Hearing held in chiropractic trespassing case
CRANBERRY TWP — William Belsterling, 62, of Cranberry Township, pleaded not guilty in a preliminary hearing July 17 to charges in two separate cases stemming from April 16 and 17 incidents on property Belsterling co-owns with his “estranged” business partner, Michael Renk.
While district Judge David Kovach dismissed one charge from each of the cases after listening to testimony, he maintained there were grounds for charges of criminal trespass, criminal mischief and disorderly conduct for one case to move forward.
According to a criminal complaint, township police responded around 8:45 a.m. April 16 to a disturbance at Chiropractic Associates of Cranberry along Marshall Road. The business is owned and operated by Renk.
Officers arriving at the scene heard from Michael Renk’s son, Zachery, that Belsterling hired someone to remove the building’s doors.
As Zachery Renk was filming the door removal, Belsterling grabbed his arm and “poked him in the chest several times,” according to court documents.
Around 12:30 p.m. the same day, documents indicate Michael Renk told Belsterling he’d move his business within 24 hours. Belsterling said he didn’t care and would kill Renk, according to two unidentified witnesses.
When testifying Friday before Kovach, Zachery Renk said while Belsterling’s physical contact didn’t cause lasting pain, it was uncomfortable.
Zachery Renk said the recording he took of the encounter with his phone was submitted to township police.
Police again responded around 8:45 a.m. April 17 to a disturbance at the chiropractic office, according to a second criminal complaint.
The document indicates Michael Renk informed officers someone smashed the doors and locks in secure areas of his business, including the basement.
At that time, Michael Renk told police he suspected Belsterling was behind it. Belsterling has a key to the front of the building, but not secured areas, according to Michael Renk’s statement.
Court documents show Belsterling was arrested later that day after officers were called back to the scene and found him blocking the business parking lot while Michael Renk attempted to move patient files out of his office.
During his testimony Friday, Cranberry Township Patrolman Edward Steinmetz, the arresting officer, said Michael Renk was worried Belsterling intruded on confidential information.
“He was concerned because patient files ... were located in the basement,” Steinmetz said.
Steinmetz confirmed nothing appeared to be stolen during the incident. Belsterling was arrested April 17 after he refused to listen to police and resisted getting out of his vehicle when requested, according to Steinmetz.
Kovach said he needed clarification about the ownership of the office building.
“It says in here that he had a key,” Kovach said. “I don’t know whose building this is.”
Steinmetz clarified the building is part of the Marshall’s Crossing entity, which is co-owned by Belsterling and Renk. This is what formed their business partnership. Belsterling has no involvement in the chiropractic business, according to Steinmetz.
Steinmetz said while in transit to the police station, Belsterling admitted he damaged the doors around 4 a.m. that morning while attempting to enter the building.
“He began (issuing) several unsolicited, incriminating sentences,” Steinmetz said.
Representing Belsterling, attorney Robert Lascher of Davis Law Group told Kovach that Belsterling shouldn’t be charged for entering a property he in part owns because ownership makes him “licensed and privileged” to do so.
After hearing the cases, Kovach dismissed a third-degree misdemeanor charge of harassment and a second-degree felony charge of burglary for the April 16 and 17 incidents, respectively.
Kovach deemed Belsterling guilty of a summary harassment charge from the April 16 incident and sentenced him to pay a fine of $300 plus court costs.
Kovach maintained a second-degree felony charge of criminal trespass, a second-degree misdemeanor charge of criminal mischief and a third-degree misdemeanor charge of disorderly conduct from the April 17 incident can continue. The case moves to the county court system.