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Former Harrisburg mayor Stephen Reed gets probation, small fine in stolen artifacts case

Former Harrisburg Mayor Stephen Reed spoke to members of the media following his sentencing on Friday. - (Photo / Jason Scott)

Former Harrisburg Mayor Stephen Reed walked away this afternoon with two years of supervised probation and a $2,000 fine following his guilty plea over stolen historic artifacts owned by the city.

In handing down the sentence, Senior Judge Kevin Hess cited Reed’s battle with stage four prostate cancer and lack of prior criminal offenses as primary reasons for levying the minor sentence against the 67-year-old.

Hess said prison time could be a “deadly consequence” for Reed, who left office in 2010 after 28 years as mayor.

After the hearing, Reed said he was relieved for the case to be over, so he can focus more on his cancer treatment. The former mayor spoke candidly about his prognosis, stating that the cancer was spreading throughout his body and will likely turn into terminal bone cancer.

“It’s a challenge,” he said.

Reed said he takes full responsibility for illegally possessing Wild West memorabilia worth about $19,000. He said he did not want to sit through a trial and present a “bogus” defense for those 20 items.

Rebecca Franz, deputy attorney general, said she believes the sentencing imposed by the judge was fair and achieved justice and closure for the citizens of Harrisburg and Pennsylvania.

But current Mayor Eric Papenfuse expressed disappointment. His office was hoping for a sentence of at least two to five years, citing the magnitude of the crime. 

Reed was indicted in the summer of 2015 on nearly 500 theft, bribery and corruption charges, but most of those charges were later dropped because too much time had passed since he left office.

Papenfuse called the end result a “fundamental miscalculation” by the prosecutors and vowed that the city will continue to fight. He said he believes others from the Reed era will face criminal and civil cases in the coming years over the city’s past debt woes tied to the incinerator, as well as the historic artifacts purchased by Reed, who hoped to include them in a Wild West museum.

“We will be paying the price of these actions for generations to come,” Papenfuse said.

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