Two Kentucky men were said to be found napping with 30 stolen catalytic converters and a reciprocating saw, in a green van, in a Penn State University (PSU) parking garage.

Two men from Louisville, Kentucky—Jose William Perez Felipe, 25, and Wilber Sori San Miguel, 31—have been indicted by a federal grand jury for conspiracy to transport stolen catalytic converters from Kentucky and Ohio to State College, Pennsylvania.

Between Nov. 29 and Dec. 2 of 2021, the two agreed to transport stolen catalytic converters from Kentucky to New York, where the valuable metals inside—including rhodium, palladium, and platinum—would be extracted, the indictment alleges.

Using Facebook, the two men allegedly found and communicated with others who bought and sold stolen catalytic converters.

Prosecutors say Felipe and San Miguel left Kentucky with about 22 catalytic converters they had received from an unidentified person or persons. As they traveled through Cleveland, Ohio, they purportedly had an unknown person steal two catalytic converters from trucks near the hotel where they stayed overnight. They traded cash and marijuana for the theft, the indictment says.

By Dec. 1, 2021, they were in State College where they allegedly used a reciprocating saw to remove two catalytic converters from an Isuzu box truck. The next day they went to a service garage parking lot on the Penn State University campus, where they took more catalytic converters from three vans at the PSU facilities building, Office of Physical Plant, ultimately removing six catalytic converters from vehicles in State College, the indictment says.

Then, prosecutors say, Felipe and San Miguel napped in their van in the PSU parking garage where they were discovered.

The 30 catalytic converters discovered in the van are valued at about $90,000, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Pennsylvania said in a statement.

The case was investigated by the FBI, the State College Police Department, and the Pennsylvania State University Police Department. Assistant U.S. Attorney George Rocktashel is prosecuting the case.

On March 16, both men pleaded not guilty. They will be held in federal custody until their trials. A public defender has been appointed to represent Felipe. Attorney information for San Miguel was unavailable.

If convicted, the maximum penalty under federal law for these offenses is 20 years in prison, a term of supervised release following imprisonment, and a fine.


Beth Brelje is an investigative journalist covering Pennsylvania politics, courts, and the commonwealth’s most interesting and sometimes hidden news.

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