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City man facing burglary charges

A city man faces charges in connection to a 2018 Juniata burglary.

Brady D. Whitfield, 27, was arraigned Friday on felony charges that include criminal conspiracy and burglary stemming from the November 2018 burglary of three Penn State Altoona students’ home on the 300 block of West 15th Avenue.

According to the charges, Whitfield first came to the attention of police in the days after the burglary, which occurred between Friday, Nov. 23, and Monday, Nov. 26, 2018, — while the students were away on Thanksgiving break — when the mother of one of the students found items taken in the burglary at a Pittsburgh guitar store.

A total of $4,122 worth of items was stol­en in the burglary, and $584 in damages was done to the home’s doors and a window, police said.

A ukulele, bass guitar and bass amp had been sold to the store by Whitfield, who police said used his Pennsylvania driver’s license in the transaction.

When Altoona police Detective Cpl. Shane Strobel questioned Whitfield about the items in December 2018, Whitfield allegedly admitted he had sold the items but said he didn’t know they were stolen and that he had bought them from a guy at a bar.

Police allege Whitfield committed the burglary with two other men and when one of the suspects, 24-year-old Tyler Gehret, died of a drug overdose on

Dec. 29, 2018, police allegedly found text messages to Whitfield on Gehret’s phone. A subsequent search of Whitfield’s phone allegedly revealed text messages between Gehret, Whitfield and 29-year-old Samuel Shaffer, also of Altoona, that incriminated the three men in the burglary, according to the charges.

Police noted that Whitfield’s cellphone showed Google searches for multiple items that were stolen in the burglary and references to a Mossberg shotgun that was stolen. Messages also showed the men discussing clearing and resetting electronic items that were allegedly stolen.

Police indicated a check of local businesses that buy video games showed Shaffer had sold multiple PlayStation games and a controller on Nov. 28, 2018.

Whitfield and Shaffer were both charged Friday and Whitfield was released on an unsecured $50,000 bond set by Magisterial District Judge Daniel DeAntonio. A preliminary hearing is scheduled for Feb. 12 at Central Court.

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