82-year-old pleads not guilty to central Ohio theft ring charges


By Glenn Battishill - gbattishill@aimmedianetwork.com



Burkholder

Burkholder


An 82-year-old man who was the “last step” in a nine-county central Ohio theft ring, prosecutors allege, pleaded not guilty Wednesday afternoon in Delaware County Common Pleas Court.

Phillip Roger Burkholder, 82, of Forest, Ohio, was arraigned on a charge of engaging in a pattern of corrupt activity, a first-degree felony, and three counts of money laundering, third-degree felonies.

Assistant county prosecutor Douglas Dumolt told Judge Everett Krueger that Burkholder was “the last step” in a theft operation that sprawled across nine counties. Dumolt said the other suspected thieves in the ring — believed to be drug addicts — would steal a variety of items from stores and sell them to Burkholder, who would then sell them at auction.

Prosecutors allege that the group stole from stores in Delaware, Crawford, Seneca, Richland, Marion, Franklin, Morrow, Hancock and Logan counties.

Dumolt told the judge that Burkholder kept detailed ledgers that show all the items he received. Dumolt said that the whole operation is responsible for between $150,000 and $200,000 in stolen goods and that a majority of that money and merchandise went through Burkholder’s hands. The crimes are alleged to have occurred between May 1, 2014, and Sept. 15 2014.

Burkholder’s attorney, Christopher Soon, said Burkholder is not a flight risk because of his age. Dumolt agreed and added that Burkholder has been cooperative with the investigation.

Krueger released Burkholder on a recognizance bond but said that if Burkholder violates the condition of the bond, he will be fined $5,000.

Krueger set a trial date for Dec. 15.

Another man alleged to have been involved in the theft ring, Michael J. Jenkins, 32, of Marion, has also been scheduled for trial on Dec. 15. Jenkins appeared in court on Sept. 25 and entered a plea of not guilty to a charge of engaging in a pattern of corrupt activity, a first-degree felony, and money laundering, a third-degree felony; and four counts of theft, fifth-degree felonies.

He was released from the Delaware County Jail after posting his $7,500 bond Tuesday.

Two others have been arrested in connection with the case.

Wendy S. Emmons, currently in the Ohio Reformatory for Women, faces a charge of engaging in a pattern of corrupt activity, a first-degree felony, and money laundering, a third-degree felony; and four counts of theft, fifth-degree felonies. An arraignment is scheduled for Oct. 7 at 3:30 p.m.

Stevie Rae Henry, 25, of Marion, faces a charge of engaging in a pattern of corrupt activity, a first-degree felony, and money laundering, a third-degree felony; and two counts of theft, fifth-degree felonies. Henry was in the Delaware County Jail Wednesday but an arraignment has not been scheduled.

Several other individuals who were indicted by a Delaware County grand jury in connection with the case remain at large. They include:

• Brittany A. Chafin, of 74 Griswold St., Delaware, on charges of engaging in a pattern of corrupt activity, a first-degree felony, and money laundering, a third-degree felony; and two counts of theft, fifth-degree felonies.

• Sasha L. Steele, of Marion, on charges of engaging in a pattern of corrupt activity, a first-degree felony, and money laundering, a third-degree felony; and two counts of theft, fifth-degree felonies.

• Jordan C. Emmons, of Marion, on charges of engaging in a pattern of corrupt activity, a first-degree felony, and money laundering, a third-degree felony; and three counts of theft, fifth-degree felonies.

• Justin C. Emmons, of Marion, on charges of engaging in a pattern of corrupt activity, a first-degree felony, and money laundering, a third-degree felony; and six counts of theft, fifth-degree felonies.

Warrants have been issued for their arrest.

The investigation is being led by the Organized Crime Investigations Commission division of the Ohio Attorney General’s Office in connection with several law enforcement agencies, including the Delaware County Sheriff’s Office.

Burkholder
http://aimmedianetwork.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/40/2015/10/web1_Burkholder.jpgBurkholder

By Glenn Battishill

gbattishill@aimmedianetwork.com

Glenn Battishill can be reached at 740-413-0903 or on Twitter @BattishillDG

Glenn Battishill can be reached at 740-413-0903 or on Twitter @BattishillDG