Man held for court in Barkeyville vehicle theft

Staff writer

A Massachusetts man accused of trying to steal a vehicle in Barkeyville earlier this month was held for court Wednesday on several charges.

Tan C. Nguyen, 23, of Randolph, Massachusetts, was bound over for further court proceedings by district judge Andrew Fish following a preliminary hearing in Venango County Central Court.

Testimony at the hearing also indicated that Nguyen admitted the vehicle he was driving when he arrived in Barkeyville had been stolen in Massachusetts.

A criminal complaint filed by Franklin state police indicated that a witness, Keith H. Perotti, 50, had observed Nguyen traveling west on Interstate 80 in a 2011 Jeep Grand Cherokee bearing Massachusetts plates the morning of Jan. 14.

Perotti said he and Nguyen both turned off I-80 at the Barkeyville exit and proceeded to the Speedway Gas Station on Route 8 in Barkeyville, the complaint said. Perotti also said he saw Nguyen leave the Jeep and pull on the door handle of a parked 2009 Chevy Malibu, the complaint said.

Nguyen was unable to gain access to the Chevy and entered the store, the complaint said.

On Wednesday, Bradley E. Sterner, 51, of Mercer, the owner of the Chevy Malibu, testified at Nguyen’s hearing.

Sterner told Justin Fleeger, an assistant district attorney, that he had arrived at the Speedway Gas Station but didn’t immediately make contact with Nguyen. Sterner said he entered the store, and upon leaving, Nguyen followed him to the Malibu.

Before Sterner could get inside his car, he said Nguyen started yelling at him in a foreign language and tried to “take a swing” at him.

Nguyen then began to pursue Sterner around the back of the vehicle before fleeing on foot, Sterner testified.

Franklin state police trooper Andrew Hagan was also called as a witness Wednesday, and he said he was dispatched to the gas station but was told en route that Nguyen had fled on foot.

Hagan said he located Nguyen in the Burger King parking lot across from the gas station and took him into custody.

Hagan said Nguyen then indicated that he stole the Jeep from a gas station in Massachusetts earlier that day and had planned to drive to California before catching a flight to Asia.

Surveillance camera footage from the Speedway Gas Station corroborated witness statements, Hagan said.

Nguyen was held for court on felony counts of attempted robbery of a motor vehicle, attempted receiving of stolen property and theft by unlawful taking, misdemeanor counts of stalking, simple assault, unauthorized use of a motor vehicle and criminal mischief, and two summary harassment charges.

Fish denied bail for Nguyen on Wednesday, calling him a significant flight risk. He remains lodged in the Venango County jail.