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Work crew charged with theft while remodeling Charleroi home

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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 cbuckley@tribweb.com.

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