Burglary Ring Linked to Drug Thefts at Pittsburgh Area Veterinary Clinics

HARRISBURG – A burglary ring allegedly responsible for stealing drugs from at least nine Western Pennsylvania veterinary clinics and animal hospitals was broken-up by an investigative team of local police, the Pennsylvania State Police and state narcotics agents.

Attorney General Tom Corbett said the burglaries, which occurred during the fall of 2009, were orchestrated by Brandon Wise of Pittsburgh.  Wise and at least five other suspects allegedly broke into veterinary clinics in Allegheny, Westmoreland and Armstrong counties in order to steal money and Ketamine.

Corbett explained that Ketamine is a tranquilizer commonly used on animals and can be inhaled, injected, consumed in drinks or added to smokable materials. The drug has become a popular “club drug” among teens and young adults at dance clubs and raves.

Evidence and testimony regarding the case was presented to a statewide investigating grand jury, which recommended the criminal charges being filed today.

According to the grand jury, Wise allegedly frequented Pittsburgh rave parties where he sold Ketamine in powder form packaged in small bags.  Wise allegedly cooked Ketamine by pouring the liquid form onto plates and microwaving the narcotic until it cooked into a crystal substance.  He then allegedly would scrape the crystals into a powder and package it for resale.

In 2008 local police began investigating a string of veterinary clinics and animal hospital burglaries, where bottles of Ketamine and other veterinary narcotics were stolen.

The grand jury found that at least nine animal hospitals or veterinary clinics had been broken into since 2008. Wise allegedly enlisted the help of Donald Graham, Danielle Markham, Angelo Valenti, Frank Skerlak, and Jordan Smith to commit the burglaries.

Agents estimate that Wise and his associates were responsible for stealing numerous narcotics, including more than 24 bottles of Ketamine, 16 bottles of Telazol, 10 bottles of Valium, seven bottles of Diazapam, six bottles of Phenobarbital, four bottles of Merperdine, several other non-narcotic medications and over $2,000.00 in cash.

Corbett thanked the Plum Police Department, the Penn Hills Police Department, the Monroeville Police Department, the Upper Burrell Police Department, the Kiskiminetas Police Department and the Pennsylvania State Police for their assistance with the investigation.

The case will be prosecuted in Allegheny County by Deputy Attorney General Tomm Mutschler of the Attorney General’s Drug Strike Force Section.

Below is a list of the defendants and the charges against them.

-Brandon Wise, 810 Blue Ridge Road, Pittsburgh, Allegheny County, is charged with 11 counts of criminal conspiracy, nine counts of burglary, seven counts of theft by unlawful taking, seven counts of receiving stolen property, three counts of possession, two counts of criminal attempt, two counts of delivery, two counts of possession with the intent to deliver and one count of criminal trespass.

–Frank Skerlak, 19, 488 Vance Station Road, Washington, Washington County, is charged with six counts of criminal conspiracy, one count of burglary, one count of criminal trespass, one count of criminal attempt, one count of theft by unlawful taking and one count of receiving stolen property.

–Danielle Markham, 20, 116, Crescent Pines Drive, Verona, Allegheny County, is charged with five counts of criminal conspiracy, two counts of burglary, one count of criminal trespass, one count of criminal attempt, one count of theft by unlawful taking and one count of receiving stolen property.

–Donald Graham, 20, 106 Richmore Drive, Verona, Allegheny County, is charged with six counts of criminal conspiracy, two counts of burglary, one count of criminal trespass, one count of possession with the intent to deliver, one count of theft by unlawful taking, one count of receiving stolen property and one count of criminal attempt.

Jordan Smith, 19, 323 Lougeay Road, Pittsburgh, Allegheny County, is charged with four counts of criminal conspiracy, one count of theft by unlawful taking, one count of receiving stolen property and one count of burglary.

–Angelo Valenti, 23, 7716 Aspen Drive, Pittsburgh, Allegheny County, is charged with six counts of criminal conspiracy and one count of criminal attempt.

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