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W.Va. man pleads guilty in Pa. safe case

September 07, 2000

W.Va. man pleads guilty in Pa. safe case



By DON AINES / Staff Writer, Chambersburg


CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - A West Virginia man charged in the March theft of a safe containing $1.57 million in cash and other valuables pleaded guilty Wednesday to receiving stolen property, according to Franklin County Court of Common Pleas records.

John Anthony Bigiarelli, 21, of 1568 Rock Cliff Drive, Martinsburg, W.Va., pleaded guilty to the third-degree felony during his formal arraignment. He faces up to seven years in prison and a $15,000 fine when he is sentenced on Wednesday, Oct. 18

In exchange for the plea agreement, third-degree felony charges of theft and criminal conspiracy will be dismissed, according to the District Attorney's Office.

According to the Pennsylvania State Police affidavit of probable cause, Bigiarelli used his vehicle to drive the 700-pound safe from the Mercersburg, Pa., area to his home in Martinsburg, where the safe was opened and emptied. He was paid $10,000 for the job, police said.

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The safe had been stolen earlier that day from the Lininger Funeral Home office at 42 N. Main St., Mercersburg, according to police. The safe contained $208,000 in cash, heirloom jewelry, collectible coins, stocks and other valuables belonging to Frank Lininger and members of his family, according to court records.

Pennsylvania State Police have charged five other men in connection with the theft and another faces charges in West Virginia, court records said.

The other defendants charged in Pennsylvania are Jeremiah Chambers, 21, of 44 N. Main St., Mercersburg; Kristopher Currier, 20, Eric Currier, 24, Bruce Alright, 19, and Charles Decker, all of Martinsburg. Mark A. Oretga, 22, of Shepherdstown, W.Va., was charged by West Virginia State Police with helping to open the safe.

State police allege Chambers stole $28,000 from the safe, which was in the same building as his apartment. When the other men learned where he had gotten the cash they allegedly stole the safe and its remaining contents, according to court records.

The Currier brothers, Chambers and Decker all pleaded innocent Wednesday and their cases were scheduled for the November trial term, according to the District Attorney's Office. Albright's formal arraignment is scheduled for Wednesday, Sept. 13.

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