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Scrap investigation leads to Lower Burrell synthetic marijuana arrest

| Monday, Feb. 10, 2014, 12:39 p.m.
Eric Felack | Valley News Dispatch
Muhannad Suleima Shuman

Lower Burrell street department workers alerted police early Monday morning when they saw a pickup matching the description of one involved in scrap metal thefts in Allegheny Township.

The city employees saw a blue Dodge Ram parked at Sheetz on Craigdell Road around 1:45 a.m. It matched the description, including damage, of one seen on surveillance camera images outside Comfab, a fabricating company on Melwood Road, on Feb. 1.

A surveillance camera photo of the truck appeared in Wednesday's Valley News Dispatch.

Lower Burrell police arrested the driver, Muhannad Suleima Shuman, 39, of Monroeville on drug charges. He was not charged in connection with the scrap thefts, but Allegheny Township police plan on questioning him about that.

“He's definitely a suspect,” Allegheny Township police Chief John Fontaine said. “His vehicle fits the description of the surveillance photos.”

The pickup Shuman was driving had damage to the windshield and roof, matching surveillance photos taken at Comfab.

Fontaine said the pickup and two men were seen twice at Comfab the night of Feb. 1, first at 7 p.m. and again at 10:53 p.m. According to court documents, when Lower Burrell police asked Shuman what he knew about the Feb. 1 scrap metal theft, he said he had loaned his truck to a man named “Jose” from Tarentum for about a week around the date of the theft. Shuman claimed “Jose” told him that he and a cousin named “Louis” were stealing and selling scrap.

After talking with Shuman, Lower Burrell police said they saw a plastic bag containing colored packages of synthetic marijuana in plain view on the floor of Shuman's pickup. In court documents, police say Shuman admitted that's what it was.

Police said they found a total of 105 grams of suspected “K2” synthetic marijuana, three cell phones and $531 in cash.

Shuman had been arrested about a year ago in connection with sales of synthetic marijuana at the Arnold Stop-N-Go convenience store. Police had raided the store in October 2012.

In June, Shuman was sentenced to one-year probation after making a negotiated guilty plea to felony charges of manufacturing, delivering or possessing a controlled substance with intent to manufacture or deliver. In September, he was sentenced to six months probation after pleading guilty to a misdemeanor charge of possession of a controlled substance.

Lower Burrell police charged Shuman with manufacturing, delivering or possessing with intent to deliver a controlled substance, possession of a controlled substance, and criminal use of a communications facility in his latest arrest.

He was arraigned by Judge Cheryl Peck-Yakopec and placed in the Westmoreland County Jail on $5,000 bond. A preliminary hearing was scheduled for Feb. 18.

Brian C. Rittmeyer is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-226-4701 or brittmeyer@tribweb.com.

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