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Safe's owner testifies money was missing before theft

July 27, 2000

Safe's owner testifies money was missing before theft



DON AINES / Staff Writer, Chambersburg


CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - The owner of a safe from which $1.57 million in cash and valuables was stolen noticed some of his daughter's money missing from the safe before it was reported stolen in March, according to preliminary hearing testimony Thursday.

District Justice Larry Meminger ordered that charges of burglary, theft, criminal trespass and receiving stolen property against Jeremiah Chambers, 21, of 44 N. Main St., Mercersburg, Pa., be bound over for Franklin County Court. Chambers is scheduled for arraignment on Wednesday, Sept. 6.

Pennsylvania State Police charged Chambers with taking $28,000 from the safe of Frank Lininger of Mercersburg sometime before the safe itself was stolen on March 27.

Sally Long of Waynesboro, Pa., testified her father, Frank Lininger, told her there was $208,000, mostly in $100 bills, in the York safe in his funeral home office at 42 N. Main St. She said $37,000 of it was hers.

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"Our lives were in that safe," Long said. Its contents included heirloom jewelry, stocks, collectible coins and other valuables, she said.

After the safe was stolen, Long said her father told her "you must have taken a lot of your money out of the safe," because he noticed much of it missing before the safe was taken. Long said she had not removed any money from the safe since about 1998.

Chambers' attorney David S. Keller objected that Long's testimony of what her father said was hearsay. Assistant District Attorney T.R. Williams said Lininger would be available to testify at trial and Meminger allowed Long's testimony.

Bruce Albright, 19, of Martinsburg, one of those charged with stealing the safe, testified he saw Chambers with a large amount of cash "probably before Christmas" last year.

"His wallet was like, bulging," said Albright, a cousin of Chambers. "We planned to take it at one time," but never did, Albright testified of the safe.

Albright testified Chambers told him the safe was unlocked when the money was stolen.

On cross-examination by Keller, however, Albright was unsure of some details, admitted to being on medication for "my nerves" and said he had admitted himself to a psychiatric facility in Florida earlier this year.

Kristopher Currier, 20, of Martinsburg, testified he was there when the safe was stolen and when it was opened in Martinsburg. He said he knew Chambers lived in the same building from which the safe was stolen.

"I counted it...There was 170-some thousand dollars," he testified.

Albright and Currier both waived their preliminary hearings Thursday as did two other defendants, Eric Currier, 24, and John Bigiarelli, 21, both of Martinsburg. Charles Decker, 19, of Martinsburg, also charged in the case, had previously waived his preliminary hearing.

A seventh man, Mark A. Ortega, 22, of Shepherdstown, W.Va., is facing charges in West Virginia for allegedly being paid to open the safe, according to Berkeley County court records.

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