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Luzerne man, part of 'chop shop' operation, gets state jail term

Published July 07. 2010 05:00PM

A Luzerne County man, who was part of a "chop shop" operation in the Weatherly area, was sentenced to a state prison term on Tuesday in Carbon County court.

Michael Allen Stewart, 40, of Freeland, was sentenced to serve two to four years in a state correctional facility by Senior Judge Richard W. Webb on charges related to the operation that was conduct on a farm in Lausanne Township.

Stewart was not considered to be in charged of the operation. State police at Hazleton said Edwin Torres, of 194 Ten Pont Lane in the township, where the operation was conducted, was the mastermind. Torres was sentenced last week for his part in the criminal activity by Webb to serve five to 10 years in a state prison.

Stewart cooperated with police in the investigation. He previously pleaded guilty to operation of a chop shop, a felony two offense. He also entered pleas in two pending cases. He pleaded to criminal trespass, as a felony three, for entering onto the property of Beltzville Storage in Franklin Township and a count of possession of unstamped cigarettes, which he stole from a storage facility at Beltzville. The incidents occurred on Oct. 9, 2009.

Stewart said he made a lot of bad choices and hurt a lot people which he was sorry for. He said, "When I look in the mirror I see a thief."

On the trespass count Webb imposed a state prison term of six to 12 months and on the stamps count, six to 24 months, will terms running concurrently. The prison term is followed by four years of state probation.

Stewart was also ordered to make total restitution of $725.97; supply a DNA sample; get a mental health evaluation and follow any recommendation for treatment; and have on contact with co-defendants or victims in his cases.

He was given credit for 313 days spent in jail on the charges. He must also pay court cost and a $50 per month supervision fee while on probatio and parole.

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