern Township Police Department.
During the course of Officer Fritz's investigation, he responded to Chappelear and Brown's residence in South Heidelberg Township. There, Officer Fritz met with both individuals. Detectives learned that during this meeting, all three (Chappelear, Brown, and Fritz) developed an alibi to report the vehicle stolen to the South Heidelberg Township Police Department.
Subsequently, Officer Fritz contacted the County of Berks Department of Emergency Services and requested a South Heidelberg Township Police Officer to be dispatched to the Chappelear/Brown residence. South Heidelberg Township Officer Jeb Cooper arrived and Officer Fritz informed him that Chappelear wanted to report his vehicle stolen. Officer Cooper met with Chappelear in the presence of Officer Fritz and he reported that his vehicle had been stolen from the driveway of his residence.
On December 20, 2017, Douglass Brown agreed to be interviewed by detectives. He was represented by counsel. During this interview, Brown admitted the following:
- Brown admitted to being the operator of the hit and run vehicle.
- Brown admitted to drinking alcoholic beverages before the crash.
- Brown admitted exiting the vehicle and fleeing on foot, and eventually being picked up in the area by his spouse (Chappelear). Then, they both drove home.
- Brown admitted to being at the residence when Officer Fritz arrived.
- Brown admitted to telling Officer Fritz that he was the operator of the hit and run vehicle.
- Brown admitted to reporting the vehicle stolen to his insurance company.
- Brown admitted that he fled the accident scene because he was under the influence of alcohol.
On January 3, 2018, detectives confirmed that Brown did file a claim of automobile property loss with his insurance company. In that claim, Brown alleges the vehicle was stolen. Brown signed his name to the claim form and had it notarized on December 12, 2017. Additionally, detectives learned that Brown subsequently contacted the insurance company on December 14, 2017, and reported that his mother had taken the vehicle.
On January 17, 2018, based on investigation conducted and information received, detectives obtained a warrant of arrest for Douglass M. Brown on the afore-mentioned listed charges. The warrant was issued by Magisterial District Judge Ann L. Young.
On January 28, 2018, at 10:30 a.m., Brown surrendered to detectives at the office of MDJ Ann L. Young for preliminary arraignment. Brown was accompanied by his attorney. He was released on unsecured bail.
** A Criminal Complaint is an accusation. A defendant is presumed innocent of the charges unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in court.