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02/09/2014

3 arrests made in connection with 4-state theft ring

3 arrests made in connection with 4-state theft ring

By TRACY ESTES News Editor

Article contributed by The Journal Record  

 

Tommy Kevin Burleson

 

Alan Goodwin

 

Gary David Prescott


While three arrests have been made in connection to a massive ring of thefts which will impact residents in at least four states, there is reason to believe more arrests could be forthcoming.

Marion County Sheriff Kevin Williams has confirmed  three Marion County men now face a variety of charges in this case--ranging from drug possessions to the illegal possession of firearms and the reception of stolen property.

Gary David Prescott, 49, Winfield, was arrested by local authorities on Monday, Feb. 3, and is facing charges of six counts of first- degree receiving stolen property, third-degree reception of stolen property, two counts of possession of a controlled substance, firearm forbidden, second-degree possession of marijuana and possession of drug paraphernalia.

Prescott was arrested at his home in the Rock City area on Alabama Highway 233.

He was released from the Marion County Jail in Hamilton less than 48 hours later on a $100,000 bond.

Tommy Kevin Burleson, 37, Brilliant, was arrested on Tuesday, Feb. 4, in Fayette as he was hiding in a motel room, according to Williams.

Burleson is facing charges on possession of paraphernalia, first- degree manufacturing, two counts of second-degree receiving stolen property and firearm forbidden.

Neither Prescott nor Burleson are allowed to carry a weapon under state law as each is a convicted felon, said Williams.

Burleson remained in the county jail pending a $118,000 bond as of presstime on Thursday, Feb. 6.

With arrest warrants in hand, authorities traveled to each of the suspects’ homes on Jan. 16 in connection with the case. Neither was at home and is believed to have been “on the run’’ from law enforcement ever since, according to Williams.

Alan Goodwin has also been arrested in the case with the 33-year-old arrested at a Walker County residence now believed to be his home on Jan. 16, Williams said.

However, Goodwin listed a Winfield address as his home when booked by authorities at the Marion County Jail.

He was charged with one count each of possession of drug paraphernalia, second-degree reception of stolen property, third- degree reception of stolen property and non-support.

Goodwin remained in the Marion County Jail pending a $12,000 bond as of presstime with the non-support charge credited with keeping the man behind bars.

Should he be released from the Marion County Jail, the suspect is facing drug charges in Walker County along with stolen property charges in Itawamba County, Miss.

These arrests are linked to string of thefts involving four-wheelers, utility trailers and other similar items, which was first reported in a story by the Journal Record in late November.

Information provided by Williams at the time noted a pickup truck had also been stolen in what was believed to be the same ring.

Dirt bikes had been stolen as had items from multiple timber-cutting sites in both Marion and Winston counties. Reported missing from these locations were items such as diesel fuel, batteries, large chains and other items.

What may appear to have been less significant items in the case may prove to be what eventually led authorities to the recent arrest.

Alabama Forestry Commission officer Jamey Bozeman is being credited with providing critical evidence in the case.

“Jamey did a great job,’’ Williams said. “What many might not know is that he is a certified police office and he serves in a role like this with the forestry commission. He investigates for them.

“He was working cases with the forestry commission and discovered evidence that linked with these cases many other agencies were working. What he discovered served to break the case open for us. 

Without his help, we would not be where we are in this case.’’

Cases believed to be tied to those arrested in the case and other arrests which might still be forthcoming are linked to a number of communities--both in Marion County and in other parts of the state.

With the exception of the logging industry thefts, the majority of stolen items have been residential in nature, the sheriff said. Most of the items were taken under the cover of darkness.

Making the case even more difficult for investigators is the fact most of the items are no longer located locally as most were sold quickly on a well-known Internet site.

“We are still looking for most of the stolen items,’’ said Williams. 

“These guys did not hold on to what they stole. It was listed on this website very quickly and moved--much of it out of state to Arkansas, South Carolina, and Georgia.

“Most of it was sold for about market value as not to cause too much suspicion for the persons buying the item.’’

In an effort to track where the items have been shipped, authorities are pouring over the computer records used by the suspects.

An official with the U.S. Marshal’s Office is conducting the search, Williams said. The search should allow authorities to locate the missing items while also informing those who purchased the materials that their goods were stolen.

The computer now being searched for the information belonged to Goodwin.

Agencies involved in this massive case include the sheriff’s departments from Marion, Winston, Walker, and Itawamba County (Miss.) the police departments of Winfield, Hamilton, Brilliant, and Haleyville, the Alabama Forestry Commission and the Marion County Drug Task Force.

“I am proud of all of these agencies working together,’’ Williams said.

“Sharing information can be critical in cases like this. There has been no lead agency as everyone has come together as a team. No one has tried to jump the gun in front of any other department and that is very important.

“So much credit in this case goes to Jamey (Bozeman)  as we had been close on this, but we would not have pulled it altogether without him. This truly was a widespread effort as it affecting a lot of folks.’’

Williams could not offer a specific number of victims in the case until the information from the computer is secured and more victims have been notified. He said information has resulted in the closure of at least 10 cases at the local level thus far.

Investigation into the case will continue and more arrests may be forthcoming as more information becomes available.

(When a defendant is charged with a crime, the charge is merely an accusation until or unless the defendant is proven guilty.)

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