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“Professional” burglary ring gets lengthy prison sentences in Dauphin County

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Troy Baker; Cornelius Smith; Cornell Cole

HARRISBURG, Pa. — Dauphin County President Judge Richard A. Lewis declared at sentencing that he believed the evidence to be “overwhelming” that the three men whom appeared before him last week for sentencing conspired together for a “professional” burglary ring, enough so that he called them “itinerant craftsmen” who had to live double lives to accomplish the sophisticated burglaries they did.

Based on all of that, and the impact on the community, he sentenced the defendants consecutively on each case and at the top of the standard range of the sentencing guidelines.  The total sentences, by defendant, were:

  • Troy Baker: 16 – 36 months for each burglary conviction, 16 – 36 months for criminal conspiracy; 80 – 180 months total
  • Cornell Cole: 16 – 36 months for each burglary conviction, 16 – 36 months for criminal conspiracy; 80 – 180 months total
  • Cornelius Smith: 14 – 36 months for each burglary conviction, 14 – 36 months for criminal conspiracy; 42 – 108 months total

Earlier this month, a Dauphin County Jury convicted the three Maryland residents of committing four sophisticated serial commercial burglaries in four separate Pennsylvania counties over a four-month period. After a two-week jury trial, the jury convicted 51-year-old Troy Baker and 52-year-old Cornell Cole on February 5, 2016 of the following burglaries:

  • June 9, 2013: Barr’s Exxon station, Pine Grove, Schuylkill County;
  • August 25, 2013: Blue Ridge Country Club, Lower Paxton Township, Dauphin County;
  • August 26, 2013: Thorndale Exxon, Caln Township, Chester County; and
  • September 3, 2013: Top of the 80’s Shell Gas Station, Hazleton, Luzerne County.

The jury convicted 38-year-old Cornelius Smith for the burglaries at the Thorndale Exxon and the Top of the 80’s Shell Gas Station. A fourth co-defendant, Baker’s son Terrell Baker, was also charged with three of the burglaries and arrested. Terrell Baker pled guilty to the Blue Ridge, Thorndale, and Top of the 80’s burglaries in April of 2015. The jury acquitted Troy Baker and Cornell Cole of four more charged Dauphin County burglaries, and acquitted Cornelius Smith on two of those burglaries.

The defendants committed each of these burglaries in a similarly premeditated and professional manner using tools they possessed at the time of arrest. The defendants were ultimately arrested after a 30 mile high-speed chase down Interstate 81 from Luzerne into Schuylkill County. Officers found a Sawzall reciprocating saw, a sledgehammer, pry bars, gloves, masks, radios, wire and bolt cutters, and other burglary tools inside the vehicle.

The defendants were arrested and charged with the prior burglaries through cooperation between the Lower Paxton Township Police Department and agents from a Howard County, Maryland law enforcement agency called the Repeat Offender Proactive Enforcement (“ROPE”) team. The defendants were ultimately GPS-tracked to three of the burglaries through ongoing collaboration between ROPE and the lead investigator in this matter, Detective James Glucksman of the Lower Paxton Township Police Department. The Commonwealth utilized the expert opinion of Special Agent Richard Fennern from the Federal Bureau of Investigation Cellular Analysis Survey Team to connect the defendants to the areas of the other burglaries. Pennsylvania State Police forensic expert Nicholas Plumley further testified that trace evidence connected the seized burglary tools to two of the burglaries.

Prosecuting Deputy District Attorney Chris Jason thanked the Lower Paxton Township Police Department, most notably Detective James Glucksman, for their relentless work solving and prosecuting this serial burglary. Deputy DA Jason further thanked the Howard County Criminal Investigation Division and ROPE team, the Federal Bureau of Investigation CAST team, the Pennsylvania State Police (lead investigators Trooper Robert Kluge and Corporal David Andreuzzi), the Susquehanna Township Police Department (lead investigator Detective Aaron Osman), the Caln Township Police Department (lead investigator Detective James Lippolis), and all of the nearly 100 victims and witnesses individually for their assistance throughout trial