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Greensburg pawn shop aids in arrest of home repair scam suspect

Wednesday, July 23, 2014, 10:51 p.m.
 

A South Greensburg woman wanted by Westmoreland County detectives in a home repair scam was arrested on Tuesday afternoon at a Greensburg pawn shop.

County sheriff's deputies were tipped off that Katina D. Stewart, 41, planned to sell items in a pawn shop for cash, Sheriff Jon Held said on Wednesday.

Deputies contacted about 30 area pawn shop and precious metals dealers seeking help, Held said.

Assistance came about 3 p.m. Tuesday when employees at The Pawn and Jewelry Exchange on East Pittsburgh Street called deputies to report that Stewart was there.

“I appreciate them working with us,” Held said.

Stewart did not detail her plans for the cash to deputies, Held said.

She allegedly has not repaid about $5,000 to three Hempfield residents, according to criminal complaints filed by Detective Will Brown. Stewart operates Stewart & Co. Home Improvements of Greensburg, Brown said.

A Moore Lane couple reported that they made a down payment of $2,570 in May for the removal and replacement of four sliding glass doors at their home. A Farm Brook Drive woman made a $2,500 down payment in April for a new roof, according to the complaint. Work was never done in either instance.

Stewart has repaid the Farm Brook Drive resident $1,000, Brown said.

She was arraigned on Tuesday by District Judge Charges Moore on two counts of receiving an advance payment and failing to complete work. She is being held in the Westmoreland County Prison on $25,000 and $40,000 bails in the two cases, which are scheduled for preliminary hearings on Aug. 13.

It was unclear in online court records whether she is being represented by an attorney.

A preliminary hearing on Wednesday before District Judge Douglas Weimer on charges of access device fraud and theft charges in connection with another alleged home repair scam was rescheduled to Sept. 10.

An affidavit of probable cause states that a Clay Pike Road woman was checking on whether about $8,000 in home repairs would be covered under her insurance. In the meantime, she gave Stewart her credit card number to use only if the repairs would be covered.

The woman decided not to do the repairs and learned that her credit card had been used without her permission by Stewart & Co. Home Improvements to obtain $7,000 between May 19 and June 6.

Stewart had been free on $2,500 unsecured bail in that case.

Renatta Signorini is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-837-5374 or rsignorini@tribweb.com.

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