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McKeesport store owner sentenced

| Tuesday, Aug. 20, 2013, 12:56 a.m.

The owner of two area convenience stores was sentenced on Monday for his actions after an automobile crash at his McKeesport outlet.

Pittsburgh U.S. District Judge Terrence F. McVerry sentenced Danny A. Patel, 45, to three years of probation and eight months of detention at his North Huntingdon Township home.

McVerry ordered Patel to pay a $10,000 fine and $14,639.86 in restitution for false claims made with Harleysville Insurance after a Dec. 25, 2011, accident at Patel's BP Food Mart at 231 Fifth Ave.

“Mr. Patel is a person who made one mistake and is now ready to pay the restitution readily and remorsefully,” his attorney, Charles R. LoPresti, argued in a bid to prevent jail time for his client. He described Patel as “ a family man who runs two businesses (and) supports a wife, father and two college children.”

LoPresti submitted 11 letters of support from family members, friends, business colleagues and two officials in Homestead where Patel runs the Valero convenience store.

“In situations where arrests have been made, most notably an armed robbery, he and/or his staff have been most helpful as witnesses,” Mayor Betty Esper and police Chief Jeffrey DeSimone wrote. “Mr. Patel is most gracious in his philanthropic support of the Homestead Borough Police Department, making food donations for borough events (and) sponsoring and covering the monthly cost of our K-9's dog food.”

On April 17, 2012, a federal grand jury indicted Patel on three counts of mail fraud, two of witness tampering and one of making false statements to the government.

On April 19, 2013, Patel pleaded guilty before Chief U.S. District Judge Gary L. Lancaster to one count each of mail fraud, making false statements to the FBI and witness tampering.

It was one of the last cases heard by Lancaster, who died suddenly on April 24.

Patrick Cloonan is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-664-9161, ext. 1967, or pcloonan@tribweb.com.

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