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Crime Briefs: Three convicted of bilking elderly out of $5 million

| Saturday, May 25, 2002, 12:00 p.m.

Three western Pennsylvania men who bilked 81 elderly people out of $5 million by selling risky securities they touted as safe investments were convicted of fraud Friday by a federal jury.

The jury of seven men and five women deliberated nine hours before convicting the three men on mail fraud charges. Found guilty were Robert Charles Walters, 55, of Jeanette; Edmond Harold Genest, 66, of Lower Burrell; and Dennis James Oslosky, 41, of Delmont.

Each investor lost between $5,000 and $500,000, according to court documents.

Another salesman, John Wayne Hinton, 53, pastor of Stony Creek Church of Christ, traded on his reputation as a cleric to sell the investments. He pleaded guilty in March and awaits sentencing.

Compu-Tech was owned by Dennis Cerilli, 54, a former Hempfield Township businessman, and Frank Anthony DeBone, 53, of Greensburg. The men have pleaded guilty and are awaiting sentencing.

Senior U.S. District Judge Donald J. Lee will sentence Walters on Sept. 12, Genest on Sept. 5 and Oslosky on Sept. 19.

Walters, Genest and Oslosky face up to five years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

Drug charges net prison term

A Hazelwood man found with crack and powder cocaine in his car during a traffic stop in July was sentenced in federal court to nine years in prison and four years of supervised release on drug charges.

Clay Moorefield, 25, of Roselle Court, was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Gary L. Lancaster on Thursday. Moorefield pleaded guilty in February to possessing and distributing crack cocaine.

Moorefield was arrested July 9 by Edgewood police after they discovered about 390 grams of powder cocaine and 13 grams of crack cocaine in his car.

Agents and detectives with the Pennsylvania State Attorney General's Office and the Pittsburgh Police Weed and Seed Task Force assisted in the investigation of Moorefield.

Travel agent faces charges

The owner of a travel agency that offered country music-themed bus tours was charged Thursday with bilking 205 customers out of more than $75,000 for bogus trips.

John Butka, the owner of Canonsburg-based Friendly Folks Tour and Travel Inc., was jailed Thursday after turning himself in to face charges of fraud and theft.

Police said Butka accepted payment for trips to South Carolina, New York City, Las Vegas and other destinations, then canceled the tours and failed to refund the money to his customers.

Butka said he was unable to pay his customers back for the October and November bus trips because of the damage the Sept. 11 attacks did to the travel industry.

He was being held in the Washington County jail on $50,000 bond.

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