Squatter in upscale home lands in prison

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A Wilmerding man whom police said set up residence in an upscale home for sale in Murrysville has a more spartan home now: The Westmoreland County Prison.

Police in Murrysville said they found Frederick Cooper Harris III, 43, hiding in a bathroom closet at 7007 Fair Oaks Drive on Wednesday after sending in a dog to sniff him out.

The house is for sale by owner Sam Hammerman, but police, alerted to a possible burglary in progress by a caretaker, said Mr. Harris was living there for several days after having broken in. Officers said they found drinks in the refrigerator and a sleeping bag and other personal items in the house.

They also discovered that Mr. Harris is wanted in Allegheny County for insurance fraud involving his motorcycle. He claimed a rock smashed his cycle when he parked it along Lime Hollow Road in Penn Hills on June 22, 2009, according to an affidavit, but insurance investigators and police said the bike was really wrecked when he crashed it into a car a week earlier.

He was ordered held for trial in that case in his absence and a county judge issued a bench warrant for him.

Mr. Harris was being held in jail on burglary and trespass charges in the squatting incident.


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