2 headed to court on Fayette chop shop allegations

| Friday, April 13, 2012

Two of three men accused of running a chop shop in Bullskin were ordered to stand trial in Fayette County following a preliminary hearing Wednesday before District Judge Ronald Haggerty Jr. Charges against a third man were dismissed.

Charges of owning, operating and conducting a chop shop were held for court against Rodney Francis Allen, 61, of 336 Breakneck Road, Bullskin and Dale Robert Naugle, 27, of 145 Bellview Road, Bullskin. The same charges filed against Joshua Allen DeWitt, 26, of 324 Ogden St., Connellsville, were dismissed yesterday.

The charges stem from an investigation by a state police auto theft task force after a 2005 Ford F-150 truck was stolen between March 1 and 3, 2011, from the rear lot of Davies Ford, Route 119, Bullskin.

Investigators received word from a confidential informant that a stolen vehicle was located at Rick Allen's Garage.

Police executed a search warrant at a garage owned by Allen at 169 Bellview Road, Bullskin, where they located the stolen truck that had been stripped of parts.

The parts were later recovered on the property of Allen's Garage/B&R Recycling at 145 Bellview Road and were being used to repair a 2008 Ford F-150, police said.

Allen provided to police an invoice indicating he purchased the Ford from Salvage Direct, a vehicle auction business. He said he purchased the parts about three days earlier from another business and had receipts for them.

According to an affidavit of probable cause, Allen told police he recalled purchasing the parts from "an unknown tall guy with no teeth" and that he "kind of had an idea they were stolen," but Allen never produced the receipts to police.

Investigators viewed the video surveillance system in the scale house and office of Allen's Garage/B&R Recycling that showed a white tilt bed being used to transport the stolen truck on the evening of March 3, 2011, by three individuals that police said may have been Allen and Naugle.

Naugle was interviewed by investigators and admitted that he took the Ford truck from Davies Ford at the direction of Allen, who is Naugle's boss. He said he used Allen's flat-bed truck to off-load the truck at the garage at 169 Bellview Road. Naugle admitted that he and Allen dismantled the stolen truck while Allen's nephew, DeWitt, was present.

Naugle said he used another truck belonging to Allen to haul the truck parts to the other garage.

David Kaiser, the attorney for the three men, asked Haggerty to dismiss the charges against all three men because the state failed to prove that Dewitt conspired to steal the vehicle, that police weren't 100 percent sure if Naugle was one of the three men in the surveillance video and that Allen couldn't have run a chop shop out of the business because it was owned by his wife, Linda Allen.

"How could he be convicted of running a chop shop if he's not the owner?" Kaiser said.

Fayette County Assistant District Attorney Mark Mehalov said Naugle told police he took the truck away from Davies Ford on the flat bed, dismantled the truck and moved the parts to Allen's Garage.

Mehalov said Rodney Allen had the parts in his possession that had VIN numbers matching the stolen vehicle. Mehalov said Rodney Allen couldn't prove where he obtained the parts.

"He possessed the stolen parts and he doesn't have paper records," Mehalov said.

Naugle and Rodney Allen are free on $10,000 unsecured bond.

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