Pa. man charged with stealing own tractor

EAST PALESTINE — A Pennsylvania man arrested last year for impersonating a police officer was recently charged with breaking into a Unity Township business and stealing a tractor.

According to the East Palestine Police report and court documents through the Columbiana County Municipal Court, David W. Phillis, 61, was found by police on state Route 14 near Howell Road.

Police and county sheriff’s deputies responded to the LandPro Equipment company on state Route 14 around 8:30 p.m. on Tuesday after a witness reported the theft in progress. The witness told police that the man left the dealership headed east toward Pennsylvania in a blue Chevy Silverado.

Police found the Silverado and identified the driver as Phillis.

According to the affidavits filed with the court, it was determined that Phillis entered LandPro Equipment and removed his John Deere tractor from their service yard. He had an outstanding bill for services at the company and owed LandPro $187.72 for parts and labor.

The affidavit stated that Phillis arrived at LandPro around 8 p.m. and was told by staff he needed to leave the property due to the business being closed. Phillis reportedly complied and left but returned later and bypassed a locked gate to recover the tractor that belonged to him without paying the bill.

Phillis is charged with theft and criminal trespass and is expected to appear back in municipal court on April 25 for a pretrial.

Phillis is the same man charged by the Lisbon Highway Patrol with impersonating a police officer and failure to yield during a traffic accident last year. Those cases have both been reopened, and pretrials in municipal court on those charges are also scheduled for April 25 after he failed to post the $50,000 cash/surety bond.

He was also charged in that incident with improperly handling a firearm in a motor vehicle. That case was bound over to the county Grand Jury and a jury trial in Common Pleas Court is set for July 23 on that charge.

According to previous reports, Phillis had claimed to be a retired Findlay Township police officer and a Pennsylvania State Constable in Moon Township during the traffic accident handled by the highway patrol on state Route 14 in April of 2018.

Phillis was found to be carrying a badge at the time, and was also found to have a loaded firearm in his pants.

When the patrol contacted the The Findlay Township Police Department about the badge, the police department reported that Phillis had not retired from the force, but had resigned. The department also provided a copy of a report showing that Phillis had ordered uniforms and patches from a company while claiming to be a Pennsylvania State Constable.

The patrol contacted Moon Township to confirm whether Phillis was a constable there was and told that he was a constable but was not a current constable through their township.

kwhite@mojonews.com

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