Police: Vandergrift man caught stealing wallet from judge's office to pay fines
A Vandergrift man stole a wallet at the district judge's office in Allegheny Township and then paid his court fines with the cash inside, according to police.
Allegheny Township Patrolman Kerry Myers was dispatched to the office of District Judge Cheryl Peck Yakopec on Thursday in response to a report that a man, later identified as Steven Rago, 31, of 116 Custer Ave., had taken a wallet belonging to another person left near the payment window.
Myers wrote in Rago's arrest papers that security cameras show the wallet was left at the counter by its owner and then taken by Rago, who the officer knew.
According to Myers, the video clearly shows Rago “sliding the wallet with his left hand over to him. Rago then puts the wallet in his front pocket of his sweatshirt, while looking around. Rago then enters the public bathroom several times, pays on a fine with cash, and then exits the magistrate's office.”
Allegheny Township Police Chief John Fontaine said Rago's actions were particularly blatant.
“It was pretty brazen that this happened the way it did,” the chief said. “Magistrates' offices are all on camera. It was pretty brazen of him to try to get away with it.”
Myers called Rago, who police say admitted to having the wallet and promised to return it to the magistrate's office.
However, when Rago returned the wallet, $100 was still missing. Rago said he would return to his apartment to get the rest of the cash and did so, according to Fontaine.
“He paid it all back, and they were able to recover the ID cards,” the chief said.
Fontaine said that Rago was free on a $2,500 monetary bond for two previous charges of simple assault.
Yakopec rescinded his bail as a result of the theft charge. Rago was transported to Westmoreland County Prison ahead of a preliminary hearing before Yakopec on the simple assault charges, scheduled for Tuesday.
A preliminary hearing for the misdemeanor theft charge for stealing the wallet is scheduled for Nov. 7, also before Yakopec.