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Alleged purse thief chased by New Kensington woman to take plea deal

Chuck Biedka
| Friday, Oct. 6, 2017, 1:36 p.m.
Luis Lema
Westmoreland County Prison
Luis Lema

An alleged purse thief is accepting a plea bargain to allow him to serve a sentence of about one to two years in the Westmoreland County Prison instead of state prison.

Luis Lema, 27, is accused of stealing a purse from an Arnold woman who chased him in New Kensington until he was detained by several men.

Police say he is from Ecuador and might be in the country illegally.

Lema on Thursday waived charges to court. That will allow him take the plea bargain publicly discussed at the district judge's office in New Kensington.

According to court records, Lema is scheduled to formally enter a guilty plea Dec. 19 in county court.

If he is prosecuted on burglary and theft charges, he could receive a sentence that would send him to state prison for at least two years.

The victim told police she was sitting on the couch inside her Fifth Avenue apartment about 2 p.m. Sept. 21 when the door to her apartment slowly opened.

She said she saw a man take her purse from the kitchen table and start to leave.

That's when she and neighbors pursued the man to Industrial Boulevard a short distance away.

Lema, who is homeless, was charged with burglary and theft. He was still being held in the Westmoreland County Prison on Friday in lieu of $100,000 bond.

Chuck Biedka is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 724-226-4711.

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