Two New Jersey men face charges in federal court in Pittsburgh after, law enforcement say they stole tractors, utility terrain vehicles and enclosed trailers from stores across Pennsylvania and Maryland, including two instances in Butler County.
Herbert Lee White, 48, of Jamesburg, N.J., faces three counts of interstate transportation of stolen vehicles and an additional count of conspiracy, while Orford “June” Freeman, 50, of Elizabeth, N.J., is charged with one count of interstate transportation of stolen vehicles and conspiracy in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania.
According to an affidavit in support of a criminal complaint, an investigation between the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Pennsylvania State Police Western Regional Auto Theft Task Force led prosecutors to believe the two trafficked vehicles between Pennsylvania, Maryland and New Jersey across a two-year span from January 2016 to December 2018.
Law enforcement say White pulled into M&R Equipment on Route 68 in Butler Township at around midnight Dec. 8, 2018, and stole two Kubota compact tractors — one with a backhoe and front loader bucket, and another with only the front loader — by starting the vehicles and loading them onto a white trailer attached to a pickup truck. He headed southwest on Route 68 at 1 a.m.
The affidavit states the two tractors were worth a combined $46,500.
White returned to Butler County 10 days later, according to law enforcement, this time to Penn Township. There, the affidavit states, White hauled away a 24-foot-long enclosed trailer from Viking Spirit Trailers with an estimated value of $6,500.
According to the affidavit, Freeman told FBI agents that he would arrange sales for the stolen vehicles, and White would bring them to the customer.
In addition to the about $300 to $500 Freeman allegedly received for facilitating the transactions, he would also receive around $1,000 to help White steal vehicles from Erie and Lewistown, in Mifflin County, the affidavit states.
Law enforcement says White stole from 14 different stores on 15 occasions, criss-crossing from areas near Philadelphia and Hagerstown, Md., to Butler and Erie.
Charges against White were filed under seal in April, and White is currently awaiting trial under supervised release. Freeman was charged under seal in September and similarly is on supervised release.
Interstate transportation of stolen vehicles is punishable by up to 10 years in prison, and conspiracy by up to five.