Work crew charged with theft while remodeling Charleroi home
By Chris Buckley
Published: Thursday, Nov. 29, 2012, 1:21 a.m.
A Monessen man claimed “finder's keepers” after he and three other workers found $60,000 in a Charleroi home they were remodeling this summer.
Charleroi Regional Police didn't agree.
As a result, Jason F. Latchem, 43, of 523 Parente Blvd., along with Robert W. Varner, 49, of 3 Latta Hollow Road, Roscoe; Bryan Dale Presock, 32, of 1215 McKean Ave., Charleroi; and Richard Luketich, 27, of 100 Binns Road, Fayette City, were each charged with theft by unlawful taking, receiving stolen property, and criminal conspiracy.
They are accused of keeping and spending the money they found in the 806 Meadow Ave. house.
According to an affidavit of probable cause, Donald Smaracheck, owner of Smaracheck Construction, told police on Aug. 23 that he was informed by his brother, Michael Smaracheck, that his crew — Latchem, Varner, Luketich and Presock — found the money while working in the attic. Donald Smaracheck purchased the property in February.
Donald Smaracheck told police Latchem acknowledged the crew found the money and split it four ways. According to the affidavit, Latchem said he spent his share on cocaine while one man purchased a quad (all-terrain vehicle) and another bought a truck.
The following day, Varner, Luketich and Latchem gave police written statements implicating themselves and each other, according to the affidavit.
Latchem told police he reported the money discovery to Donald Smaracheck, who said, “finder's keepers,” according to the affidavit. He told police Donald Smaracheck offered him “immunity” if he returned the money.
Luketich told police the men found a box containing $20, $50 and $100 bills totaling $60,000 on the second floor. They continued to work and after work went to Latchem's residence, where they split the money evenly, according to the affidavit.
Because Donald Smaracheck allegedly offered Latchem immunity, police decided to re-interview the suspects.
Luketich said Donald Smaracheck called him on Aug. 26 to meet. Luketich offered to give Smaracheck the Honda Quad he purchased for $7,100, according to the affidavit.
Luketich told police Varner threatened to shoot him and Luketich if they implicated him in taking the money.
Varner also was charged with terroristic threats and intimidation of witnesses. Police allege Varner contacted Luketich at home 5:24 p.m. Aug. 24 and told him that if he implicated Varner in the alleged June crime, it would be “his ass.”
Chris Buckley is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-684-2642 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Pirates trade for Mets 1B Davis
- Crews search for Latrobe woman in Linn Run State Park
- Pittsburgh-area students on the hunt for the perfect prom dress
- Hempfield native, 22, publishes with local independent press
- Pirates notebook: Players show support for Franklin Regional
- Man found fatally shot in Larimer a mile away from Homewood peace march
- Donald turns down New York invite for NFL Draft
- Sculpture at Phipps links art and sustainability
- Survivors in critical condition a day after fifth Armstrong County car crash victim dies
- City Theatre cancels ‘Grounded’ through April 20
- Chat with Dejan Kovacevic: April 18, 2014