Authorities in Pennsylvania arrested five men Thursday, breaking up what Attorney General Tom Corbett’s office says is a chop shop and insurance fraud ring.
The group is charged with stealing about $80,000 worth of motorcycles in Allegheny, Washington and Westmoreland counties. Corbett says the investigation focused on Joshua Alvarez, 22, of Monogahela, Washington County, and four other men, who allegedly helped steal, strip and sell the bikes and ATVs. They also may have staged vehicle thefts and filed fraudulent insurance claims on them.
Alvarez worked at Bentley's Cycles, 589 W Pike St., Canonsburg, in Washington County, and Corbett says he used his position to get customer addresses, then stole the bikes.
According to the criminal complaint, Alvarez's main accomplice was Zachary Benning, 22, who allegedly helped him steal motorcycles left unattended at area homes.
Stolen motorcycles and ATVs were transported to Benning's garage, where the pair allegedly stored them until they could be resold or stripped for parts, the complaint alleges.
Also accused is Adam Wareham, 34, who operated Road Rash, a repair shop in North Huntingdon, and allegedly sold the stolen rides and parts.
"Alvarez and Benning are charged with stealing an ATV and at least five motorcycles," Corbett says. "However, our investigation into the theft of motorcycles in western Pennsylvania continues and more arrests are anticipated."
The Pennsylvania State Police Western Auto Theft Task Force has been instrumental in the investigation and will continue working with the Attorney General’s office on the case. Other suspects who allegedly assisted Alvarez and Benning in storing and selling stolen vehicles were identified Michael Flament, 22, and David Grillo, 19.
According to the criminal complaint, Wareham orchestrated a staged theft of an automobile to provide a basis for a bogus $7,700 insurance claim by his step-brother. Flament also allegedly faked the theft of his pick-up truck for the purpose of filing a fraudulent insurance claim for approximately $5,000.
The case will be prosecuted in Washington County.