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December 19, 2013

Charges dropped over lack of evidence

EBENSBURG — Charges were withdrawn Thursday against a Dean Township man who state police said attempted to hire someone to harm a gay woman who worked for him.

First Assistant District Attorney Heath Long said two counts each of solicitation to commit criminal homicide and solicitation to commit aggravated assault and terroristic threats were dismissed against Shane Ryan Krestar.

“The trooper involved believed – and based upon his preliminary investigation – that there appeared to be a life in danger,” Long said after having the charges against Krestar dismissed at the Hastings office of District Judge Michael Zungali.

Since the late October filing, which put Krestar in the Cambria County Prison in lieu of $200,000 bail, the office of District Attorney Kelly Callihan was able to look further into the supposed harm for hire, Long said.

“We had the luxury of time to get our detectives and others out there,” he said. “The (alleged) victim never felt threatened and continues to work there (for Krestar).

Krestar, 26, is the owner of Key Life Human Services in Coalport, Clearfield County. It is a service that provides residential housing and services for mentally challenged individuals.

In a criminal complaint, police said a man identified as Krestar’s uncle told them that a woman had confronted her employer demanding a promotion and a raise. If he did not comply, the woman allegedly said she would play the “gay card.”

State police alleged at the time that Krestar spoke to the uncle as many as four times and at one point said: “What would it take for you to tamper with her car? We have to get rid of her,” the court document stated.

At another time, according to the criminal complaint, Krestar allegedly said: “I want it done. I’ll pay you anything.”

Long said the state police acted correctly because of what appeared to be a potentially life-threatening situation, but it later became apparent the evidence against Krestar wasn’t there.

“There was no way we would be able to get it past the preliminary hearing level, let alone through the Court of Common Pleas,” Long said.

“We talked to the trooper, we put our heads together and it was apparent that this was not valid.”

Krestar’s attorney, Thomas Dickey of Altoona, praised the district attorney’s office for conducting a thorough investigation into the allegations, something he said should have been done before charges were filed.

“The state police trooper didn’t do an adequate investigation,” Dickey said. “My position is he did no investigation.”

Long said he does not anticipate any charges related to this incident being refiled against Krestar.

It was unclear Thursday if the uncle who police say made the allegations will be charged.

Kathy Mellott covers the Cambria County courthouse for The Tribune-Democrat. Follow her on Twitter at twitter.com/kathymellotttd.

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