In a dispute that won't be settled over a beer any time soon, the owner of an Upper Darby bar filed a $1.7 million libel suit against the township's top cop this week.
Robert Herdelin, owner of Cheers, at 69th and Market streets, filed the suit in Delaware County Court in retaliation for comments that Police Superintendent Michael Chitwood made about his tavern after a homicide in the men's bathroom there in March.
Citing 313 police calls to the bar since 2007 for drugs, shootings and fights, Chitwood publicly called the place a "criminal enterprise" and a "cesspool."
When he learned of the suit recently, Chitwood wasn't fazed.
"He's not dealing with a virgin," Chitwood said. "He'll have his day in court and I'll have mine."
Herdelin, 69, said he had sealed a deal to sell his business for $900,000, but once Chitwood started his "shenanigans" that deal fell through.
"What he did will never be forgotten, it will never be forgiven and I will go to my grave with this one," Herdelin said.
He said he came to the figure by valuing the loss of the sale and the worth of his name. Although he lives in an apartment above the bar, he claims to have 11 Shore properties and estimates his worth to be "in excess" of $50 million.
"I'm not a trash collector from Chester," he said. "I put a value on my name in excess of $1 million."
Herdelin likened Chitwood's behavior to that of "Gestapo Germany," and called him a "pathological and psychological liar."
He said that it was just 2008 when Chitwood was praising him for capturing a man on the U.S. Marshals' most- wanted list.
"We did recognize him for it," Chitwood said, "but we also recognize him for the fact that there've been shootings, a murder and drug dealing inside that location."
Herdelin said he isn't responsible for the crime. "You cannot control spontaneous acts," he said.