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Court briefs 2/22

February 22, 2001

Court briefs 2/22



Man who rode stolen ATV is sentenced


CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - A Pennsylvania man will spend time in jail for riding around with a friend on a stolen all-terrain vehicle.

David J. Bitner, 19, of 17148 Junkin Road, Spring Run, was sentenced in Franklin County Court to from two to 23 months after pleading guilty to a charge of receiving stolen property.

The owner of the ATV, William Swailes, "used to ride the ATV to round up his cows. Now he has to walk," Franklin County Court of Common Pleas Judge John Walker said Wednesday.

Walker said he would have sentenced Bitner to three months, but lowered it because Bitner said he had saved $100 to start making restitution.

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"That won't get Mr. Swailes a new ATV, but it shows you're thinking," Walker said.

Bitner said he only rode the ATV a couple of times and that he didn't steal it.

The co-defendant, Thomas Eugene Hartmire Jr., had been sentenced to 13 months probation, said Assistant District Attorney John Lisko.

According to the affidavit of probable cause, the ATV was stolen from a trailer at Swailes' Willow Hill, Pa., farm between March 3 and 8, 2000. The damaged ATV was found May 14 in woods, according to records.

In the affidavit, Hartmire alleged Bitner took the ATV and hid it in the woods behind the Path Valley Speedway. Bitner alleged to police that Hartmire promised to give him a 1964 Nova if he stole the ATV.

Bitner was ordered to pay $1,255.35 in restitution to Swailes.

Pa. man to serve at least 21 months


CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - A Mercersburg, Pa., man was sentenced to serve 21 months to 10 years in state prison for two thefts he committed last summer to help support his cocaine habit.

Franklin County Court of Common Pleas Judge John Walker sentenced Donald L. Deshong on charges of unauthorized use of a car, driving with a suspended license, burglary and theft.

Deshong committed the crimes while on parole from the State Correctional Institution for two 1997 burglaries.

"You couldn't have been out of the state pen for too long before you ripped someone off," Walker said Wednesday. "I guess I didn't give you enough time in 1997. I didn't get your attention."

Deshong said he resorted to drinking to solve his problems when he got out of jail.

"Instead of taking to a counselor I went back to drinking. That led me to cocaine," he said.

According to court records, Deshong said he broke into Jeff Stoner's Mercersburg garage Aug. 18 and stole about $10,000 worth of items, including a welder, a keg of beer and tools.

He also broke into Mercersburg Builders Supply Co. on Aug. 17 and unsuccessfully attempted to open a safe, according to records. He stole a chain saw and wrench set.

The stolen items and damage to the building totaled more than $2,400, according to the affidavit of probable cause.

"I sold the tools for $100. I was in a hurry to smoke more cocaine," he told Walker.

Walker sentenced him to serve from 12 to 60 months for burglary, 3 to 24 months for unauthorized use, 6 to 36 months for theft and a $200 fine for driving with a suspended license.

He also ordered various fines and restitution to Stoner and Mercersburg Builders Supply Co.

"You're addicted to crack. That explains your crimes, but doesn't excuse it," Walker said. "If you come back again, the guidelines go way up."

Two plead guilty to drug violations


MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - Two men pleaded guilty Tuesday to drug violations.

Gary Andrew Davis, 29, of Bronx, N.Y. and Donald Leon Preacher, 47, of Kearneysville, W. Va, entered the pleas in the United States District Court for the Northern District of West Virginia in Martinsburg, W.Va., Tuesday before Judge W. Craig Broadwater, according to a news release from the office of U.S. Attorney Melvin W. Kahle Jr.

Davis entered a plea of guilty to one count of an indictment charging him with possession with intent to distribute 14 pounds of marijuana on May 4, 2000, in Berkeley County, W.Va. the news release said.

Davis is free on bond pending sentencing, which is set for May 14. He faces a maximum of five years in prison and a fine of $250,000.

The case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Thomas O. Mucklow and was investigated by Berkeley County Sheriff's Department offices and Federal Bureau of Investigation agents.

Preacher entered a plea of guilty to one count of aiding and abetting in the distribution of .51 grams of crack cocaine within 1,000 feet of the North Jefferson Elementary School on Nov. 10, 1999 in Berkeley County.

Preacher is free on bond pending sentencing set for May 21. He faces a maximum of 40 years in prison and a fine of $2 million.

The case was prosecuted by Mucklow and was investigated by agents of the Eastern Panhandle Drug and Violent Crimes Task Force.

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