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State advised McKown not to work for York Pathology

The State Ethics Commission told York County Coroner Doug McKown in 1998 that he should not be working for York Pathology Associates, the same business that receives thousands of dollars every year to perform autopsies for his office, according to a letter obtained by The Herald.

Deputy Coroner David Chambers said last week that for years the business had paid both he and McKown $600 a month to help off-the-clock with autopsies unrelated to the coroner’s office. Chambers said McKown told him the commission had sent a letter approving the arrangement.

But in a letter dated June 10, 1998, the Ethics Commission told McKown he should avoid working with the group, even on autopsies unrelated to his official position.

"The coroner ... should avoid entering into contractual arrangements for non-County autopsies even though performed outside the scope of employment with the County Coroner's office," the letter states.

But McKown said he does not believe he violated the ethical standards spelled out in the letter because York Pathology has no contract with the county.

"I did what I thought was right," he said.

Herbert Hayden Jr., executive director of the Ethics Commission, called the arrangement an “inherent conflict of interest” and said McKown should either stop working for the company or use another business for county autopsies.

“That’s just a built-in conflict that’s going to exist forever,” Hayden said.