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Bethel Township man charged with violating election law

The father of a candidate for Bethel Township supervisor is facing charges stemming from derogatory postcards sent to voters about his son’s competitor in May’s primary election.

Mark Hassler of the 1600 block of Schubert Road has been charged with a misdemeanor crime for violating election law, according to the Berks County District Attorney’s Office.

The 59-year-old is awaiting a preliminary hearing scheduled to take place next month before District Judge Kim Bagenstose, Hamburg.

The charges stem from a contest held in May for the Republican nomination for a two-year seat on the board between incumbent Robbi Lane and challenger Thomas Hassler.

In the weeks leading up to the primary, the Berks County district attorney received more than a dozen complaints about anonymous postcards that were sent to township residents that attacked Lane. Sending out political mailers without identifying who paid for them is a violation of election law.

Lane, who ended up wining the nomination, said this week she was happy to see that charges were filed.

“I like the fact that they figured out who did it,” she said. “We’ll see what the repercussions will be for him but only time will tell as the case moves through the court system. As long as someone is being held accountable, I’m happy because I don’t want to see anyone else go through what I went through. It was horrible.”

According to court documents:

Detectives from the DA’s office began their investigation nine days after the May 18 primary following complaints from Bethel residents that they had received postcards disparaging Lane and asking residents not to vote for her.

Detectives were able to determine that the postcards were prepared and mailed by Vistaprint. It was also determined that the postcards did not properly identify who had paid for the endorsement.

On June 6, detectives served Vistaprint with a search warrant for information regarding the postcards. The company responded that they were paid for by an account held by Lisa Hassler.

Detectives contacted Lisa Hassler asking for information regarding her account and the transactions regarding the postcards. She complied and also informed them her husband, Mark Hassler, has access to the account.

Detectives then contacted Mark Hassler and asked about the postcards. He admitted that he designed, submitted and paid for the mailers. He stated that he had sent them in “an attempt to educate the public” about Lane.

Detectives then reviewed evidence associated with the investigation with members of the Berks County Election Services office and it was determined that Mark Hassler had violated election code.

Lane said the most upsetting aspect of the ordeal was that her opponent had tried to place the blame for the mailers on her supporters, accusing them of sending the postcards in an attempt to drum up sympathy.

“And all the time it was his supporters that were behind it,” she said.

Prior to the launch of the investigation, Thomas Hassler denied any involvement in the mailings.

“I did not send those out,” he told the Reading Eagle earlier this year, adding that he didn’t know who could be behind them. “I’ve been trying to find out who did it, too, because I would love to prove that it wasn’t me.”

Hassler said at the time that he believed people associated with Lane’s campaign were responsible for the mailers in an attempt to make him look bad.

Source: Berkshire mont

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