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Ex-White Oak animal shelter official to stand trial for theft

| Thursday, Feb. 6, 2014, 4:51 a.m.

The case of alleged theft by a former White Oak Animal Safe Haven executive is moving on to trial in Allegheny County Common Pleas Court.

Formal arraignment was Wednesday for Frank Sabolcik, 33, of Elizabeth Township, who is charged with felony counts of theft by unlawful taking, theft by deception and receiving stolen property.

Sabolcik was arrested by county police on Aug. 8 and accused of stealing $73,000 from the no-kill animal shelter along Lincoln Way, across from the borough building.

He started as a volunteer, and became shelter manager and vice president.

A 15-page county police affidavit alleges that he misused a debit card and mishandled proceeds from a car raffle and a recycling program.

Sabolcik was bound over for trial by Magisterial District Judge Beth S. Mills and ordered to face formal arraignment.

The arraignment was continued three times, from Nov. 1, Nov. 25 and Jan. 9.

Sabolcik's attorney said the continuances were requested by the district attorney's office.

“I have no idea (why),” Ryan Tutera said at the Jan. 9 continuance. “I don't care to speculate.”

District Attorney Stephen A. Zappala Jr.'s spokesman Mike Manko said he was not aware of any changes to the case.

“And I do not believe they are pursuing anyone else at this time,” Manko said in an email last month.

In an email on Wednesday, Manko said there was nothing unusual about the continuances.

Tutera repeatedly has insisted that his client is innocent.

“I believe in the justice system,” Tutera said last month. “It does take time, and in the end justice will be served.”

According to court records, a pre-trial conference is scheduled for March 28 at 9 a.m. before Common Pleas Judge Kevin G. Sasinoski.

Sabolcik remains free on $5,000 bond.

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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