The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

Local News

January 15, 2014

Suspect in rash of burglaries heading to trial

JOHNSTOWN — A Johnstown man swiped jewelry, coins and other goods from a Goucher Street apartment complex by stealing the building’s storage unit keys and then sold the items for drug money, a former girlfriend testified Wednesday.

Dwight Joseph Bumford, 24, will face trial on a rash of Norwood Gardens burglaries as well as a few others that occurred over a two-week period in November.

District Judge John Barron waived dozens of burglary-related charges against him to court during Wednesday’s preliminary hearing.

The move came despite Bumford’s defense attorney noting that much of the testimony against him was from the mouths of fellow former drug users, but Barron noted that prosecutors proved they can make a case against the man.

Cambria County District Attorney Joseph Green said Wednesday that investigators did that “and more,” presenting Bumford’s state parole agent, who testified he found keys matching those stolen from Norwood Gardens in Bumford’s winter jacket when his room was searched for drugs in November.

A former Cambria County Prison cellmate also testified Bumford “bragged” about the thefts while detoxing from heroin at the prison.  

“He couldn’t shut his mouth ... about what he did,” said Shawn Becker, Bumford’s cellmate last year.

Now out of jail, Becker said he was subpoenaed to appear in court, but said he notified police on his own about what Bumford told him because he wanted to do the right thing.

“You wanna be a gangsta, be a gangsta,” Becker said. “Don’t take advantage of old people. Don’t rob old ladies.”

West Hills Detective George Musulin told the court that Bumford stole from women as old as “nearly 90 years old” while staying with his father at a Norwood apartment in the fall. His father, Lee Roy Bumford, 55, was charged Tuesday by West Hills police with hindering apprehension of his son.

Musulin said the younger Bumford terrorized Norwood residents by slipping into their locked apartments, shuffling through items and stealing valuables that could be sold for cash.

In one case, he stole more than $1,500 in quarters and other coins from a resident’s bedroom, police said.

A former Johnstown girlfriend, Rachel Galbreath, testified that they took the coins to a money-counting machine at a local department store and then bought heroin with the cash.  

She told Green she saw the keys he used to gain access to the apartments and added that Bumford used a garden tool to pull the keys from the storage unit.

The woman told Patricia Moore, Bumford’s public defender, during cross examination that she “feels bad” she didn’t tell authorities sooner.

Bumford, who sat silent through the three-hour hearing, entered not guilty pleas to all of his charges through Moore.

One theft-related charge was dismissed Wednesday after investigators acknowledged they found no evidence that anything was taken from one apartment that was illegally entered in mid-November. Musulin said it appeared Bumford entered the apartment but slipped out of a window after the resident returned home.

David Hurst is a reporter for The Tribune-Democrat. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/tddavidhurst.

 

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