by Jonathan Weaver
One of the Vandergrift residents accused of of stealing about $2,600 worth of plumbing equipment from a Parks Township business in September has pled guilty to one of the charges.
Justin McMasters, 24 of Vandergrift, was arrested by State Police troopers November 6 in Westmoreland County on charges of burglary, criminal trespass and receiving stolen property, among others in the theft from Lawrence Plumbing LLC.
McMasters pled guilty to the second-degree felony burglary charge, which recommends up to 10 years of incarceration in the Armstrong County Jail and/or a $25,000 fine.
However, as per a plea agreement with District Attorney Scott Andreassi, McMasters and his attorney James Wray, Andreassi recommended anywhere from three months to two years of incarceration in the Armstrong County Jail.
McMasters would also be eligible for house arrest and the work release program if found eligible by Court of Common Pleas Judge James Panchik.
Panchik accepted McMasters’ guilty plea, but cautioned him that Andreassi’s recommendation is only a recommendation, and that a final sentence will not be determined until the appropriate hearing April 24.
McMasters told Judge James Panchik he used to work at Lawrence Plumbing
A second man was also arraigned on similar charges because of his involvement a week later.
Brian McKean, 27, was already incarcerated in the Armstrong County Jail on a probation violation, but charges were added.
McKean waived a preliminary court hearing before District Magisterial Judge James Andring and was ordered to be finger printed. McMasters waived his preliminary court hearing November 13.
According to the original state police information report, McMasters and McKean arrived at the Parks Township business at about 9:30AM September 14 in a green Ford Ranger truck. The men entered the secured rear steel side door by pulling on the outside handle and lifting the door off its frame.
Once inside, the men then opened the receiving/garage door and pulled the vehicle within the warehouse and closed it behind them.
The men then are accused of stealing a 100-foot copper roll valued at about $400, four 60-foot copper rolls valued at about $400 each and two additional 60-foot copper rolls valued at approximately $300 each.
The pair proceeded to Tomson’s Scrap Yard in Brackenridge to cash in nearly-300 pounds of copper, valued at more than $820. Each man received half of the money.
Four days later – at about 8:50PM September 18 – the men gained entry into the warehouse in the same fashion. However, McMasters looked directly at a newly-placed security camera before fleeing the scene.
Two counts of criminal conspiracy were added on to the charges against McMasters, and his monetary bond was reduced $20,000 to $30,000.
McMasters was later released on bond, but it was revoked in February
McKean is being held in the Armstrong County Jail on $25,000 bond.
Both men were initially charged with burglary, criminal trespass, a misdemeanor count of theft by unlawful taking and another misdemeanor charge of receiving stolen property, and now, the criminal conspiracy.
Pleas have not yet been heard from McKean.