Judge denies inmate’s request to have 2 cell phones returned

A Warren man suspected of stealing from cars across Warren County has had his request to re-acquire his cell phones denied.

Patrick M. Anderson, 212 N. South Street, currently incarcerated in the Warren County Jail on $100,000 bail, was charged back in September of 25 total counts including burglary, theft from a motor vehicle and loitering and prowling at night time.

Police said Anderson, also known as ‘Country,’ is suspected of stealing from vehicles in the City of Warren, Sheffield, Youngsville, Russell, and Mead and Pleasant townships, taking items including guns, lottery tickets, cigarettes, cash, iPods, knives, jewelry, and other items, and selling the guns in Erie. Police said he told a witness he did not take items that could be ‘traced.’

According to police, a Russell man allegedly caught Anderson in the man’s vehicle. Anderson fled on a bicycle, they said.

The man chased Anderson and confronted him in North Warren, but Anderson denied involvement, police said.

Police said he admitted to the Aug. 18 burglary of a garage in Russell and taking a Smith & Wesson .38 caliber revolver from a vehicle.

Two cell phones were taken as evidence when he was arrested and those phones were what he asked to be returned during a hearing on Thursday.

Anderson took the stand and described the phones – two white Samsung Galaxy devices – testifying that he owned them when he was arrested. He said that his girlfriend gave him the first one shortly after he was released from jail in July and purchased the second one in August.

Judge Gregory Hammond, who presided over Thursday’s hearing, asked if Anderson had a receipt for the second phone. Anderson responded that he did not as he has been incarcerated.

Jeffrey Osborne, trooper with the Pennsylvania State Police, testified that he found the phones on Anderson when Anderson was interviewed after his arrest.

Osborne said the phones were sent to the state police crime lab in Meadville where a call log and text messages were extracted from the phone in an analysis that he described as “quite lengthy.”

He testified that the material taken from the phone is “evidentiary” and includes potential contacts between Anderson and possible co-defendants.

Anderson’s attorney, Alan Conn, asked about that relationship and Osborne responded that such connections are “still under investigation.”

District Attorney Rob Greene acknowledged that the phones belong to Anderson but said that they are “highly evidentiary” to an ongoing investigation in Erie County.

He pointed out that Anderson “has no use for cell phones” while incarcerated in the jail, calling the phones “not useful to him at this time.”

Conn argued that there was no real reason to keep the phones from Anderson, especially since all the information on the phone has been copied onto CDs.

Hammond said that the first element of the petition is to prove that the property belongs to the defendant, a burden which he said was met.

He said that the burden then shifts to the Commonwealth who “clearly identified both cellular telephones as evidence.”

Hammond said he would not order property to be turned over that is part of an ongoing criminal investigation and denied Anderson’s motion.