Police: No more arrests in Starr case

State police also say no more additional victims have surfaced

No additional victims have surfaced, and there will be no additional arrests in the state police investigation of an Altoona police officer accused of various schemes to get money to feed his gambling habit, state police said this week.

Altoona police Sgt. Matthew Starr was arrested May 9 and faces 10 felony charges stemming from a state police probe into the now-suspended officer’s alleged scams and schemes over several years, including bilking the city of Altoona for overtime while playing table games at a Maryland casino.

“There will be no other arrests relative to the Starr investigation,” state police spokesman Trooper David McGarvey said this week.

The 39-year-old Starr was suspended with pay in late February, and on May 12 his status changed to suspended without pay. Starr was released from jail on Wednesday after waiving his preliminary hearing before Magisterial District Judge Craig Ormsby.

Bail was originally set for Starr at $250,000 cash, but the state Attorney General’s Office, which is prosecuting the case, wrote Ormsby a letter May 12 to inform the court it would agree to unsecured bail for the Altoona police officer in exchange for Starr waiving his preliminary hearing on the charges.

Starr is charged with felony counts of dealing in the proceeds of unlawful activities, deceptive or fraudulent business practices, tampering with public records and theft.

State police said Starr was $463,000 in debt and over the past three years had lost about $50,000 gambling at Rocky Gap Casino in Flintstone, Md.

Using the casino’s player’s club card and city records, state police contend Starr at times was gambling 70 miles away while he reported he had been working, often collecting overtime.

Starr is accused of a web of schemes, including pocketing donations to the department, diverting grant money into his own pocket and using a local business and charitable organization in an attempt to launder a $2,000 donation he wanted for himself.

Starr, who was the department’s arson investigator, used his position to solicit the money he then stole or tried to steal by saying the money was for equipment he needed to investigate fires.

With Starr’s suspension, those duties have been assigned to another officer, Altoona police Lt. Benjamin Jones said Friday.

Jones said Cpl. Nathan Snyder will be handling arson investigations and focusing first on the more pressing cases, including the investigation into a fire at 1814 11th Ave. in January 2015 that killed a 31-year-old mother and two children, a 9-year-old girl and a 20-month-old girl.

Mirror Staff Writer Greg Bock is at 946-7458.