CLEVELAND — Five individuals were arraigned Friday morning in the Cuyahoga County Court of Common Pleas on charges alleging they were involved in a theft ring that targeted more than 20 cities in a Northeast Ohio crime spree.
According to the Ohio Attorney Generals Office, group members face RICO charges for engaging in a pattern of corrupt activity and conspiracy. They were also charged with grand theft, theft, aggravated theft, conspiracy, breaking and entering, vandalism and receiving stolen property.
Charged in the indictment were Donald Miller, Brandon Harrison, Dylan Stump, John T. Harrison and Christine Jachna. They each pleaded not guilty.
Stump requested the judge presiding over the arraignment to read the charges of his indictment individually out loud, claiming that a local news station "criminalized" him in stories it ran. The judge and Stump reached a compromise and the just summarized the indictment.
Attorneys state that in total, the individuals involved were charged with 116 felony counts. Two other individuals who were also recently indicted will be arraigned in common pleas court next week.
According to authorities, the charges stemmed from more than 40 thefts across 20 cities in Northeast Ohio spanning four counties. The group allegedly targeted construction sites, storage units and trailers, among other locations.
A task force was headed up by Cleveland police and comprised of members from various local, state and federal authorities from the Cuyahoga County Prosecutor's Office, Ohio State Highway Patrol, Cuyahoga County Sheriff's Office and the Cleveland Division of the FBI.
“Numerous law enforcement agencies spent hundreds of hours investigating more than 40 incidents in over 20 cities in northeast Ohio,” Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Michael O’Malley said. “This collaborative effort will help eradicate this criminal organization from our community.”
When law enforcement agencies executed a search warrant during the investigation, they said that they found a stolen pickup truck, cash, weapons, drugs, tools and construction equipment.
Authorities say the group is allegedly responsible for stealing the following:
- catalytic converters
- an excavator
- a skid-steer loader
- a utility vehicle
- golf carts
- zero-turn mowers
- leaf blowers
- gaming systems
- copper wire
“These thieves fenced stolen goods across municipal lines, hoping that by spreading out their crimes, they would evade law enforcement,” Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost said. “Too bad for them we have the Ohio Organized Crime Investigations Commission, which has no boundary lines, and was able to piece it all together to get results.”
Each person is scheduled to return to court on Dec. 11 for a pre-trial hearing.