Lawyer among 4 charged in theft of 2 Porsche 911s
An attorney, an auto salvage business owner and an auto repair business owner — all from Butler County — and a businessman from Allegheny County have been charged in connection with the alleged theft of two Porsche 911s.
Cranberry Township police filed charges against Ian Edward McGee, 46, of Cranberry Township, who owns auto salvage business Lucky Auto Recovery; attorney Kelton Merrill Burgess, 50, of Valencia; Domenic Joseph Petitta, 52, of Cranberry Township, who owns auto repair shop Domenic Import Service of Pittsburgh; and Kyrk Andrew Pyros, 55, of Pittsburgh, who owns Allegheny Crane Rental in Pittsburgh.
According to affidavits filed by police, the owner of a 1989 Porsche 911 coupe and a 1991 Porsche 911 convertible died in August 2015, and her daughter, who became the executor of her mother’s estate, obtained possession of the cars and other property.
The daughter, who lives in Florida, had the cars taken to John Raysich Porsche, her mother’s mechanic in Bridgeville. After the shop owner died, his son took over the business, which failed.
Pyros, a family friend, agreed to help return vehicles remaining at the shop, including the Porsches, to their respective owners, but he never contacted the daughter, according to an affidavit.
After learning that he could not own the vehicles because they were titled in someone else’s name, Pyros contacted Burgess, his estate attorney, who told him he could abandon the vehicles and then have a salvor sell them back to him, according to an affidavit.
Pyros allegedly moved the Porsches to another property he owned and contacted McGee to start the process of having the cars salvaged, even though all parties involved knew the cars held significant value and actually were owned by someone, according to an affidavit.
McGee towed the Porsches to an unknown location and put a fictitious address on the towing receipt in an attempt to deceive investigators and not connect the cars to Pyros, whose intention was to acquire the cars, according to an affidavit.
McGee submitted Pennsylvania Department of Transportation forms for taking possession of abandoned vehicles to township police, but those forms have to be filled out by police in the jurisdiction where the vehicles were abandoned, according to the affidavit.
“This would be Bridgeville if the vehicles were actually abandoned, but they were not; they were sent there for work. They were then moved and could not ever be abandoned at that point as outlined in the Salvor Law,” police said in one of the affidavits.
On Dec. 30, 2021, a township police investigator talked to the officer who signed the forms for both Porsches in January 2019. The officer mistakenly gave the forms to McGee to fill out, according to the affidavit. The sections on the forms for the value of the vehicles and the damages to the vehicles were most likely filled out by McGee, according to an affidavit.
Neither car should have been designated as a salvage vehicle because they didn’t need substantial repairs, according to an affidavit.
McGee did not have a set storage fee for vehicles as is required by law, but he set the fee for the 1989 Porsche at $26,614 and at $37,490 for the 1991 Porsche without notifying the owner, according to an affidavit.
A vehicle owner must be made aware that their vehicle was towed and stored in order for a fee to be charged. Those fees are required to be posted, according to an affidavit.
The sale of the 1989 Porsche for $24,150 and the sale of the 1991 car for $8,150, minus the total towing fees of $1,064.46 would have resulted in a total profit of $31,235.54, which should have been submitted to PennDOT, according to the complaint.
In addition, the complaint said McGee falsified records and did not keep correct or current records for seven other vehicles not related to this case.
McGee was charged in June with two counts of forgery, two counts of theft by deception, two counts of theft by failing to make required disposition of funds, three counts of tampering with records, one count of conspiracy to commit theft by deception, two counts of statement under penalty and 10 counts of investigation/records.
Petitta told police he bought the 1991 Porsche from Burgess for $8,150 on the same day Burgess bought it from Lucky Auto Recovery, and Burgess paid $3,500 for the car and gave McGee $4,650 worth of legal services in exchange for the vehicle, according to an affidavit. Petitta was charged with receiving stolen property.
Burgess was charged with conspiracy to commit theft by deception. Pyros was charged with conspiracy to commit theft by deception and receiving stolen property.
“Mr. Pyros is an innocent man. He’s a well-respected businessman and member of the community. He did not commit the crimes alleged or any other crimes. He did not conspire with anyone. He did not knowingly receive stolen property,” said his attorney, Christopher Capozzi of Pittsburgh.
“He was a bona fide purchaser for value of a motor vehicle from a licensed salvor, Lucky Auto Recovery, Towing & Transport in Cranberry, TWP PA. To be clear, he is the innocent purchaser of a motor vehicle who paid good, hard-earned money for it and did so without notice of any other person’s competing claim against the property,” Capozzi said.
Burgess’s attorney Thomas Will of Pittsburgh declined to comment.
Petitta and McGee could not be reached for comment.
The charges were filed at District Judge Kevin Flaherty’s office in Cranberry Township, and their preliminary hearings are scheduled for Aug. 19.