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Two reach plea agreements in Brownsville wire theft case

| Monday, July 14, 2014, 11:01 p.m.

Two of four people charged in connection with the theft of overhead power lines in Fayette County have tentative plea bargains calling for jail sentences of 9 to 23 months, according to their attorneys.

Samuel David Harden, 41, and Michael Clifford McGraw Jr., 30, both of Hiller, waived their rights to preliminary hearings on charges of theft, receiving stolen property and criminal mischief on Monday before Senior District Judge Brenda Cavalcante in Redstone Township.

Defense attorneys Dianne Zerega and Susan Ritz Harper said the men were offered plea bargains calling for the jail sentences. Assistant District Attorney Anthony Iannamorelli declined to comment.

Prosecutors withdrew charges of corrupt organizations and dealing in proceeds of unlawful activities against both men, Cavalcante said.

Two others charged in the case, Jesse Lee Breakiron, 22, of Merrittstown and Melanie Dawn Crowe, 35, of Vestaburg, are awaiting preliminary hearings. They are charged with corrupt organizations, dealing in proceeds of unlawful activities, receiving stolen property and criminal conspiracy.

Breakiron faces an additional charge of theft.

The men cut 4,485 feet of copper wire strung along eight utility poles in the area of Century Road in Brownsville between May 2 and May 29, police said in criminal complaints.

They took the wire, valued at $5,606, to Metalico Brownsville, where they sold it, police said.

Metalico paid between $3,193 and $3,381 for a total of 1,281 pounds of wire, according to the complaints.

Police said Crowe used a 2005 Chevrolet Cavalier to drive the men on various occasions. She would return to pick them up, and they would take the wire to Metalico, according to police.

Crowe was paid with cash, cigarettes and gasoline, police said.

An investigator for West Penn/FirstEnergy, Richard Baric, discovered the stolen wire at Metalico by comparing a sample from one of the poles with wire that the yard had accepted from the suspects, police said.

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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