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Ofc. Fox's Murder: Has the Criminal Justice System Been Compromised by Society?

A look at Andrew C Thomas, Plymouth PD Officer Bradley Fox's alleged murderer, and why he should have been in jail at the time of Fox's death.

Editor's Note: Andrew Thomas died before any charges were brought against him for the death of Officer Bradley Fox. His death was ruled a suicide by the Montgomery County Coroner.

All information contained herein is the personal opinion of the writer. All rights reserved.

On Thursday, September 13th, 2012, K-9 Officer and Marine veteran Bradley Fox of the Plymouth Township Police Department was shot and killed in the line of duty. Fox was mercilessly killed by a multi-time convicted Felon named Andrew Charles Thomas, who was fleeing the scene of a hit-and-run accident in the Conshohocken section of Plymouth Township.

Andrew Thomas has a lengthy criminal history, dating back to the early 90's in Philadelphia and Montgomery Counties. Thomas was previously convicted of, among other things, Forgery and Public Assistance Act Violations, and served a sentence of six to twenty-three months in jail for these convictions.

On or about July 1st, 2005, according to court records, Thomas was arraigned before then MDJ John Kowal at District Court 38-1-25 on the counts of Forgery (F2), two counts Theft by Deception (M2), Receiving Stolen Property (M2), and Possessing an Instrument of Crime (M1) and released on $3,000 unsecured bail, despite previous felony convictions for similar charges in Philadelphia. On July 11th, 2005, Thomas was a no-show for a Preliminary Hearing. 

Due to Thomas failing to appear, the court requested a Bench Warrant to be issued (which is standard protocol), and the case was "held over for court" and forwarded to the Court of Common Pleas, Montgomery County.

According to court records, Thomas listed his address as 105 Grasmere Rd, Bala Cynwood PA. County property records indicate the property has been owned by Richard and Jeanette Thomas since 1969. It is probably a safe bet to assume that they are directly related to Andrew Thomas in some form or another.

From July 11th, 2005 thru May 21st 2012, Andrew C Thomas considered as a "Fugitive from Justice".

This brings to light a few different questions; where was Thomas at during this extended time frame? Was he on the run, maybe out of state in hiding? Was he hiding out at a friends, or perhaps a relatives house? Maybe hiding out on his own? Or, was he going about his normal routine, lucky to be simply looked over on the active warrant list? Perhaps since his crimes were considered "white collar" rather than violent, his case wasn't given the priority it should have been? Was their due diligence in finding Andrew Thomas and bringing him forthwith to answer for his crimes?

Then, miraculously on May 21st, 2012, Thomas was arrested and brought before the Common Pleas Court in Montgomery County to answer for charges that were nearly seven years old.

The result? Surely he was incarcerated or required to post monetary bond.

Nope.

Thomas was again release on unsecured $3,000 bail, despite spending nearly seven years on the run from police prosecution. He then decided, a day later, to plead guilty to Felony Theft by Deception and sentenced to two years probation and sentenced to pay fines and costs, all within an approximate 48 to 72 hour time frame.

Yes, you read that correctly. Two years probation, no jail time. I have personally witnessed traffic offenders be sentenced to harsher sentences than that (some rightfully so, though).

In the opinion of this writer, clearly, this 2005 incident was not a simple "lapse in judgment" (which could have warranted a probation-only sentence) given that Thomas was a previously convicted Felon who served prison time for nearly the same set of crimes in Philadelphia. And, that's not to mention that the most recent version of Pennsylvania's Sentence Guidelines (6th edition) calls for a recommended prison sentence of at least twelve months (this is based upon a "scoring" system that considers the current offense as well as previous convictions).

Could the absolute tragedy of Officer Fox being killed in the line of duty been avoided had Andrew Thomas been incarcerated rather than simply allowed to walk out the door of 2 E Airy Steet, free as a bird? The simplest answer to that question would be yes; Andrew Thomas would never have been involved in the hit-and-run accident that led to the fatal encounter with police on September 13th, 2012 because he would have been sitting in an 8'x10' cell somewhere, serving prison time.

The question at hand; has our Criminal Justice System failed us, or has our society itself caused it to fail? Have we become so financially burdened with criminal activity and the costs associated with enforcing and prosecuting that we have no choice but to be relaxed in our sentencing of offenders, thereby compromising the true purpose of our system? Does being a "repeat offender" really matter anymore? Or, is it some other form of influence or mitigating circumstances that is occurring?

