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New Stanton stakeout leads to 3 arrests in tire thefts |

New Stanton stakeout leads to 3 arrests in tire thefts

John Phillip Kerr Jr. of Elizabeth is charged in connection with a tire theft ring.
Shane Michael Pierce Jr. of West Newton is charged in connection with a tire theft ring.
Jason Michael Walters of Herminie is charged in connection with a tire theft ring.

A stakeout early Monday in Westmoreland County by a special state police unit probing a rash of stolen commercial truck tires resulted in the arrests of three men, including one with ties to the Pagans motorcycle gang.

John P. Kerr Jr., 44, of Elizabeth in Allegheny County, Shane M. Pierce Jr., 33, of West Newton and Jason M. Walters, 33, of Herminie were arrested on charges of theft, receiving stolen property and criminal conspiracy filed by the state police organized crime unit. The men were arrested about 2 a.m. Monday near Kenworth Truck Sales in New Stanton.

In 2009, Pierce was among seven members of the Pagans charged following a three-year statewide grand jury probe into gang activity including illegal drug and weapon sales and motorcycle thefts in Allegheny, Washington and Fayette counties.

In 2010, Pierce, who had no prior criminal record, pleaded guilty to racketeering, criminal attempt of distributing a controlled substance and making false statements under oath in Westmoreland County. He was sentenced to 11 12 to 23 months in prison.

Kerr was ordered held in the county jail by District Judge Charles Moore after failing to post $50,000 bail. Pierce and Walters were jailed after failing to post $25,000 bail each. The investigation is continuing, according to court documents filed in the case.

Police had been probing recent truck tire thefts in the area and had the Kenworth facility under surveillance about 1 a.m. Monday, Trooper Gregory Marchewka of the state police Bureau of Criminal Investigation reported in an affidavit of probable cause.

During that time, a red Jeep Cherokee with a utility trailer pulled into the parking lot of the Econo Lodge in New Stanton. Marchewka wrote that troopers identified the vehicle as belonging to Kerr, “who was suspected in an earlier commercial truck tire theft that occurred at Hunter’s Truck Sales in Smithfield, Fayette County.”

Troopers covertly watched as the vehicle and trailer moved into the nearby Kenworth dealership and three men began removing tires from a trailer-truck parked there, Marchewka wrote.

“Trooper Matthew Baumgard could hear the sounds of an impact gun, presumed to be utilized to remove the lug nuts. About 2 a.m., the Jeep pulling the utility trailer proceeded to a dead-end road that led to the rear of the Kenworth dealership. … Baumgard observed the individuals load the tires into the trailer and depart the scene,” Marchewka said.

The men were pulled over and admitted to removing more than $2,500 worth of tires that morning, the trooper said.

No one has been charged in the theft at Hunter’s Truck Sales, but the investigation is ongoing, according to police.

None of the three men has hired an attorney, according to online court documents.

Paul Peirce is a Tribune-Review staff writer. He can be reached at 724-850-2860 or [email protected].

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