Giuffrida
Giuffrida

For more than a year and a half, James Lee Giuffrida, the alleged mastermind behind a large West York theft ring, has been in York County Prison awaiting his day in county court.

In that time, nearly all of his 133 co-defendants have cycled through the justice system, most pleading guilty.

As of May 6, 90 had pleaded guilty to charges stemming from the case, said Kyle King, spokesman for the York County District Attorney's Office.

The sheer number of people charged in the theft ring makes it the largest case in York County in recent memory, King said.

"Probably the largest that I can remember in my eight years (working at district attorney's office), " he said.

Waiting: The remaining 43 people charged in the case are either awaiting trial, awaiting admission to ARD or treatment court or had their charges dropped, King said.

ARD gives first-time nonviolent offenders the chance to avoid conviction by instead completing court-ordered requirements. Defendants don't have to admit guilt, and those who successfully complete ARD can have their records expunged.

Two of those who pleaded guilty had also previously pleaded guilty in the 2012 armed robbery at Papertown Dairy Bar in Spring Grove.

Megan Alexis McDaniel, 22, and Shane Michael Schanfelter, 21, are each currently serving time in state prison. Their defense attorneys had said the pair became addicted to heroin, which led them to commit the robbery.

For her part in the theft ring, McDaniel, formerly of South East Street in Spring Grove, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit theft. She was sentenced to five years' probation once she's released from prison on the robbery charge and ordered to pay restitution and court costs, according to her court records.

As part of the deal, charges of conspiracy receiving stolen property and conspiracy retail theft against her were dropped, records state.

Schanfelter, formerly of Hershey Road in North Codorus Township, also pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit theft and was sentenced to a year's probation once he's released from prison on the robbery and was also ordered to pay court costs, his records state.

Charges of conspiracy organized retail theft, conspiracy retail theft, conspiracy receiving stolen property and organized retail theft were dropped as part of his deal, records state.

Trial date: Giuffrida's trial was to start earlier this month, but his attorney, Ron Gross, received a continuance, King said.

Now Giuffrida is slated to stand trial starting June 1 on two counts of organized retail theft and one count each of retail theft, receiving stolen property, corrupt organizations and dealing in proceeds of unlawful activities, court records state.

Giuffrida remains in York County Prison on $25,000 bail and on a probation detainer. He has been there since his arrest in November 2012.

Gross said his client maintains his innocence.

"We are definitely questioning the charges themselves," Gross said.

However, Gross said a trial could be averted if a deal - one example of which would allow Giuffrida to plead no contest - is struck with the district attorney's office.

Defendants who plead no contest aren't admitting guilt. Rather, they are saying they don't contest the charges against them. Otherwise, a no-contest plea has the same effect as a guilty plea.

"I'm very confident that it could be resolved," Gross said. "He (Giuffrida) is a realistic man. We'd like to see it come to an end."

No burden: Despite the high number of accused in a single case, King said "it has not placed any additional burdens" on the district attorney's office.

"We have traditionally had one of the largest caseloads in the Commonwealth and have simply become accustomed to the workload and demands that it warrants," he said. "We are fortunate to have many talented and dedicated attorneys and staff members willing to do whatever it takes to see that justice is served."

- Reach Greg Gross at ggross@yorkdispatch.com.