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Man gets prison term for stealing lawn tractor

February 05, 2004|by DON AINES

chambersburg@herald-mail.com

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - A West Virginia man who led Pennsylvania State Police on a chase while pulling a stolen lawn tractor last summer was sentenced to up to 11 years in state prison on that charge and several others related to lawn machinery thefts.

Darren Duane Urzich, 39, of 88 Mount Olive Road, Martinsburg, will spend a minimum of 20 months in state prison. He was arrested at July 7, 2003, after stealing a trailer and lawn tractor from Tractor Supply Co., 1695 Lincoln Way East, according to court records.

Urzich, accompanied by his wife and son, was seen by the store manager driving away from the business at 6:40 a.m. with a tractor that had been on outdoor display. Police cruisers followed the pickup on U.S. 30 and south on Interstate 81 and tried to bracket the vehicle, according to the affidavit of probable cause.

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Urzich ran into the side of a cruiser driven by Trooper Stanford Sydnor and then ran off the highway, down an embankment and onto Angle Road, the affidavit alleges.

Sydnor said at the time that the truck was found disabled in the Marion, Pa., area, but he later spoke with a resident who said she drove a family to West Virginia after they told her their truck had broken down. Sydnor later found the three at the produce stand where the woman had dropped them off.

Urzich was charged with aggravated assault against a police officer in that incident, along with the theft of the lawn tractor. On the day he was arrested, he also admitted to stealing a go-kart from the same store the day before and to having stolen two other lawn tractors from there earlier in the year, court records state.

Police later charged Urzich with attempting to steal a lawn tractor from Wal-Mart, 1730 Lincoln Way East, on May 15, 2003. Police said store employees interrupted that attempt and the tractor rolled off the bed of the pickup as Urzich fled.

Urzich pleaded guilty Dec. 18 to aggravated assault against a police officer, theft, attempted theft and retail theft, according to court records.

Assistant District Attorney Bret Palmer told Van Horn that Urzich had committed similar crimes in Maryland and West Virginia and asked the judge to impose a longer maximum sentence of 16 years.

Assistant Franklin County Public Defender Paul Rockwell told Judge Carol Van Horn on Wednesday no one was injured in the chase and the crimes were committed because "his family was under extreme circumstances" financially.

"A lot of people have those problems, but don't resort to what you have done," Van Horn told Urzich.

Van Horn fined Urzich $1,050 and gave him 110 days credit for time already served.

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