Uniontown stainless steel theft suspect wants case dismissed

| Tuesday, April 29, 2014, 12:01 a.m.

A Fayette County man who is accused of taking $600,000 worth of stainless steel from his former employer wants the case thrown out because it has taken too long to go to trial.

State police said Robert Showman, 35, of Uniontown and three former employees of Hranec Sheet Metal Inc. in German stole $600,000 worth of new, coiled stainless steel between June 29, 2009, and May 9, 2011.

According to a criminal complaint, the men sold the steel to a scrap yard, Metalico Brownsville of Jefferson Township, formerly known as Assad Iron and Metal.

Showman entered guilty pleas in October in exchange for a sentence that called for house arrest.

At his sentencing hearing in December, Judge Nancy Vernon rejected the plea deal and ordered the case to trial after Showman's former boss objected.

Steve Hranec said the sentence was too lenient because Showman was a 12-year, trusted employee who earned more than $70,000 annually. Showman's duties as shop foreman included supervising the three other defendants, he said.

Showman was in the courthouse earlier this month during criminal court week, but his case did not go to trial. His attorney, David Kaiser of Uniontown, was defending a client in an unrelated case.

Kaiser has since filed a motion seeking to dismiss the charges under Rule 600, or the speedy trial rule. Kaiser contends that Showman's case should have gone to trial within 365 days. The time limit expired on March 13, Kaiser said in the motion.

District Attorney Jack Heneks said he is confident that the motion to dismiss will fail.

“We don't believe there is any merit to the Rule 600 petition,” Heneks said. “We fully expect to go to trial on the issue.”

In the criminal complaint, police said the men devised a scheme in which one of them ordered full coils of 24- and 26-gauge stainless steel from Hranec's Warminster-based supplier, Spectrum Metals. Once the coils were delivered, one of the men would wait until nightfall to load them onto a truck so they could be sold for scrap the next day, police said.

Hranec unraveled the scheme in 2011, when he realized the company was losing money, police said.

“I'm confident the judge will try this case, being it involved an overwhelming amount of $600,000 (in) stolen metal,” Hranec said on Monday. “... I'm sure the Fayette County court system will get this right.”

Timothy J. Devince, 28, of Uniontown and Timothy R. Smouse, 27, of Greensburg entered guilty pleas to theft and conspiracy. Each was ordered to pay restitution and was sentenced to 23 months of intermediate punishment and house arrest.

Kenney Keener, 31, of Ruffsdale was sentenced in January to one to two years in prison. He is to testify in any upcoming criminal and civil matters in the case, according to court records.

Showman is free on $10,000 unsecured bond.

Liz Zemba is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-601-2166 or lzemba@tribweb.com.

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