Hadley man sentenced in Greenville burglary; victim spars with court

Apr. 22—MERCER — A Hadley man will face prison time for burglarizing a property in Greenville, although the property's owner will not be compensated for any stolen items.

David Nagel, 62, who pleaded guilty to a burglary charge, was sentenced Monday by Mercer County Common Pleas Judge Ronald D. Amrhein to three to seven years in prison, with credit for time already served, and fines and court costs.

The charge stems from an incident on July 22, 2023, when police were contacted by Joseph Cushman, the owner of the property at 41 Shenango St., Greenville.

Cushman told police someone broke into the two-story, brick commercial building and stole tools and other items.

Nagel was identified through a combination of photo evidence and paperwork recovered near the scene, and charged with burglary, theft and taking of movable property.

The charges of theft and taking of movable property were not prosecuted.

Nagel pleaded guilty to the charge of burglary in December, with a sentencing hearing initially scheduled for Feb. 28. That hearing was moved to Monday due to a conflict of interest involving an attorney and to give Cushman more time to collect evidence for a list of stolen items.

Cushman was present for that initial sentencing hearing in February, but needed to participate in Monday's sentencing hearing remotely because he was traveling for work.

However, Cushman's conduct during the hearing — including frequent interruptions and arguments with court officials — ultimately resulted in no restitution being awarded by the court.

When the court session began Monday morning, Amrhein said Nagel's sentencing would be handled last due to the hearing's potential length.

But shortly after the court's business began at 9 a.m., Cushman tried to call into the courtroom about 9:20 a.m. The video call's loud ringtone, which could be heard through the courtroom's speakers, interrupted another defendant's sentencing until the call was ended.

Amrhein said Cushman was told by court officials to wait until the court contacted him before calling in.

Cushman tried to call into the courtroom again about 9:50 a.m., interrupting a different sentencing. Amrhein then asked an assistant to warn Cushman not to call until he was told by court officials, or else he would be barred from testifying during the hearing as a penalty for interrupting court.

When Nagel's hearing did get underway shortly after 11 a.m., Amrhein said he received Cushman's victim-impact statement at 10:40 a.m., long after the sentencing hearings began, and that he read the statement only due to a short break prior to Nagel's hearing.

When Cushman — who was participating in the video call from a parked car — opened a car door, which was picked up and played by speakers throughout the courtroom, Amrhein asked Cushman to stop making noise and to not interrupt.

Cushman was seeking about $50,000 in restitution for stolen tools and items that he planned to use to renovate the building at 41 Shenango St. in Greenville.

Cushman said there were a variety of tools stolen, including new and used items, and that his building was broken into multiple times by multiple people.

Michael David McCann, 40, of Greenville, was charged in a separate incident on July 26, 2023, based on accusations that he picked a lock and entered the building with another individual. He is expected to appear in court in May, according to court documents.

Cushman said he set up a trail camera near his property and had evidence of the individuals repeatedly going back and forth from the building.

When asked by Assistant District Attorney Jacob Sander how he knew which particular items Nagel stole, or to identify the items that each individual stole, Cushman repeatedly gave answers such as "my building's been cleaned out" and "he emptied the building."

Sander said he reviewed three videos Cushman had given to police, with at least one video showing Nagel pushing a cart with a tarp over it, although he could not tell what items were on the cart.

When pressed by Sander, Cushman asked, "Why is this a debate?" and Amrhein warned Cushman to answer questions directly. Amrhein also apologized that Cushman made the trip to the area but couldn't speak during the previous sentencing hearing, and repeated the question.

Cushman said Nagel "admits it" and that he had photographic evidence of Nagel carrying baskets from his building that contained the tools and other stolen items, including tires.

When asked for receipts of any of these tools, Cushman said he purchased some tools in Greenville and others across the nation, sometimes with cash, over the course of decades and that while he could get witnesses to confirm his purchases, it would be very time-consuming.

Amrhein responded that Cushman had not brought any witnesses to Monday's sentencing hearing.

The judge added that Cushman sent a restitution letter to the court on Dec. 5, 2023, but a list attached to the letter only included the names and prices of various tools, not receipts or other evidence.

Sander asked why Cushman stored the tools at 41 Shenango St., and Cushman said that was "where the project is."

When Sander asked why Cushman stored the tools there instead of a storage unit, Cushman said he was trying to quit using storage units due to the cost involved.

Cushman then started asking, "Where are my rights? Who's protecting my rights?" Amrhein again warned Cushman that his conduct could cause the court to end the call.

"I'm trying very hard because you're the victim of a crime, but you're not helping yourself," Amrhein said.

Amrhein asked how many baskets were taken from the property, to which Cushman again started asking, "Where are my rights?"

Sander said Cushman had no paperwork or documents for the stolen tools, and when Sander asked if Cushman had any insurance on the building, Cushman said he was "going to have to call the FBI."

Assistant Public Defender Alissa Kretser asked Cushman why, when he was interviewed by police at the time of the incident, he estimated about $2,000 worth of tools were stolen.

Cushman said it was the police who made the initial $2,000 estimate, not him.

However, according to the criminal complaint filed by the Greenville Police Department, "Cushman estimated the stolen property to be well over $2,000."

When Kretser asked Cushman if he was ever interviewed by The Herald, Cushman became upset and argumentative, at one point calling "objection" and asking why the question was relevant.

When Kretser asked whether Cushman told a reporter he lost more than $50,000 worth of tools, Cushman asked for a recess, saying he would call for an ambulance and that he was going to have a heart attack.

Cushman again asked about his rights and why the court was protecting Nagel, and despite repeated warnings by Amrhein, Cushman continued speaking.

The court ended Cushman's call before 11:40 a.m.

Sander said the back-and-forth seen throughout the sentencing hearing represented "every conversation I've had with him (Cushman)." Sander added that the building was not secure and there was no way to prove $50,000 worth of tools was stolen.

A few minutes after the call ended and the sentencing had continued, Cushman tried to call back into the courtroom. Amrhein asked that the call be ended and the device turned off completely.

Later when Nagel's sentence was issued, Amrhein said he would not require any restitution be paid because Cushman did not provide evidence of any specific costs.

When asked by Amrhein if he wished to say anything on his own behalf, Nagel said he broke into the building because he was homeless at the time and it was raining outside. Nagel said he was dealing with a medical issue, and he wanted to do positive things in the community.

Nagel said he recognized having multiple previous convictions but did not want to "die in jail," and that he would be 63 on Friday.

"I don't want to be the guy people point at and say, 'he spent his whole life as a criminal,'" Nagel said.

Like David L. Dye on Facebook or email him at ddye@sharonherald.com.