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Burglary ring linked to thefts of $463K

| Tuesday, March 11, 2003

The East Pittsburgh man identified by a state grand jury as the leader of a burglary and robbery ring in western Pennsylvania told state police he participated in 300 to 400 break-ins, court documents show.

Donald James "D" Fish, 27, of Cline Street, is charged with 99 counts of burglary, 12 counts of robbery, 10 counts of aggravated assault and a variety of other crimes, state Attorney General Mike Fisher announced Monday. More charges could be filed as the investigation continues, Fisher said.

The attorney general also identified nine other people who were either full-fledged members of the ring -- believed to have stolen $463,000 in the crimes -- or occasionally worked with the burglars.

Other full-time members of the ring -- or "the crew," as they called themselves -- were identified in an affidavit of probable cause as:

Brian Lamar "B" Harris, 29, of Meade Street, Point Breeze; Donald James "D.J." Wall, 26, of Oak Avenue, Turtle Creek; Douglas Keith "Hub" Hubbard, 26, whose last known address was Turtle Creek; and Harry "Scambo" Randall III, 29, of Laketon Road, Wilkinsburg.

Fish's wife, Keena Monique Fish, 27, of Middle Avenue, Wilmerding, is believed to have been involved in picking and evaluating potential burglary sites and helping to sell the stolen property, court documents show.

Those charged with participating in at least one burglary are: Aaron Lamont Swan, 28, of Meade Street, Point Breeze; Demetrius Waldon, 28, of McClintock Avenue, North Side; Anthony Michael Salvadore, 27, of Grant Avenue, North Braddock; and David J. Repasky, 25, of Brinton Road, North Braddock.

Some of the suspects are in custody; others remained at large last night.

"We allege that this was a well-organized and tightknit group of crooks that planned out their burglaries and robberies well in advance," Fisher said at a news conference in Greensburg.

The group operated in Armstrong, Beaver, Bedford, Fayette, Indiana and Jefferson counties, but most often struck communities in eastern Allegheny and western Westmoreland counties, especially Monroeville, Penn Hills, Plum, North Versailles and Murrysville, Fisher said. Most of the crimes appear to have occurred in the past two years.

The grand jury believes the crew spent a great deal of time locating and determining the risk factor of potential burglary sites, the attorney general said.

Only Donald Fish, who has at least one prior burglary conviction and who was planning to burglarize his father's business in Wilkins Township when he was arrested for a parole violation, participated in all the break-ins, a witness told police according to the police affidavit.

The affidavit states that Fish admitted participating in between 300 and 400 burglaries, sometimes with the crew, sometimes by himself.

Other members of the crew, whose main targets were business establishments but who occasionally broke into private homes, split the profits of each crime, even if the individual was not able to actually participate, the affidavit states.

The crew, wearing masks and equipped with metal saws and crow bars, most often operated at night, disabling alarms and quickly seeking the safe or unsecured cash, Fisher said.

He said they most often stole cash but sometimes took and later sold jewelry. They broke into numerous safes, sometimes taking them and breaking them open later.

The grand jury discovered the crew purchased a van with some of the loot and used it to travel to various burglary sites and transport stolen safes.

Fish told investigators that Harris was the driving force behind seven robberies the crew is accused of committing, including at least three business establishments and two homes, the affidavit states. Some people were assaulted during the holdups.

Both Fisher and James Morton, assistant superintendent of Allegheny County Police, praised the work of investigators in various police agencies responsible for sharing vital information with state police who coordinated the investigation and presented information to the grand jury.

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