A former Lower Windsor Township supervisor who also served as East Prospect's deputy fire chief has avoided prison for thwarting police efforts to find a runaway girl with whom police said he was sexually involved.
Marlin James Mellinger, 55, of 1718 Long Level Road, pleaded guilty Wednesday to obstructing the administration of law or other government function, according to court records.
As part of a negotiated plea agreement, a charge of child endangerment was dropped, records state.
He was sentenced to two years of probation and ordered to pay court costs.
State police filed charges against Mellinger in May.
No sex charges: He was not charged for his alleged sexual relationship with the 17-year-old girl.
Instead, police accused him of endangering her welfare by misleading state troopers who were trying to find her after she ran away, according to court documents.
Police said Mellinger acted as a mentor to the teen, which is why state police went to him after she ran away on Feb. 25.
On that day, Mellinger told troopers he knew the girl had a prepaid cell phone and that she was planning on running away, but said he had no information as to her whereabouts, police said.
Troopers later learned the girl was still in the York area and was sending text messages to another person.
The girl eventually was found safe, police have said.
'Father figure': On Feb. 28, Mellinger was interviewed by police for a second time.
That's when he admitted he knew the girl's cell phone number and had previously exchanged texts with her, court records state.
He also said he played a "father figure" role in the girl's life, police said.
When police asked Mellinger if he had a sexual relationship with the girl, "he acknowledged that he did," records state.
Police said Mellinger failed to give troopers the girl's cell number on Feb. 25 to hide his sexual relationship with her, according to court records.
Phone-tracking: The number would have allowed troopers to zero in on the girl's location by determining which cell-phone tower her phone was pinging from, police said.
Mellinger told troopers "he was only trying to protect her because he knew she was prohibited from possessing the phone," court records state.
In June, Mellinger resigned his posts as township supervisor and deputy fire chief.
Defense attorney Jeff Marshall did not return a phone message seeking comment.
-- Reach Liz Evans Scolforo at firstname.lastname@example.org.