Connellsville mayoral candidate Joshua DeWitt held for trial in chop shop case
A Connellsville mayoral candidate accused of operating a chop shop will face trial in Fayette County Court following a preliminary hearing on Thursday before District Judge Ronald Haggerty Jr.
Joshua DeWitt, 27, was held for trial on charges of owning / operating / conducting a chop shop, receiving stolen property and conspiracy. He was arraigned on those charges on March 6 before Haggerty.
DeWitt was originally charged on March 15, 2012 with his uncle, Rodney Francis Allen, and Dale Robert Naugle, by the Pennsylvania State Police Bureau of Criminal Investigation Western Regional Auto Theft Task Force.
DeWitt was only charged then with owning / operating / conducting a chop shop for an incident that occurred on March 3, 2011, in Bullskin Township. That charge was dropped during an April 2012 preliminary hearing.
Allen, 63, and Naugle, 29, are currently awaiting trial for the incident in the Fayette County Court of Common Pleas.
The task force opened an investigation on the three men after a 2005 Ford F-150 pickup truck was stolen between March 1 and 3, 2011, from the rear lot of Davies Ford.
During DeWitt's preliminary hearing on Thursday, Naugle testified he was contacted by Allen, to whom Naugle is employed, to pick up the Ford truck from the rear of Davies Ford around 2 or 3 a.m. March 3.
Naugle said he used a flatbed truck to transport the truck to a garage owned by Allen in Bullskin Township. Before he returned home, Naugle said he closed the door to the garage because he felt “funny” about it.
“Something seemed fishy about it to me,” Naugle said.
Naugle then said the vehicle was stripped of parts after business hours.
Tpr. Scott Monroe, with the auto theft task force, asked of DeWitt's role in the dismantling of the truck.
“Josh was standing there,” Naugle said. “He might have helped a little, but not a lot.”
DeWitt's attorney, David Kaiser, asked Naugle if DeWitt asked him to go to Davies Ford to get the truck or if DeWitt was there at Davies Ford when he removed the truck. Naugle answered “no.”
He also asked Naugle why he didn't call the police when he had a funny feeling about taking the truck.
Naugle responded that he didn't call the police because he didn't know the truck was stolen.
Tpr. Gregory Marchewka, with the auto theft task force, testified that during the course of his investigation, he spoke to Allen and DeWitt at the same time about when they received the parts that were from the stolen truck.
Marchewka said Allen asked for confirmation from DeWitt on when the parts were delivered and DeWitt confirmed it.
Kaiser asked Haggerty to dismiss the charges because the original affidavit only had him at the scene of the dismantling and that doesn't make him guilty, and Naugle said that DeWitt “might have helped a little,” but no specifics were testified of DeWitt's involvement.
Haggerty ruled that all the charges will be held for court.
“My client is disappointed,” Kaiser said, adding that it was believed there wasn't enough evidence for the charges to be held for court.
DeWitt is running a campaign against incumbent Connellsville Mayor Charles Matthews and candidate Gregory Lincoln on the Democratic ticket for the upcoming primary election on Tuesday.
A phone call to DeWitt for comment on how the charges will affect his campaign were not returned. His campaign manager, Charles Lowery, could not comment because he said he did not attend the hearing.
A formal arraignment has been scheduled at 9:30 a.m. June 20 in Courtroom 1 at the Fayette County Courthouse.
DeWitt is free on $20,000 unsecured bond.
Mark Hofmann is a staff writer with Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-626-3539 or email@example.com.
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.
- Jobs are focus in 52nd District House race in Westmoreland, Fayette
- Connellsville honors the late Ralph Wombacker
- Connellsville council expected to set budget meetings
- Lower Tyrone fall cleanup scheduled for Thursday
- Bedford woman’s works on display at Fayette law library
- Fall Foliage Ride/Walk scheduled for Sunday
- Poverty issues facing Fayette topic of conference
- Ambrosini won’t give up on new prison for Fayette County
- Refurbishing Uniontown church’s grotto is Eagle Scout project
- New consignment store specializes in dance, formal wear
- South Connellsville residents on edge