The federal trial for a former Pennsylvania Liquor Control Enforcement officer accused of extortion ended abruptly Thursday with a guilty plea.
The officer, Gina Marie Kepler, 35, of Salem, N.J., was accused of using her position at the bureau, which is run by the state police, to scam $13,000 in cash from nine bar owners in Montgomery and Bucks Counties.
After the prosecution rested, Kepler, who had been expected to testify, caucused with her attorney, William R. Spade Jr., for about half an hour before tearfully telling U.S. District Judge Stewart Dalzell that she wanted to "accept responsibility" for her crimes.
For three days, Assistant U.S. Attorney Arlene D. Fisk presented more than a dozen witnesses, including representatives of the nine bars, who described myriad reasons Kepler gave them for not repaying money she owed them.
Dalzell ordered a presentence investigation. Kepler, who faces a maximum possible sentence of 180 years and $2.25 million in fines, will be sentenced Sept. 15.