We owe it to the honor true heroes such as Plymouth PD Officer Bradley Fox and the countless other men and women in blue who have given their life in the service to the citizens they protect, as well as their brother and sister officers who are still carrying the burden of patrolling society, to find an answer to these questions and to fix whatever problem(s) there may be. Never again should a police officer be murdered by a convicted felon who should have been behind bars instead of on the street, comitting more crimes.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

AvgCitizen September 18, 2012 at 02:05 PM
There is certainly a shared responsibility of our lawmakers, law enforcement and justice agencies. On one hand, we allow township law enforcement to manufacture crimes like controlled buys of small amounts of marijuana, using one kid who gets arrested with small amount of said 'drug', to set up another, ruining a life, or certainly making a chance of positively moving on from the mistake of acquiring $30 of pot under the guise of bringing down a major narcotic operation. That is abuse at the township local level. On the other hand, a law enforcement officer unfortunately have to treat a simple traffic violation as a life threatening situation, as too many times a life and family is destroyed by a gun toting criminal willing to use a weapon. Officer Danny Boyle, rest in peace, comes to mnd. As for the justice department and the lawmakers go, we have an epic fail on where our priorities should lay. I have yet to hear an opinion of Lisa Ferman, Joe Rooney or Alyson Schwarz clearly state their positions on the drug 'war', second amendment or judicial reform. It makes this citizen choices hard to decipher or interpret.
Mommy September 18, 2012 at 02:18 PM
Very good article. You would think that he should definately be put behind bars. He was the main suspect in the disappearance/assumed murder of his fiance back in 1999 (I think that's the year). You would think that suspecting that he was responsible for her disappearance (even though not charged), and his track record of the other crimes... that he would be considered dangerous and that he should receive the max jail time allowed for his crimes that he was convicted of. No one can now change what happened to Officer Fox or to his missing fiance... but learn from it... and don't let people like this get off on the easy route and end up doing "what everyone was waiting for him to do someday".
KeepemJailed September 18, 2012 at 10:52 PM
It all starts with the fact that there is no fear of repercussion anymore. As a child, I knew I would get a whoopin' for stealing, fighting, etc... I never grew up to be a mass murderer because of it. In today's society, all of these wackos that want to give criminals rights after they have violated the rights of others makes me sick. I feel for the cops in today's society because even if they do arrest someone, they find that person back on the street in similar fashion to the pos mentioned in the article. I say tax me $2 or $3 or $5 more and dedicate it to building and maintaining a prison system. All of this constant overcrowding should not be handled by allowing the criminals to walk the street only to cause harm to another again and again and again. How much does it cost when a life is taken early like our hero Ofc. Brad Fox was?! Until there is a court system that keeps criminals where they belong, the trend of innocent people and police dying will continue to plague society. There simply is no room for criminals to be comforted after the acts they willing choose to do.
OMG September 21, 2012 at 02:55 PM
This is a good article because it goes both ways. I definitely feel for Officer Fox and may he now rest in peace and I feel for any officer who loses his life because of some ignorant disrespectful individual but I have a hard time telling myself this shouldn't happen. Some of these officers violate their authority to the fullest extent of the law. Some of these officer's are as ignorant as the person committing the crime and draw their guns as uick as anything flying pass you. It's no need for any officer to have their guns drawn just because you hate a certain person. It's no reason for any officer to think he can hold their weapons to one's head and make statements that he and his fellow officer's near, but won't say he said, and think its ok. Just because a person has done a crime, served their time (all of their time) and come home, stay out of trouble for 2 years until oops here goes the officer that does not like me starting to pick again just because the person has not been in any trouble. People do change because for some it only takes one time to have to sit behind prison walls to learn that is not where I want to be. So it's hard for me to sit here and feel anyone who committed a crime needs to be in jail for the rest of their life. The prisons are overcrowded because they want to put you in there for the smell of marajuana, yes the smell. This whole system is messed up and really needs to be looked into from all angles.
Mimi v October 15, 2012 at 10:09 PM
I feel sick about officer fox's murder. I had seen Thomas riding a tall hybrid bicycle for several years now, in that I live on the sect bike path. He always looked suspicious, never made eye contact, and he stood out for appearing very fit, but never "dressed the part", wearing tight jeans, and carrying a plastic bag on the handle bar. He used to lock his bike outside of my house and down at the old rosborough pump house, and leave it there overnight. I saw him changing from muddy boots and clothing early one morni g, and placing the clothes neatly in the trunk of a luxury car. And, I think he tried to steal my car before I got an alarm, but it was too dark to closely see the guy running off on a bicycle after catching him breaking a window in the middle of the night. Now I wonder if he buried his girlfriend somewhere along the bike trail. I wish I could have done something. I feel horrible for officer fox and his family.
Joshua Z Stouch December 12, 2012 at 08:32 AM
Mimi V, you should probably contact your local police and provide them with this information, they may want to check the area.

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