- Associated Press - Wednesday, January 21, 2015

BRADFORD, Pa. (AP) - A recently retired northwestern Pennsylvania fire chief has been charged with secretly recording conversations he had with the local chief of police and others.

Officials in Bradford announced earlier this month that Christopher Angell retired as fire chief, but offered no explanation. He had held the position since February 2011.

On Tuesday, 49-year-old Angell was arraigned on a single count of interception of communications, a third-degree felony carrying up to seven years in prison, The Bradford Era (http://bit.ly/1xX65KH) reported.

It’s illegal to record a conversation in Pennsylvania unless the other person gives permission. According to the complaint, the police chief didn’t know he was being recorded.

Angell told a district judge he’s representing himself and online court records don’t list a defense attorney. Calls to Angell’s home telephone Wednesday were unanswered.

McKean County District Attorney Raymond Learn contends Angell recorded the conversations with Bradford police Chief Chris Lucco and others between May 2011 and December 2013.

Two firefighters were looking for a calculator in Angell’s desk when they found a tape recorder. When they played the tapes and heard the conversations, they contacted city police, who turned over the investigation to the DA.

Lucco released a statement clarifying that he turned over the investigation to the DA because the recordings violated the law, not because of the content.

“The reason this incident was pursued was based solely on ethical violations and invasion of mine and the other victims’ privacy,” the statement said.

The others heard on the recording were not identified in court papers, but are believed to be other city officials and residents. The criminal complaint doesn’t describe the content of the conversations.

County Detective Ryan Yingling said in the complaint that Angell at first claimed he might not even have a tape recorder, but eventually acknowledged he made the recordings and knew they were illegal saying, “I take responsibility for it, I’m guilty.”

Angell faces a preliminary hearing Jan. 29.

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Information from: The Bradford Era, http://www.bradfordera.com

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