High court upholds sentence in theft case
HARRISBURG - The state Superior Court has upheld the 4 1/2 to 24-month county prison sentence imposed last year by Northumberland County Judge Charles Saylor against 50-year-old Alfons Keefer of Shamokin on a theft charge.
In a ruling issued Monday, the court denied Keefer's appeal after finding evidence presented at his trial and the subsequent sentence to be credible. The ruling also supports Saylor's order for restitution in the case.
Keefer has 30 days to appeal the ruling to the state Supreme Court. If he fails to meet the appeal deadline or his sentence is not overturned, he will be ordered by Saylor to begin his sentence immediately.
Keefer, who doesn't have a prior criminal record, would most likely only serve the minimum 4 1/2-month prison sentence.
The salvage yard owner has remained free on $5,000 appeal bail since his sentencing May 14, 2013, on a felony of theft of movable property and misdemeanor of obstruction of administration of the law. He was convicted of the charges Feb. 13, 2013, by a jury and was found not guilty of a misdemeanor of deceptive business practices. A felony of receiving stolen property and a misdemeanor of tampering with or fabricating evidence were dismissed due to insufficient evidence.
In addition to the jail time on the theft charge, Keefer must serve two years of supervised probation upon his release from prison on the obstruction offense.
The sentence also requires Keefer to pay $1,100 in fines plus costs and complete two years of supervised probation upon his release from prison. Keefer must make restitution of $32,500 to Ford Motor Credit Co.; $2,100 restitution to Joy Kulenguskey, of Coal Township, and $818.49 restitution to the county district attorney's office for expenses incurred to have Ken Cade, of Phoenix, Ariz., a customer service representative for Ford Motor Credit Co., testify at Keefer's trial.
His post-sentence motion requesting a new trial was denied in January 2013 by then-county prothonotary and clerk of courts Kathleen Strausser because a hearing involving the motion had not been held within 120 days of its filing in accordance with Rule 720 of the Pennsylvania Rules of Criminal Procedure.
Ernie Preate, who took over as Keefer's attorney May 23, 2012, did not request a 30-day extension on the 120-day rule, but even if he did, the time period to hear the post-sentence motion still would have expired in late October 2012.
Preate later filed an appeal to the Superior Court.
Keefer was charged by Trooper Kevin L. Bletz of the Pennsylvania State Police Auto Theft Task Force with failing to return a silver 2001 Ford F-350 truck owned by Kulenguskey that he towed in 2008. Police said the turbo diesel, quad cab truck was towed and stored by Keefer at his business, A&G Towing on Bear Valley Avenue, before it disappeared.
The charges, filed in August 2010, involved a two-year investigation conducted by Bletz, who was asked by Northumberland County District Attorney Tony Rosini and Shamokin police to conduct the probe in February 2008 because of a prior conflict between city police and Keefer. That conflict involved a dispute with the city over towing and storage charges when Keefer removed 18 vehicles from Robert Gilligbauer's Shamokin property in 2007.