Forgery charges dismissed in Porsche theft case
Forgery charges were dismissed against the owner of a Cranberry auto salvage business at a preliminary hearing Friday. Police had alleged he was involved in the theft of two Porsche 911s.
District Judge Kevin Flaherty dismissed the two felony counts associated with accusations of improperly filing Pennsylvania Department of Transportation forms for taking possession of abandoned vehicles.
All other charges against Ian Edward McGee, 46, were moved forward, including felony counts of theft and tampering with public records.
McGee’s attorney, David Weber, argued that the forgery charges were not appropriate because the Cranberry Township officer who signed McGee’s forms did not fill out the portion that was to be filled out by police on the value of the vehicles and the damages to the vehicles.
The section, which prosecution claimed was filled out by McGee, declared a 1991 and 1989 Porsche 911 to be worth less than $501, designating them as salvage under the state Salvor Law.
According to charging documents, the two Porsches later were found to belong to a woman who died in August 2015, and later, her daughter, who lives in Florida and became the executor of her mother’s estate.
Police said the daughter had the cars taken to John Raysich Porsche, her mother’s mechanic in Bridgeville, and left them there under the impression that they would be worked on.
Police said the business changed hands and went out of business in the meantime, and McGee later towed the two Porsches and listed the reason for towing as abandonment.
Officer James Cipriani, of the Cranberry Township Police Department, said that the handwriting on that section was not his writing, and that he mistakenly did not complete the section due to a “bad habit” of his from a previous department.
Cipriani said that he did not receive training on how to assess the value of the vehicles, but added that his signature on the form is legitimate.
“Cipriani submitted forms pre-signed to my client and had every opportunity to view the vehicles and testified that he did view them,” Weber said. “I can’t show any attempt to defraud.”
Assistant District Attorney David Beichner asked Cranberry officer Joshua Shimko about how salvaging an abandoned vehicle works. Shimko explained that a salvor cannot tow a vehicle and then subsequently say it is abandoned.
“A salvaged vehicle is something that is going to the junkyard,” Shimko said.
If the cars had value over $501, they would need to have been sold through an auction process with the majority of the proceeds, minus towing fees, sent to PennDOT. Shimko said that according to a Porsche detail, just the “bodies” of the Porsches could have easily been worth $20,000.
Beichner also brought up previous cases of improper records filing by McGee for a 2011 Chevy Cruze and a 2006 Chevy Equinox. Both cars had paperwork submitted twice, but with different dates of towing and abandonment on either form.
“The vehicles had value, as testified to,” Beichner said. “Some of them (had) substantial value. I think the court needs to consider the value involved here, along with the paperwork and everything else.”
A formal arraignment is scheduled for Nov. 15.
McGee has a codefendant in the case, Attorney Kelton Merrill Burgess, 50, of Valencia. His preliminary hearing is scheduled for Sept. 30.