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2 of 3 people accused in Tarentum robbery hoax have prior …


Two of the three people accused of staging an armed robbery at Assay’s newsstand in Tarentum last week were already facing felony theft charges when the alleged crime was committed, according to court records.

Connor Whited, 26, and his girlfriend, Leah Baczynski, 24, are accused with hatching a plan for Whited to rob the store while Baczynski’s sister, April Baczynski, 29, was working as a clerk.

Shortly after 4:30 p.m. on Aug. 23, police say, Whited walked into the store dressed in black, wearing gloves, sunglasses and a mask covering his face and ordered April Baczynski to put the money from the register into a bag he was carrying.

The trio were arrested the following day after police got a tip from someone who saw a man matching the suspect’s description walk into a home in the 700 block of South Ormond Street in Tarentum, where the Baczynskis and Whited live, according to investigators.

The trio were charged by summons with misdemeanor counts of theft, criminal conspiracy and receiving stolen property. April Baczynski also was charged with filing a false police report for calling 911 to report the bogus robbery.

The store’s owner told the told the Trib that about $1,000 was taken. Police said Whited told them that the money was used to buy fentanyl and to pay bills. He handed over $55 to investigators when he was arrested, according to a criminal complaint.

Previous charges

Court records show that Whited was charged by New Kensington police on June 5 with a felony count of theft. A criminal complaint detailing the crime was filed with District Judge Frank J. Pallone Jr. but won’t be made public until after he has been arraigned on the charges.

Whited also entered a no-contest plea on Oct. 26 in Allegheny County Court for misdemeanor charges of possession of marijuana and drug paraphernalia filed by New Kensington police in July 2022. He was sentenced to six months of probation, according to court records.

New Kensington police charged Leah Baczynski with misdemeanor counts of theft and receiving stolen property on March 22, according to court records. She was released from custody on a $10,000 unsecured bond. On May 25 she waived her right to a preliminary hearing before Pallone and was ordered to stand trial in Westmoreland County Court.

Leah Baczynski also was charged by Tarentum police in June 2022 with felony counts of theft and receiving stolen property, according to court records. During a court appearance in July 2022 she waived her right to a preliminary hearing before District Judge Carolyn Bengel, who ordered her to stand trial on the charges in Allegheny County Court.

Formal arraignment was scheduled in August 2022 but a trial date was not entered into the court docket.

April Baczynski does not have a criminal record, according to a search of online court documents.

Tony LaRussa is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Tony by email at or via Twitter .

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