County suspends deputy sheriff

A Bucks County deputy sheriff was suspended Tuesday and has been subpoenaed to appear before a grand jury in Doylestown on Oct. 6, county officials said Thursday.

Sgt. Gary Browndorf was placed on administrative leave pending an investigation by the county District Attorney’s office, Sheriff Edward Donnelly said. That investigation is unrelated to the state grand jury probe into the Sheriff’s Office that started months ago, Donnelly said.

Scheduled to testify next week regarding misconduct in the Bucks County Sheriff's department, Deputy Sheriff Gary Browndorf is now under scrutiny himself.

District Attorney David Heckler declined to provide specifics about the case, but said the investigation “was initiated by us in response to a complaint received by a county detective within the last two weeks."

On Tuesday, authorities went to Browndorf’s house in Falls Township and confiscated his gun, badge and sheriff’s car.

Heckler declined to confirm a Channel 6 Action News report that the investigation involves Browndorf’s conduct during a recent arrest.

Browndorf, an 11-year veteran of the sheriff’s office and a former Philadelphia police officer, and his lawyer, Nino Tinari, could not be reached for comment.

The sheriff’s office has been under investigation for what Heckler called “one specific alleged incident, nothing to do with political activity or stealing from taxpayers.”

Early in that investigation, Browndorf was subpoenaed to testify before the county grand jury, but then Heckler handed over the case to the state Attorney General’s Office because of a possible conflict of interest. Heckler and Donnelly campaigned on the same Republican ticket in 2009.

The investigation of the Sheriff’s Office started on the heels of Register of Wills Barbara Reilly and Rebecca Kiefer, her longtime right hand, being charged with theft, conspiracy, official oppression, tampering with records, and other crimes. The charges were recommended in a 240-page investigative grand jury presentment that said workers in Reilly's office were pressured into doing political work and paid for it with public funds.

Reilly, Kiefer and another top assistant are scheduled to go on trial Nov. 28.