Members of multi-county burglary, arson trio plead guilty

From left is Megan Gawel, of Newark, Del., Ryan Nelson, of Newark, Del., and Kevin Colosimo of Douglassville. All have been arrested on charges of criminal conspiracy, burglary, arson, theft and related charges.

NORRISTOWN >> A Delaware County man and a Newark, Del., woman admitted Wednesday to their roles in a string of burglaries and arson they conducted with Kevin Colosimo across several counties in early 2014.

Ryan Joseph Nelson, 23, of the first block of Beech Avenue in Aldan, pleaded guilty in front of President Judge William J. Furber Jr. to felony charges of conspiracy to commit arson and burglary and four counts of burglary. According to court documents, he was sentenced to six to 23 months in county jail, with five years of probation, for a total period of supervision of about seven years.

Megan Elise Gawel, 21, of the 200 block of West Silver Fox Road, entered an open guilty plea on five counts of burglary, according to court documents. Gawel was released on bail as sentencing was deferred by Judge Furber pending a pre-sentence investigation report.

Nelson and Gawel were two members of a trio arrested for what investigators believe could be as many as 27 burglaries throughout Montgomery, Chester, Delaware and Berks counties, several of which also included a fire being started on the range of a kitchen stove, according to a report by the investigating grand jury. In each of the burglaries, the homes were vacant and copper pipes were stolen.

According to the grand jury report, homes in King of Prussia, Lower Moreland, East Norriton, Lower Merion and Limerick were burglarized in Montgomery County. Homes in Hatfield, Pottstown, Meadowbrook, Willow Grove and Elkins Park were also burglarized and set on fire.

In Delaware County, homes in Aston, Havertown, Haverford and Norwood were burglarized and a home in Swarthmore was burned. In Chester County, a Kennett Square home was burglarized.

Nelson and Gawel were arrested by police in Spring Township, Berks County, for a burglary there on March 20, 2014. Spring Township Detective Robert Long told the grand jury investigating the case that Nelson was in possession of pipe cutters when arrested. Nelson admitted to the burglary and another in Exeter Township.

Gawel told investigators that she was with Nelson and Colosimo as they broke into approximately 30 houses.

Phone records, GPS data and text messages tied the two to Colosimo and other burglaries the three committed together, according to the arrest affidavit. A fourth member of the group was identified as a suspect by the grand jury, however, the suspect passed away before she was able to speak with investigators.

Colosimo, who prosecutors called the ringleader of the trio, was sentenced Tuesday to 8 ½ to 17 years in state prison.

The investigation was conducted jointly by state police and authorities from Montgomery and Delaware counties, including police from Pottstown, Limerick, Abington and East Norriton.

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