Keefer appeals prison sentence in truck theft
SUNBURY - A Shamokin salvage yard owner convicted of a felony theft charge earlier this year has filed an amended motion as he appeals his sentencing on claims he had ineffective counsel and errors were made by the court, witnesses and a prosecutor.
A post-trial motion hearing for Alfons Keefer has been continued until January to allow the commonwealth time to review the motion, filed Monday by defense attorney Ernie Preate.
Preate, a former state attorney general, presented the motion as part of his direct appeal of Northumberland County Judge Charles Saylor's sentence of 4 1/2 to 24 months in Northumberland County Prison for Keefer, who was convicted of a felony offense of theft of movable property and a misdemeanor of obstructing administration of the law.
Preate's motion claims Keefer's trial attorney, Timothy Bowers, of Danville, was ineffective and challenges the amount of restitution Keefer was ordered to pay in the case. The motion also claims errors were made by the court, witnesses and assistant district attorney Michael Toomey during Keefer's trial.
Saylor granted Toomey time to review the amended motion and continued Monday's hearing until 1:15 p.m. Jan. 17. He ordered Preate to file a brief on his motion by Nov. 19 and gave Toomey until Dec. 17 to file his response to Preate's brief.
Free on bail
On May 14, Saylor ordered Keefer to serve the prison term, but Keefer appealed the sentence within 30 days.
Keefer's appeal allowed him to remain free on his original $5,000 bail as long as he complied with sentencing and bail conditions.
If Saylor upholds the sentence he imposed, Keefer could appeal the sentencing to the state Superior Court.
If the district attorney's office opposes Keefer being free on bail and is successful in the challenge, the judge could order the defendant to be imprisoned during the appeal process. But if no challenge is made about Keefer being free on bail, he will remain free until the appeal process is complete.
Keefer, who doesn't have a prior criminal record, would most likely only serve a minimum prison sentence of 4 1/2 months if his appeal is denied.
The May 14 sentence also required Keefer to pay $1,100 in fines plus costs and complete two years of supervised probation upon his release from prison. The 48-year-old Keefer also must make restitution of $32,500 to Ford Motor Credit Co., $2,100 in 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.
Keefer was sentenced to prison time on the theft charge, while the consecutive two years probation was granted for the obstruction offense.
At the sentencing, Toomey requested Saylor to deny bail since Keefer was convicted by a jury of his peers. But the judge kept the bail the same minimal amount since the law requires a defendant sentenced to no more than two years imprisonment to remain free pending appeal.
Keefer was convicted of the charges Feb. 13. He was found not guilty of a misdemeanor of deceptive business practices, while a felony of receiving stolen property and a misdemeanor of tampering with or fabricating evidence were dismissed due to insufficient evidence.
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.