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Antique store owner charged with theft

November 20, 1996

By LAURA ERNDE

Staff Writer

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - The owner of a Fayetteville, Pa., antique store has been charged with stealing nearly $200,000 from 31 dealers who rented space from him, officials said.

Jeffrey Lewis Brener, 47, of 659 Cumberland Ave., Chambersburg, allegedly sold the dealers' merchandise a year ago and never paid them, according to charges filed with District Justice Larry K. Meminger.

The thefts occurred between July 1 and Dec. 22, 1995, according to court records.

Just before Christmas last year, Brener closed his store, Famous Antiques at 1495 Lincoln Way East, said dealer Chris Marotte of Chambersburg.

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Brener never paid Marotte for $403.10 worth of railroad antiques sold at Famous Antiques between Dec. 14 and Dec. 17, court records said.

"When you're raising a little one that's only 18 months old, $400 is a lot," he said.

Brener also owes Marotte's father, Maurice Marotte Jr., $2,300, court records said.

Two of the dealers lost about $31,000 each, court records said.

The smallest individual loss was $58.06.

In addition to the money - a total of $196,944.77 - dealers lost a place to sell their antiques, said Marotte, who rented space at Famous Antiques for $100 a month.

Marotte lost some customers when he moved to Antique Crossroads in Hagerstown, he said.

Marotte and the 30 other dealers told their story to Pennsylvania State Police.

Police filed against Brener 31 counts of theft by unlawful taking, 31 counts of theft by failure to make required disposition of funds received and 12 counts of writing bad checks, court records said.

Police believe there may be more victims and are asking people who believe they were bilked by Brener to call 1-717-264-5161.

Brener could not be reached for comment Tuesday.

A preliminary hearing on the charges is set for 9:30 a.m. on Dec. 30 before District Justice Meminger.

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