SUNBURY — One week before he was scheduled to go to trial, a former Shamokin bail bondsman pleaded no contest to a firearms offense, bigamy, forgery and two counts of unsworn falsification and was sentenced to approximately one to two years in county prison and 10 years consecutive probation.
Northumberland County Judge Paige Rosini on Thursday imposed the sentence on 44-year-old Christopher I. Hauptmann, who also was ordered to pay $1,250 in fines plus costs.
By pleading no contest, Hauptmann is neither admitting nor denying guilt, but acknowledges the commonwealth had enough evidence to possibly convict him of the charges at a jury trial that was scheduled for Jan. 11 and Jan. 12 before Rosini. The no-contest pleas are the same as guilty pleas for sentencing purposes.
He received jail time for possessing a firearm while being a convicted felon that was amended by the commonwealth from a felony to a misdemeanor. The forgery offense is a felony while bigamy and unsworn falsification are misdemeanors.
All the charges were filed by Northumberland County Detective Degg Stark. Additional offenses were not prosecuted under a plea agreement reached with the district attorney’s office.
If convicted of all charges, Hauptmann was facing a maximum of 10 years incarceration.
Hauptmann was given credit for 332 days already served in prison, which means he could be released from jail in about a month. But he faces additional felony charges in Schuylkill County relating to crimes allegedly committed at Kahler’s Gun Shop in Helfenstein that most likely will keep him incarcerated until that case is resolved.
The defendant, who was represented by private attorney Peter Kay, of Snyder County, is prohibited from having any contact with his first wife, Shannon Deitrich, who testified at previous hearings that Hauptmann was simultaneously married to her and her daughter, Kaylee Paige Durovick.
There is no restitution in the case.
If he were released from prison in about a month, Hauptmann, who has a prior record score of two, would remain on parole until February 2019 and then begin serving his 10 years of probation, which means he would be supervised by the court until 2029. If Hauptmann violates conditions of his parole or probation, he faces additional jail time.
In order for Hauptmann to be released from prison, he must secure a home plan approved by adult probation and the court.
Upon being escorted from the courtroom by Chief Deputy Sheriff Curtis Cooke, Hauptmann thanked his wife (Kaylee Durovick) for supporting him through his legal saga and Kay for doing a “wonderful” job in defending him.
Durovick had attended all of Hauptmann’s previous court appearances, but was not present Thursday.
Hauptmann had his legs shackled during the plea and sentencing and looked much thinner than his previous court appearances. Some reports indicated he lost 45 pounds during his incarceration.
He was recommitted to Snyder County Prison.
Kay, who waived a pre-sentence investigation so his client could be sentenced immediately after his no-contest pleas, stated, “Mr. Hauptmann wants to close the book on this chapter and begin moving on with his life. There were a lot of elements that went into the plea agreement and my client just wanted closure in the case if granted the opportunity.”
Northumberland County District Attorney Tony Matulewicz, who prosecuted the case, said Kay approached him with a plea deal over a month ago that called for the same sentence imposed by Rosini. Matulewicz said he agreed to the plea offer Wednesday.
“We amended the firearms offense from a felony to a misdemeanor because we would have had to prove at trial that the charge of distribution of under 28 grams of marijuana that he was convicted of in New Jersey in 1994 was equivalent to a felony in Pennsylvania,” Matulewicz explained.
“We were preparing for trial before approving the plea agreement,” he added. “Ten years of probation is a long time. His behavior will be closely monitored and if he screws up, he will return to prison.”
Matulewicz pointed out that Hauptmann’s bail bondsman license has been revoked and he cannot own a firearm the rest of his life.
“I discussed the pros and cons of the case with Mr. Kay, Degg (Stark) and the victim (Shannon Deitrich) and we all agreed with the plea agreement. I feel it was a fair and just sentence.”
Hauptmann, also known as Christopher Buckley, was charged by Stark with being simultaneously married to Deitrich and her 18-year-old daughter.
Hauptmann and Durovick, who were married Sept. 16, 2016, formerly operated PA Bail and Recovery in Coal Township.
Hauptmann was charged in February with four felony counts of possessing a firearm while being a convicted felon and one misdemeanor count of bigamy.
He is accused of possessing a firearm multiple times between June 2015 and January 2017 in the county while being a convicted felon on drug charges in Mercer County, New Jersey.
Stark said Hauptmann purchased the firearms and concealed weapons permits under his name because he knew that the criminal record of Christopher Buckley would prevent him from acquiring them.
Stark charged Hauptmann in March with four counts of unsworn falsification and three counts of tampering with public records involving incidents in the sheriff’s office and register and recorder’s department at the county courthouse relating to the firearms and bigamy offenses.
In May, Stark and state police at Frackville also charged Hauptmann with illegally purchasing guns in Schuylkill and Snyder counties. Those charges include four felony counts of illegal possession of a firearm, three felony counts of tampering with public records and three misdemeanor counts of unsworn falsification to authorities in Schuylkill County, and two felony counts of forgery and two misdemeanor counts of tampering with records or identification in Snyder County.
Hauptmann is accused of purchasing a rifle, shotgun and pistol from Kahler’s Gun Shop in Helfenstein between 2011 and 2017. He later transferred the rifle and shotgun to his wife, Kaylee, Matulewicz said.
During the purchase of the guns, Hauptmann fraudulently answered “no” to having a previous felony conviction, Matulewicz said.
Matulewicz said in a separate incident in February 2010, Hauptmann filed a fraudulent application with the Social Security Administration Office in Selinsgrove seeking a new Social Security number. Hauptmann, then known as Buckley, claimed an ex-girlfriend had been tracking his Social Security number and had used it to find him, then stab him.
To back this story, Hauptmann submitted a fictitious state police report describing the stabbing, as well as a falsified Clarion County Court order, Matulewicz said. He subsequently received a new Social Security number, Matulewicz said.
He was charged as Christopher Edward Buckley in the case because he used the Buckley name on the application, the district attorney said.