Five individuals have been arrested for allegedly stealing more than $94,000 from a Falls Twp. business last fall.
Tunkhannock Twp. patrolman Mark Papi filed charges against James Robert Walsh, 18; Haley Ash, 18; Courtney Shoemaker, 19; and Michael James Deschak, 20; all of Tunkhannock, and Brandon Ropraz, 18, listed as homeless, for allegedly removing materials from a storage building off Buttermilk Road owned by Geary Enterprises.
The four Tunkhannock residents claim that the homeless man had alleged the property was his grandfather’s garage that he was cleaning out, and they were just helping.
However, a neighbor of the business told police he spotted a red pick-up truck making trips to the property, owned by William Geary, and managed to write down its license plate number.
Suspects allegedly transported materials, totaling an estimated $94,329, to one or more scrapyards.
After Geary initially filed a report with township police on Nov. 30, Tpr. William Mackiw responded to the location to investigate a burglary and theft on Dec. 1.
State police located a vehicle matching the description of the truck spotted on Geary’s property at Weitsman’s Scrapyard in Scranton.
Walsh, Ash, Shoemaker and Deschak were told by the Scranton Police Department to report to the state police barracks in Tunkhannock, which they did a short time later.
In written statements to police, the four suspects said that Ropraz had taken them to the property in November, suggesting he had permission to remove scrap.
All four Tunkhannock residents were charged by state police with one felony count of burglary and two misdemeanor counts of theft by unlawful taking and receiving stolen property.
They have appeared before Magisterial District Judge Carl Smith and their charges were bound over to county court where Deschak was arraigned Feb. 7, and Ash, Shoemaker and Walsh will be arraigned March 7.
On the charges for Tunkhannock Twp. police, each of the five individuals, including Ropraz, have been charged with two felony counts - one for burglary and another for theft by unlawful taking.
Ropraz waived his rights for a preliminary hearing in that matter and will be arraigned in Wyoming County Court on March 7.
Ash, Deschak and Shoemaker have preliminary hearings before Judge Smith today, and Walsh has one on Feb. 26.
They have all been in the county jail since mid-December when they were unable to post bail, which was set between $10,000 and $25,000 for each.
Ropraz faces additional criminal charges of false identification to officers on Nov. 17 and theft by unlawful taking, receiving stolen property and unauthorized use of a motor vehicle on Nov. 15 for incidents that occurred in Eaton Twp.